Yesterday I went out with someone that I think is pretty cool, and she brought along her friend, her friend’s teenage son, and her friend’s toddler.
Her friend’s very bratty toddler.
Now, we’d invited the woman (not the friend and family, although later we extended the invitation out of politeness) to dinner because there were important matters we needed to discuss. Also, we’d been trying to talk to the woman while suffering the vibe of ‘I hate to share my friend’ from the friend and watching the brat run around, knocking things over. We also watched as the friend constantly called over the woman to discipline her child. By the time the invitation was extended, I was already wondering why in the hell the friend needed to have someone else put her toddler in time out for her. I mean, I’m okay with the concept of servants… but dayum.
On the friend’s behalf, I don’t know if she’d already made an appointment – as it were, I mean some of these Western customs confuse me – to hang with her friend. My husband and I just kind of dropped by because my husband was going to help out with something.
It quickly became apparent to me – someone who not only raised two toddlers but also took care of a young stepchild, nannied three, and was a very successful babysitter – that the toddler was tired and cranky. He needed correcting. He needed a diaper change. Probably needs potty training. And most definitely needed a nap. But he came to dinner anyway, and was seated in a booster seat, and we commenced at an attempt to having a nice time.
Toddlers can be little terrors, this is true. They want to touch when they’re not supposed to touch. They wiggle. They loudly express frustrations. They kick. They tell authority figures, “No.”
Do you know why they get away with that? Because of all the shitty ass adults that let them. Toddlers will be toddlers. When will adults be adults? While sitting at the table, with this very out of control small one, is when the child’s mother should have stepped up and made a real attempt… instead of staring at her phone. Or the table top. Or anywhere but where my husband and I were sitting. This situation wasn’t like mine when my son was small and any attempt to control him on my part was met with little old women literally coming out of nowhere to tell me how to raise my child. All this child needed was to be met eyes to eyes and told to sit down. No more, no less.
When the child started to stand in his booster seat, I said as nicely as I could something along the lines of, “Hey. You do that, you’re going to fall. You’re going to bust your head wide open. It’s going to hurt. You’re going to cry.” The child actually started to sit down.
That is, until his mother told him to sit down.
This is when the toddler, showing a clear disrespect to his mother, stood back up and told her no. He crossed his arms. He stuck out his upper lip in traditional defiant toddler fashion.
I had had enough.
Even though the mother’s face was angry as I raised my voice – not by much, I mean we were in a restaurant after all – I told the child that he would look at his momma, he would not tell her no, and he would sit his little ass down. Even though he was only about 2, I told him that he respected his mother. That I would at least not put up with that shit at the table. I did say I was sorry, but it wasn’t a real apology. I broke the apology rule. I followed it with, “but” and added that enough was enough.
And you know what?
The little terror sat down.
You know what else? He didn’t get back up again.
As we left dinner, I knew the woman – the one we’d originally invited to dinner – was going to hear all about it. Sure enough, I was told delicately today that it wasn’t my place to say something to the child.
In THEIR tribe, perhaps. When you’re in public with your child, sitting at a shared table, respect to your right as a parent is a two-way street in some circumstances. I had held my piece as long as I could, truly, but there I was at a table, trapped against a phone-addicted neglectful child and her unruly small child.
Let’s talk someone’s place to do something. Do you know what happens when a place isn’t filled by the right people? It creates a gap. Do you know what happens then? Either someone has the brass knuckles to fill it or you get ISIS.
You want to talk respect? Let’s talk respect to the people you’re with. Let’s talk respect to society at large. Most importantly, let’s talk about teaching respect to your little ones so they can get a little respect in return.
Toddlers may be toddlers. But they can’t grow into something better until parents are allowed and willing to actually be parents. It’s a pretty simple equation. The trash should be able to figure that one out.
I can’t begin to count for you the young parents that won’t come near me because they were letting their toddler run all over them and I said something. There was a little girl I used to babysit once. She cussed at her mother. You may remember that post. I said something. The child cried going out my front door.
No, think about that. Someone told that little girl she couldn’t abuse her mother. They didn’t raise a hand to her. They didn’t call her names. They told her no, you don’t act like that. But. She was so used to being the ruler of the house, so used to being the one in charge, it made her cry when she was put in her place. It made her cry. Not because I was mean, or firm. Or got my old-fashioned Indian on. Whatever. It was because she was spoiled.
The family never came back again. Which is great, actually, because they were pretty stupid and it was painful to talk to them. No. Seriously.
Do you know why I have the courage to speak up in these situations? Because I seriously needed someone to do so for me. No one did. Instead, I was browbeaten and pushed around as a young, single parent. I was told I wasn’t allowed to discipline by some and then told my child was spoiled by others. I couldn’t do anything right for anyone, and the people around me stripped me of any power to do anything about it. I couldn’t even go grocery shopping without meeting with trouble. I had child welfare called on me constantly, usually for made up charges because child welfare refused to come unless the charges were serious. I had my life ruined by people who couldn’t stand with me and stand up to my right to have respect from my children. And now, I have empty bedrooms.
I admit I was pretty angry when first told it wasn’t my place, because there the situation was demanding respect from me after having terribly disrespected me first. I said, Hmm. Maybe I should call child welfare next time and let the neglect sort itself out then. But you know, I wouldn’t. I know how that feels.
The proper way to handle this situation is to simply have nothing to do with the so-called mother and her ugly child. The child could be a beautiful young man, but brattiness is ugliness. And neglect is filth. I don’t need those energies in my life. No one who wants a healthy environment should tolerate that in their life.
There’s a line we must all draw as souls finding our path to wisdom. There will come times when people try to cross that line. The hardest lesson I had to learn was when to cut negative people from my life, to make sure they had not corded to my spirit, and to walk on my own two feet.
Id est: No drama llamas.
Besides, dramah llamas, the full blown ones, have this unique talent of making it look like YOU are the drama beast. You could only be standing up for yourself, but those llamas know how to come out of the wash looking clean. Best not to let them handle the laundry to begin with.
I kind of feel sorry for that child. But it’s also not my circus and not my monkeys. It’s more my duty to keep my own three rings clear of the clutter these type of people carry in. No ticker tape necessary. I hate to sweep.
That being said, I’ll just be avoiding that situation from now on. I already don’t make a real attempt to connect to people at large, but it appears for the sake of the environment here at the Temple to Nothing I gotta double down. I wonder what food drama llamas hate. I’ll make sure to serve it at mealtime.
TLDR summary: If you want goodness, success and positivity in your life you have to cultivate. Dress to impress, even if it’s only for yourself or some dead White guy. SHAVE. Wash your stinking hair. Keep fertilizer for the dirt. And pour cayenne pepper on the aphids. Sneeze for honest to god 10 minutes. Repeat.