Unless you were one of those horribly neglected Romanian Orphans (and If you are, I’m very sorry, I don’t mean to offend), I’m betting on the majority of you having had a MOTHER. And if you had a non-traditional family, like say two Dads, or were raised by a sibling, grandparent, foster parent(s)… Chances are, there was an adult or authority figure to give you an idea what kind of behavior was and was not acceptable. And failing that, at some point, most of you had some sort of experience with school- again, an environment that more or less sets out the ground rules for decent human conduct.
And then, there are the roaming heathens. The ones that make their way individually or as a group into workplaces, public places, my neighborhood. I’m SURE they have parents. But where the hell are they and why aren’t they PARENTING!
It’s a natural progression, if a child grows up without significant repercussions for their poor behavior, then as adults, they have no framework to build on. Like the kids and the yellow dog next door- My less than terrific neighbors had a dog. He was a nice big dog and he was yellow. His owners were busy people and thought that tying him to a rope and leaving him out front for the whole day was ok. I called him Jack-jack. We became fast friends over pizza crusts and chunks of roast beef when I realized that nobody over there was ever going to come out and make him stop barking his idiot yellow head off. So, Jack-jack and I had a deal. If he stopped barking when I went out there and said “Hey Jack-jack! SHUT UP and lie down!”, I would stay out there and talk to him and tell him he was good and sometimes I would bring him treats. One day, the initial reply to BARK! BARKBARKBARKBARKBARK did not get the result we had been practicing, so I went out onto the porch to discover 3 kids standing at the end of the walkway flailing around and taunting the dog. That was a mistake. Crazy Underwear Lady (heheh that’s another story), DOES NOT LIKE ASSHOLE HEATHEN CHILDREN! I shouted at the kids and told them to bugger off and leave the dog alone. Away they went, sullenly and probably discussing plans to come back with a can of gasoline later. The next day, same thing. I shout at the kids, this time telling them I will call the cops if they don’t stop bothering the dog. I really would have, except I wasn’t sure what the cops would do. Probably hassle the dog owner. Finally, the third day in a row, these little jerks come back. I bolted downstairs as Jack-jack’s barking became more and more agitated- I could hear him straining against his collar. I calmly put on shoes and walked out the door to find the kids were actually throwing stuff at the dog and waving a stick around (I had to repeat to myself “I must not beat the children I must not beat the children”). Down the steps and starting across the yard, the little bastards are so wrapped up in their “game” they don’t see me until I get to the dog.
“What are you doing?” one of them asks me
“Setting the dog loose” I said
I’ve never seen anyone move that fast.
I went back in the house and found Husbands beef jerky and Jack-jack and I sat on his steps and shared the whole bag. Those kids never came back.
I was initially surprised that I didn’t have an encounter with some enraged “parents”, but as the days passed, and all was quiet- even Jack-jack, I realized that what those kids needed was a significant and meaningful consequence to match their horrible behavior. Getting eaten alive by the very dog they had been taunting and terrorizing was apparently just the right threat.
But those kids will eventually grow up to become Adults. Asshole Adults. Like the ones last night, who wandered into the neighborhood to view a home for sale. They pulled up across the street and completely blocked a driveway. I know the house and I popped a quick text message over there to let them know- then I shouted “YOU CAN’T PARK THERE!”. They looked around to see who was shouting, and kept walking. I struggled with my rage then and there. I found myself wishing I had a crappier car so I could “accidentally” move theirs a few inches to the left. Visions of property destruction and righteous vindication danced in my head. I wished I had an angry yellow dog to set loose. But what stopped me? Oh, right, I was taught that that kind of behavior is WRONG. Just like I did NOT actually sic the Yellow Dog on the Heathen Children, I did NOT march over and pull the valve stems from Asshole Parker’s tires. I let them know they were assholes, and went back into the house.
The kids with the dog, the Asshole Parkers, the new guy at work who pissed all over the toilet seat and left it like that, the GROWN MAN who COUGHED IN MY FACE over the counter while he paid for his beer… To all of them, I think to myself “Your mother would slap the shit out of you if she were standing here”… The problem is, she probably had the chance and didn’t take it. And while I don’t get to smack anyone, and I know it’s bad form to point out when someone’s being an asshat, I point it out anyway. Because people like that make this world a crappier place to live in. My bad manners aren’t even a blip on the radar. MY child knows how to behave in public. We’re changing the world- one jerk at a time!