Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fear and Loathing in Barnes and Noble

I don't know when the day will come when I will know without a shadow of a doubt how to handle certain sticky social situations (try saying that three times fast) involving my kid and another child but I do know one thing - If I catch you physically assaulting my daughter I'm coming for you. So you'd better watch you ass.

And no, I don't care if you're only three years old.

Let's start from the beginning, shall we?

The weather here in the Northeast has been sucktacular this summer and as a result every parent has the same frenzied, haunted look that a person gets when forced to spend day after day stuck in the house with small, rabid little beasts with pointy teeth and sharp claws. Or as I like to call them, preschoolers. So yesterday when it rained yet again, I packed up the girls and went to our crappy weather destination of choice - our local Barnes and Noble.

I like hanging out at B&N. Not only are there new books to read to Chicky that I haven't read at least a gazillion times, magazines to peruse, and a Starbucks on site, but there's also scheduled story times for the kids and a germ infested train set to play with that every ankle bitter in a 20 mile radius has sneezed on. Legal stimulants, the ability to look over the latest People magazine without having to pay for it, and a decent case of bubonic plague all in one place. How can we go wrong?

Well, apparently I was not the only parent to have that idea. The place was packed with strollers and mobs of kids were running around high on cupcakes and freedom from the four walls of their home. It was a recipe for disaster but I was desperate.

Chicky and I shared a sandwich (that I ate most of), sat for storytime (that I did most of the listening to), did a craft (that I did most of) and paid for a book for me (what? I needed a reward for all that effort) and it was still raining outside so we headed back to the train set. In hindsight, I know that was a bad move. I should have steered her toward the picture books. But she wanted to play with the other kids and I needed a moment to soothe a squawking C.C.

The train area was overrun with boys which normally is great for Chicky as she's a pretty physical kid. But my girl was no match for one boy in particular. One her own age but much bigger than Chicky, my little peanut.

She had one train, he had five. She wanted to push her train around the track, he wanted her toy to add it to his stash. He grabbed at it, and Chicky - bless her little heart - would not let go. Not even when he dragged her in a complete circle around the train set. Thankfully there was a nice grandmotherly type there to intervene while I shushed C.C.

But where was the parent, you might be asking yourself? Because I know I was. More like, WHERE THE HELL IS YOUR MOTHER, YOU LITTLE SHIT.

No mom, just dad. Sitting right there in front of the action. Busy flirting with a young mother instead of watching his little bully.

Now I don't care if you're a mom or a dad. Parent your damn devil child. Don't sit there and pay more attention to the 20-something mom with the big tits.

I should have left then but I wanted to let the kid redeem himself. Besides, it's going to take a lot more than someone under three feet tall to run me off.

Yeah, bad idea.

Did the child learn? Uh, no. Did the dad take his eyes off the young mother's chest long enough to watch his kid? Of course not. Before I knew what was happening the boy had Chicky in a full on headlock. It seems like he reached across her body from over her shoulder to grab for the toy and Chicky, once again, would not let it go.

Uh uh, see? Now you've gone and pissed me off, kid.

I had to run across the dad's line of sight with a squealing infant in my arms to stop the little bastard boy from choking my daughter. The grandmother again stepped in to help since the father didn't even notice his son was about to asphyxiate another child.

And as I was reaching for the boy's arm to remove it from Chicky's tender throat she, being totally freaked out about the whole thing, picked that moment to push away from the kid, knocking him off balance and causing him to bump his head (lightly, I swear) into the shelves behind him. I'd be lying if I said I didn't take some perverse satisfaction in that.

Oh right, like you wouldn't?

The kid whined a little that his head hurt and still his father couldn't take his eyes off the woman's cleavage to see what had just happened. That was it, I was done. And I wasn't the only one. Three other parents, including the grandmother, took their kids away from the train set and away from the bully. Apparently, he had been a real monster even before we got there. All that was left was the dad with boobs on the brain and the owner of said breasts and their two children.

