How to Correct Other People’s Children

To be honest, I love it when other parents correct my kid’s behavior because there’s a much greater chance of her taking the advice of anyone who isn’t me. I’m her mother. In order to take my advice she first has to roll her eyes, flip me off in her head, go away, consider the advice, somewhat twist it up until it becomes her idea and then, and only then, will the advice be applied.

It’s fun to watch, but it’s a timely process. When Mayhem’s mom, on the other hand, throws down a “you two knuckleheads knock it off or someone’s gonna die,” the advice is applied instantly. I swear to you if I was in a restaurant and the Madness was being insane and someone just calmly said to her “Your behavior right now is bothering every other person in here, do you think you could just be cool?” I would buy that person a drink. And it would totally work. Madz would be shocked into submission. But that is simply not a thing that is done. And for many good reasons, so probably don’t try it.

ON THE OTHER HAND. If that same person came up to me and said, “your kid’s behavior is bothering every other person in here right now…” I would set that person on fire. With my eyes. Because I KNOW.

But there are those times that a child’s parent is not immediately available or is otherwise distracted and a kid is clearly in need of some realignment. These are often the children of parents who are chronically unavailable. Then, isn’t it our job as a community to step in and give a nudge? Isn’t mom, after all, really just a job title for lady who provides food and behavioral adjustment as needed?

When I was a kid, I remember a Friday treat being a trip to Round Table Pizza. Mom would get a large pizza and a beer. I would immediately spill my coke, (and not get another because obviously I couldn’t be trusted with straws) and then Whiskey and I would be given a fistful of quarters and a gentle shove towards the little closet full of video games.

On this one particular evening, some little shit boy shoved me away from Spy Hunter so he could play. My brother was too busy killing it on Galaga to step in so I went sniffling to mom.

Did mom go and drag some other poor mom away from her beer to make her kid apologize and go through the whole embarrassing “he’s usually not like this,” charade? No. Did she go straight to management and create some ridiculous scene to humiliate the little jerk and his family? No. Mom walked calmly into the little game closet. She leaned close to the boy, smiling her bright, pacifying mom smile the whole restaurant could see through the glass sound wall sectioning off game-land, and she said quietly but clearly, “If you ever touch my daughter again, I will rip your arms and legs off.”

Overkill? Maybe. I’m sure the kid’s mom appreciated the fact that she didn’t have to stop enjoying her afterwork pint with her husband well away from little Jimmy. I’m also pretty sure that I would get arrested if I tried that today. Sometimes, though, the biggest kid in the arcade needs to be reminded that he’s not the biggest kid in the restaurant. It builds character. With fear.

I think that might be our actual family crest.


Bonus reader points if you know which posts the illustrations on the shield came from.



5 thoughts on “How to Correct Other People’s Children

  1. Wasn’t that duck the one your mom used to terrify you guys? Kept showing up and staring at you. Ended up in a corner of your room or something one night? Tell me if I’m right!!!

  2. I am late to the party on this but I had to say that personally I will never approach someone else’s kid. If the parent doesn’t want to deal with the child then too bad for them. I have been physically threatened by parents who thought I was giving the stink eye to their precious children, so no I won’t be correcting them anytime soon. It just isn’t safe anymore.

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