June 28, 2005


I have a confession to make--I'm very easily irritated. Yes, I know. It's difficult to face my admission of weakness, particularly as I'm such a paragon of all the other worldly virtues--stop laughing.

I remind you of this personality quirk of mine so that you will be able to properly contextualize my next statement, which is: watching other people parenting their children in public is hell. And not of the run-of-the-mill, flamey variety. Nope, we're talking 9th level frozen wasteland, hangin' with the Big L himself hell.

The following is a true story. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Yesterday evening marked the beginning of the last week of swim lessons. The Boy was excited, and had fun bouncing and paddling around the shallow end. Except his favorite teacher--Miss Melly--was absent, and I was wondering how The Boy would handle the lack of personalized attention. Miss Scarlett is not, how do we say, overly attentive to the kids she drags around the deep end. But that's understandable--there are 2 teachers, and one of them has had to spend almost an hour every evening trying to coax one kid into the pool, which leaves Scarlett to deal with the other five children, including Ahab.

Ahab doesn't listen. Ahab runs around. Ahab jumps out of the pool. Ahab goads his sister into equally foolish behavior. Ahab, in short, is probably a bit too immature to be in the swim class, for which the instructions clearly state "Child must be able to leave parents and follow instructions in a group." Ahab's got no problem with leaving, but the rest of it is right out.

And so after a few days of this, the swim teachers decided that if Ahab couldn't follow instructions, Ahab would have to have time out until he could "get his listening ears on." Which, okay, I don't have a problem with. 2 teachers, six kids, 40 minutes, no time for dealing with behavior problems.

Here's what I do have a problem with, because here's what I overheard Ahab's mom telling another mom poolside,

"Well! They keep threatening him with time out. He just needs more direction. I don't know what their problem is."

Lady, the problem is that your kid can't follow instructions. Period. And it's not like the instructors are barking out choreography for a synchronized swimming contest--the instructions consist entirely of: Hold your noodle! Kick your feet! Don't splash the other kids!

The secondary problem is that while everyone else recognizes that Ahab's antics distract the teachers and take time away from the lesson, Ahab's mom is oblivious to the fact, as she's convinced that her potbellied angel with the bowl cut can do no wrong.

And so she marches over and delivers a condescending lecture to the instructor in the ways of the Force as it pertains to her child, undercutting any semblance of authority that the instructor has. And don't think Ahab doesn't notice. Meanwhile, MY kid and the others are left adrift with their noodles. But, you know, screw them, right? Poor innocent Ahab might have to suffer the slings and arrows of "time out!"

I am SOOOOO looking forward to the numerous permutations of "Ahab-Mom" that I'm going to encounter in elementary school, on little league fields and at community pools. Not.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at June 28, 2005 08:56 AM

Yeh, I'm sorry to concur, but you're going to see a lot of this parenting based on excuses and irresponsibility as the Boy enters school. Of course, be comforted in knowing these wretched caretakers will be burdened by their children well into their golden years, unless the prison system intervenes along the way.

Posted by: paula at June 28, 2005 01:32 PM

Yeah, boy, these kids are great to have in the classroom, at each stage along the way, I'm sure. They're especially fun once their hormonal levels go nuclear.

Thanks, dear. I'm already looking forward to late August, now.

Posted by: Husband of BAW at June 28, 2005 04:24 PM

I've seen this sort of thing too much and kept my mouth shut. I'm looking forward to turning into an embarrassing old bat who has more or less lost her mind, and bellows aloud all the thoughts she has previously kept to herself. I may fake it before it happens.

Posted by: Laura at June 28, 2005 11:29 PM

Truly, my life is great, I love my family, my children are fun - it is other people who ruin it all for me. I understand, but I also know you are IN FOR IT. It does get worse in school.

Are we going to have a burrito tomorrow?

Posted by: Belle at June 29, 2005 10:14 AM

If I have anything to say about it! Have you heard from our mutual friend yet?

Posted by: BAW at June 29, 2005 10:40 AM

Ah, yes, the "But MY child is EXTRA-special" mom.


I don't know about the prison system but it does seem a few of these little darlings do manage to grow up and get themselves into college. I'll tell you, it's an experience to have a parent call you up and tell you how you NEED to be TEACHING their child specially, because otherwise HE will get a D.

And said "child" has been either not showing up, not turning in the work, or being an absolute a-hole in class. But you can't say that to Concerned Mom. You just nod and murmur something about different learning styles and pray she gets off the phone with you soon.

And you give her not-so-little darling the D or F he so richly deserves, and brace yourself for another call from her.

Say, have you read "The Nanny Diaries" - Ahab's mom sounds not unlike the mother in that book in some respects.

Posted by: ricki at June 30, 2005 08:57 AM

Yes it will get worse. My girl (now aged 16) turned to me the other day and said, "Oh, mommy, I'm so glad you are not one of those PTA moms. My teachers know I do my work, not you."

I'm thinking of starting a business. Get-a-clue cards. "Your child is not following directions. The other 5 children are managing to follow directions. Get a clue."

I first thought of it for the cell-phone natterers --"Please don't burden me with the details of your private life" and the like, but it would be usefull for GetAClue (sm) moms too.

Posted by: liz at June 30, 2005 03:34 PM