I try not to be a helicopter parent because I want Chicky to learn to work certain things out for herself. And Chicky has certainly had her fair share of timeouts from being too rough with other kids. I'm not the world's best parent and I screw up a lot, so I'm not trying to pass myself off as Super Mom. But I wasn't put on this earth to parent another person's kid. So when kids could potentially be harmed I have to step in, whether it's my kid doing something wrong or someone else's. There's no question about it. It could have been a dicey situation, the dad could have taken issue with me disciplining his kid (because I did tell the boy before he bumped his head and before he had removed his arm from my Chicky's neck that what he was doing wasn't right and was hurting her) if he had paid attention for even a second and saw what went down. Instead he ended up looking like a bigger boob than the ones owned by the young mother whose pants he was trying to get into.

And she had a ring, dude. I guess he's just not that observant about anything.


Issa said...

At a wedding last weekend, one of my cousins was that parent. The oblivious one. The one who never really parents, just lets her kid run wild and complains about her kids all the time. We had a few run ins, the shitty kid and I.

Anonymous said...

Oh hell no. uhhuh. That doesn't fly with me. I'd have been in HIS face, between he & the boobs, to let him know his kid was being an asshat. Stupid ppl suck. lol

Glad you were calmer than me LOL

Kat said...

So sorry!!! That totally sucks. But on an ironic note my post tomorrow deals with the chaos that is Barnes & Noble. Wouldn't be great if Mother Nature read blogs and noticed that every one would like a big dose of sunshine about now??

Pgoodness said...

Wow, what a little turd! And the kid, too!! I think I would have had to make some comment to the dad about having his head in her boobs instead of his eyes on his kid on the way out. You obviously handled it better than I would have!

Manic Mommy said...

I hate it when parents don't make their kids behave in public.

I don't even care about correcting other people's kids anymore. I give my son the first crack to defend himself, the parent gets second(?) crack, then I intervene.

Oh and we've toured about every indoor playground in the greater Boston/New England area as well...

Heather said...

I would definitely have corrected the kid...and loudly...with a pointed look at the dad.

Anna Marie said...

Guys can't see past boobs to the ring. It's like some sort of undiagnosed myopia. I would have said something to that dad that would have gotten me AND my progeny banned from B&N for life.

MoxieMamaKC said...

We had a similar run in at the playground a few weeks ago. I used to feel bad for speaking up to other parents when their kids were attempting to maim my child.

Since I adopted the "mess with the pups and you get the bitch" philosophy, my sanity has been (somewhat) restored. My child's safety comes first and now I have no problem calling out useless parents when their little devils are running amok.

But, sometimes, you can't fight hypnotic cleavage and you need to just walk away.

d e v a n said...

He sounds like an asshat. Moron.

Greens and Pinks said...

I had a similar situation at 38 weeks pregnant in the waiting room at Charlotte's dermatologist's office at Children's. While I was at the registration desk, she and another little girl were pushing each other, fighting over a chair - the other mother was staring into space ignoring the fisticuffs. So I yelled at my kid that "NO! Hands are not for pushing!" and my kid rolled her eyes at me and the other kid burst into hysterical tears.

I can't win.

Backpacking Dad said...


Any dad-slut worth his salt knows you don't waste your time with the 20 year old moms. They are still all gooey-eyed with their husbands.


Anonymous said...

Barnes & Noble must be the place...we've dealt with that ourselves. Seriously, dude, your there with your KID. Focus, dad, focus. No, not on those...

Carrie said...

lmao @ backpacking dad...that has got to be the funniest thing I've read all day! Thanks :)

TheMama said...

Yeah, that's when my very non-confrontational self would break out my Irish whisper and say (yell) "Hey! Take your hands off of my child! Where is your mother??"

"Mother," instead of father, of course, to remind the man with his head in the boobs - er, clouds - that he has somehow managed to spawn, and said mother would be none too happy to hear how exactly her son was banned from Barned and Noble under his oh so watchful eye.

Thank GOODNESS we got a little bit of sun in this part of MA today. I was about to evolve webbed feet.

heels said...

Grrrr... The bully kid is annoying, but the horrible father is the one who should be smacked.

SciFi Dad said...

I believe my dad-in-arms said it best: Douche.

I mean, ogling boobs? That's what the interweb is for! (I kid people, please don't burn my image in effigy.)

The truth is, I know dads like that. They avoid parenting their kid by taking them somewhere that they know other parents (usually moms) will do it for them. Lazy bastards.

Christina said...

Ugh. I'm amazed you didn't verbally bitch-slap the dad.

