Irritating Public Parenting

Okay. Whether or not you are currently or will ever be a parent, I know that everyone can relate to being in a public place and observing irritating public parenting. By that I mean seeing a child behaving in a less-than-desirable way and then watching the parent/child interactions and fighting the urge to smack the parent in the head V8 style and say, “Well no sh*t!”.

This morning we took Monkey to the Edmonton Zoo (okay probably more for our own enjoyment than for his since he is only 8 months old). We had an amazing time and we all really enjoyed it. Then we hit the concession stand where we hungrily but grudgingly agreed to give away our next born child in exchange for a mediocre burger and fries.

The line was moving at a glacial pace and Hubby was walking around with Monkey who was sleeping in the stroller. This long line and alone time gave me lots of time to observe the people around me: a young mother in front of me with three hooligans for children but a grandmother who was firm and kept them in line. A young couple behind be complaining about his parents/her in-laws who eventually left in favour of going to McDonald’s and leaving the zoo altogether. And then, oh, and then, we had Payton, honey, her mother, and I am guessing a step-brother. Let’s just say that in my books, her big brown eyes and long curly hair was cute for about 3 minutes until I noticed the horns hiding just beneath her fluffy locks. You may not have known that 2 year-olds can have horns.

They can.

Payton was all over the place. Hanging off the railing, sitting on the ground, in the stroller, out of the stroller, here, there, everywhere. When asked what she wanted to eat she would scream with all the energy of the nearby primate wailing atop his climber, “SNACKS!”. A two-year-old cannot read a menu so she probably could have used a bit more guidance when asked what she wanted, but instead of that? “SNACKS!”.

I think she perforated my eardrum.

Now let’s not blame Payton entirely. She is 2 after all and a 2 year old can only take so much responsibility for her own behaviour. And it quickly became obvious that her pretty, young Mommy was likely to blame more than anyone else. Time and time again she would tell Payton to do something “or else”. And you know what? Payton never did it. And there was never any “or else”.

“Payton, honey. Get in the stroller or we’re leaving”. No stroller. No leaving.
“Payton, honey. Stop swinging on the bars or we’re not ordering any lunch”. Still swinging, still lunch.
“Payton, honey. Come back over here or you don’t get any fruit snacks”. She was still over there. And she still got her fruit snacks.

Do you see a trend here? Can we maybe take a wee stab in the dark and guess why Payton, honey, acts the way she does?

My mother-in-law has given us but one piece of parenting advice that I think is more important than any long-winded parenting book you could ever read: “Say what you mean, and mean what you say”.

Well Payton’s Mommy doesn’t know my mother-in-law, but perhaps she should.

By the time I received my bland chicken sandwich, room temperature fries and over-priced root beer I was delighted to say goodbye to Payton, honey. As I got to our table where Hubby was now feeding Monkey his lunch, I stroked Monkey’s head and looked at his yogurt-covered face, grateful for the fact that at this point in his life he is stroller bound and not able to talk back.

But I know one day my trying times will come. I will be the Mommy in line with a 2 year old in tow, trying to decide what to get for lunch.

And I will do anything and everything I can to make sure that Monkey doesn’t turn out like Payton, honey.


  • Oh love your stories! I too have come across that parent that has no real punishment for their child… Dare I say I'm related to one. I won't name any names to be polite.
    Only a few times have I actually interjected in a parents struggle to parent and only at the gym where it's my turf so I can get away with it. But it is astounding how…utterly stupid… Some people can be when it comes to kids. I've actually had parents amazed that I get their kid to listen to me. And usually they pawn it off on the whole, "well kids always listen better to others than they do their own parents." most of the time I think that's true because the parent doesn't know how to connect with their kid.. And that's sad.


  • Love it! The Payton, honey's of the world make us greatful for our sweet ones even when they too show their tiny horns. Only problem with being a teacher is the day Payton, honey takes a seat in your class and now you have to fix her without it being her fault, because it never is Payton's fault or her parents but your's! I love when they ask all eagerly what they can do to help her and then NEVER attempt them because it's "too much work" to make her listen and to follow through with the "or else". But really parents its only work in the beginning until they figure out you actually mean your "or else's"! Then its much easier, just give it a try!

    Thanks for sharing! Love the way you write 🙂
    ~ Ashley

  • Love this one! I fully intend to follow through on my "or else" consequences….however I fear that mommy's personality has been inherited by the little one. As a kid I would consider the punishment and weigh it against the behaviour and I usually decided to accept the punshment and keep doing what I was doing! Yep, I was one of those kids! My parents always followed through on the "or else" but I didn't care. When I was told not to do something and no consequence was mentioned I would ask what would happen if I did it anyway…and I often did it! I fear that now that I am a mom, karma will bite me in the ass for being a willful, devilish child!

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