Ode to Bad Parenting

I was wandering the halls of our local retail emporium yesterday, just a leisurely bit of bonding with my lovely daughter, when I happened upon several examples of what is commonly referred to as Bad Parenting.

Now I’m not normally one to judge; raising children in a society that increasingly has no tolerance for them is a tough ask for even the most civil-minded of breeders. But what I bore witness to yesterday irked me on many levels.

Exhibit A: As it was a public holiday yesterday, most of the shops were closed. This included those nebulous mid-mall ‘kiosks’ – your mobile phone accessory stands, watch repairers, newstands etc. As the fruit of my loins and I traversed the mall in search of sugar-based treats, an extremely loud and annoyed alarm made its presence felt from one of the aforementioned kiosks. Moments later, a frazzled little toddler wobbled out of the area, having obviously set off an alarm with his grubby wandering hands. Enter his mother (presumably), and instead of appearing red-faced and apologetic, she and her partner found the whole thing endlessly comical. Never mind that the rest of us were now sterile thanks to the deafening noise from said alarm. Grrr.

Exhibit B: As we waited in line for the aforementioned sugar, a young family of two adults and two small children got behind us in the queue. Both kids were coughing maniacially, sniffing and were generally unsettled. I shielded my daughter’s face area and hoped that their filthy microbes wouldn’t make their way to our proximity. The mother took a call on her phone, then proceeded to describe in graphic detail their previous 24 hours, which included a trip to the emergency room with their little germ farms suffering from an acute case of gastroenteritis. Clearly, the best place for them to let their children rest and recuperate is a shopping centre full of people, right? This would have to be my biggest annoyance with my fellow breeders: if your kid is sick and potentially contagious, keep them home. It really isn’t that hard.

Exhibit C: Sugar (and microbes, potentially) consumed and working their way around our respective systems, child and I made our way to the car park. On the way, child’s eye was caught by a vibrantly coloured trio of toy horses on a small carousel. For the princely sum of two dollars, these plastic steeds will spin around to the delight of your child or tiny immature adult. I paid the fee and placed my daughter on the pink horse with the purple bow. The contraption spun and a vaguely familiar tune started playing. My daughter smiled and was enjoying herself. Then a man sauntered over with his little boy in tow and hoisted him onto one of the other horses, standing back like daylight robbery hadn’t just taken place.

What is the civilised person to do in cases such as these? It’s a two dollar ride, but should that be the point? It’s not the cost as such, it’s more the thought process (or lack thereof) of this parent that thinks he’s not financially accountable in this transaction.

The ride ended and my daughter and I walked to the car, and on the way I thought of all the cool and biting things that I should’ve said to that dad. But I didn’t. He was bigger than me and he had tattoos.