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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Public Displays of Poor Parenting

Before I had children of my own, I used to look at parents screaming at their kids in public places and think that they must be cruel tyrants, and that I would never subject my children to such humiliation.

Ha! I have already lost count of how many times I have raised my voice at my kids in public. But I think tonight I outdid myself for public displays of incompetent parenting.

At the school fundraiser, my cupcakes were a huge success - by the time we got to the table most of them had disappeared and I was told that the gingerbread ones (with the gummy worms!) sold out almost immediately.

Unfortunately, everything else about the event was a disaster for us. I was on my own with the girls but I really thought I could handle things. Clearly I over-estimated myself. Or under-estimated the chaos the girls could create. Or both.

First, the line for the bbq was long and slow-moving. We stood in the same spot for about 15 minutes and the girls were getting antsy. Big A also kept yelling at me that I had lost my place in line, which was absurd because neither we, nor anyone else had moved - which is what I yelled back at her. She eventually erupted in tears saying I had ruined everything and they were never going to get their hotdogs. About 90 seconds later each of them were happily holding a refined white flour bun filled with processed animal parts and nitrites.

After consuming this abomination of a meal, they started demanding cupcakes. I made my way to the table and let them each choose one. Big A chose the last of my lemon ones and Little A choose a small chocolate one with green icing. As I tried to converse with some other parents, both girls ran off to the playground.

Little A gave me her cupcake, and then took off with me in pursuit trying to clean off the crumbs, ketchup and frosting covering her whole body. Once I had her wiped down, I turned my back for 2 seconds to return the cloth to the stroller and heard her screaming. She was on the ground with an older girl standing above her. Big A came over and accused this girl of knocking Little A to the ground and then dragging her. Say what? I didn't believe this for a second, but the girl's mom hauled her off for a private talk. Later she assured me that there was an inadvertant collision, but her daughter hadn't meant any harm. I assured her that I had not believed there was any ill-intent involved.

Then, a split second after Big A yelled, "Watch me mommy!" from the monkey bars, she took a fall. Now Big A is undoubtedly the biggest cry baby, but this was a hard fall which clearly knocked the wind out of her. In fact, she fell on her back, groaned, rolled over and her face turned red. For a few minutes I was in a complete panic thinking she really seriously injured herself. It was one of those moments that makes you realize no matter what (they do), you would do anything for your children. Just thinking about this moment gives me chills. She was so shaken up that she crawled into Little A's stroller and just sat and cried.

Meanwhile, Little A decided she wanted her cupcake back, only I had thrown it away. She freaked in a way that only a toddler can. I was so frustrated, that I dug it out of the garbage can and simply broke off the part that was touching other matter. This made things worse as I forgot that Little A gets hysterical over broken food. So I threw both cupcake pieces back in the garbage. She got EVEN MORE upset and began digging through the garbage can.

This all happened right in front of a group of mothers who were giggling, but looked pretty horrified at the scene. "You need to get her another cupcake!" one said. I did not agree but Little A did.

When I said another cupcake was out of the question, Little A ran off toward the cupcake table. She made it half way and then just stood and screamed. I left her there, while keeping an eye on her, to blow off steam and stayed with Big A. After about 10 minutes - and several parents approaching her thinking she was lost so that I had to intervene and explain we were having a stand-off* - she came back to us and told Big A to get out of her stroller. Big A refused and the girls began pushing each other which ended with both of them in tears.

As a distraction, I had the brilliant idea of offering them each another cup of juice from the bbq. You know I'm desperate when I am offering them SUGAR WATER! Little A wanted more so I carried her over to the bbq only to discover they had run out. This led to yet another round of hysteria.

Thank goodness my father-in-law showed up a few minutes later to take Little A home for a sleepover! Unfortunately at this point Big A demanded we go home immediately and I was not able to stay to meet her teachers at Curriculum Night. That being said, I felt I'd made a big enough spectacle of myself tonight and wanted to go home and hide.

At least the cupcakes were a success...

*One of the parents who approached Little A happened to be Moe Berg, lead singer of the Pursuit of Happiness (Canadian 80s band). Fortunately, he and his lovely wife were very sympathetic. Still humiliating though!

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