As some of you know, I often take my 4-yr. old Terror Twins to McDonalds on the weekends. Not so much for the highly nutritious meals served at the Golden Arches, no, but rather to get them out of the house to burn off some of their excess energy in the playland area.
Unfortunately, when doing so, I sometimes see a level of parenting that goes a long way to explaining why “no child left behind” is clearly leaving a whole hell of a lot of children behind. The trophy generation is now beginning to breed themselves and it’s not a pretty sight.
And listen. When it comes to parenting, I’m far from the reincarnation of Ward Cleaver. I’ve long been ineligible for any prestigious “Parent of the Year Award”. Yet I’ll put my two little guys up against just about any other four-year old in terms of listening, politeness, and overall social skills.
This past weekend, however, the parents at this particular McDonalds showed that their child-rearing skills are in serious need of an upgrade. I’d love to blame the kids themselves, but I can’t.
1, 2, 3
Within a minute of climbing to the top of the playland structure, several boys actually started tackling and pinning Twin #1 against the wall (my autistic son). Although I couldn’t tell if he was actually laughing or crying, I immediately told his brother – Twin #2 – to get up there and help him while trying to convince Twin #1 to get out.
Upon seeing this, the other boys’ mother stood up and said (and I’m damn near quoting word-for-word): “Conner, stop doing that. One, two… I’m serious Conner. One, two… Connor! Get down here now! One, two… You better stop doing that. One, two…”
Connor never came down, but eventually he did stop.
Does any parent, and I mean any parent, either a) ever follow through with any sort of disciplinary action when they get to “three” or b) truly believe this method even works in the first place? If your kid’s acting up, address it immediately.
Counting to three just makes you look stupid.
Soon those same kids graduated to simultaneous jumping onto the already weakened wooden floor. The mother, again, warned them to stop – or else they would leave – and again, showed the world her skills at counting to TWO.
“Let’s take off his shoe!”
Later, a different set of kids attempted to break off the foot of a Ronald McDonald statue. Their original goal was to just untie and remove his shoe, but after realizing Ron was a solid, one-piece, fixture – they went for broke. Literally.
As they kicked, twisted, and jumped on the statue – where was mommy? Sitting no more than three feet away, eating her fries while talking on the phone.
I’ve always said – and not always jokingly – that the worst influence on kids is older kids. There’s still a lot of truth to that, but as it’s so often said: it always leads back to the parents; the home environment.
Behind every undisciplined, spoiled, and obnoxious child there is usually a just as undisciplined, spoiled, or obnoxious adult. Studies show this is a very real pattern of behavior.
It’s just too bad one of those other parents didn’t try to tackle me inside the playarea. I doubt I’d have made it past “One…“.