I had to yank an older boy off of Cordy when she was a year old. She was crawling around the mall play area and he decided she was his own little punching bag. I gave him a warning when he tried to rake his nails down her head. But then when he kicked her, I grabbed his arm and yanked him away from her and told him to stay away from her in my best "I will kill you" voice.

Where was his mom? She was off shopping in a nearby store - he was there on his own. Grrr...

Sorry Chicky had to deal with a bully. Sounds like she did a decent job holding her own.

kittenpie said...

My first move in those situations is usually to ask LOUDLY, "Whose child is this?" Meaning everyone is looking at the child who is clearly being left for dead by their parent. Shames all but the most brazen into taking charge of their kid.

And yeah, even though I think Pumpkinpie should use her words to get out of these situations too, I totally got into it with another parent (grandparent, actually) at a dance class a couple of months ago because her little hellion (who had a history of sending Pumpkinpie home with bumps and scratches) was all up shouting in pumpkinpie's face and told her firmly to step back, resulting in the kid bursting into tears. Seems the widdle preshus is just exuberant and only four, and they don't talk to her that way, so I had really hurt her and it was inappropriate. I don't think so. Cow.

Blog Antagonist said...

That parent really drives me crazy. But I've stopped just fuming in silent agony. Something about motherhood alleviates timidity, I guess. But I don't hesitate to point out bad behavior anymore. Honestly, if it was me checking out some dude's package while my kid was beating the crap out of another kid, I would want somebody to yank me back to reality. Nicely, of course.

What a boob.

Heather said...

I may have not stopped at correcting the kid,I would have probably said a few choice words to the dad as well, then I would have crossed Barnes and Noble off the list of places I would be allowed into again.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I so would have went all redneck on that dad's ass and chewed him out.

Glad the Chicky is okay. But hell in a handbag, what the EFF is wrong with some parents????

Ms. Huis Herself said...

Oh, I would definitely have told the kid his behavior was inappropriate... and then started looking around to find the parent. If the child didn't shape up, I've told the parent something along the lines of, "I don't know if you've noticed, but your child has been ____." Give 'em a CHANCE to step up.

But I REALLY like Kittenpie's "Whose child is this?" question and am going to take that idea and put it into my bag of tricks. If the parent is actually paying attention/on their way over, they just can just say, "That one's mine." and take over. If they're not, well then, maybe they'll figure it out. A tad bit of public shaming for the adult wouldn't be all bad in some situations!

Kimberly said...

I would have stepped in too, no question. The dad sounds like a complete ass.

motherbumper said...

I would have pulled the "who are you with?" question on the kid. Usually a parent will suddenly wake up (or in this case remove thoughts from the valley of cleavage) long enough to be either be embarrassed or (more likely) offended that the offspring is being reprimanded by another adult. You know, one who is paying attention and all. GAWD PEOPLE SOMETIMES SUCK.

Julie Marsh said...

One warning: "You are hurting her." And then the gloves are off.

There's a difference between playing exuberantly and physical intimidation. You had every right to step in.

Namito said...

You do what you gotta do. If the pathetic excuse of a parent isn't going to be a parent, and his kid runs wild, you have every right to put on the brakes.

After the Rose Garden in Brookline, I have no qualms about physically removing other children from the Impling. And giving evil eyes to their parents.

The "who are you with?" line works wonders.

Mrs. Schmitty said...

Stuff like that drives me insane. I watch my kids like a hawk and step in when I have to. The bully kids always seem to have those parents, that's why they are the way they are!

josetteplank.com said...

Just saying...

As an employee, I run a pretty tight ship in the kids' department, and I've more than once stood in the middle of the store or the train display and and asked loudly enough to not need a PA system:


And then take it from there.

I've pissed off a lot of parents, but received free lattes from others.

I'm sorry that whoever was in charge on the floor didn't intervene in some way. It's a very tricky situation that employees really don't know how to handle - or can't- but I suppose I have just the right amount of sweet-to-bitchy ratio that I get away with it.

But that sucks. Poor Chicky. And poor other kid is hardly to blame with a dad like that, but yeah...I'll admit to a bit of guilty glee when bully kids gets his due.

josetteplank.com said...

I will say, though, that as a parent with an infant in your arms, it's hard to get all up in someone's face. The little-one gets the brunt of the angry mommy voice, and that's no fun either. I don't blame you for playing it the way you did.

Next time you have both hands free, though, watch out.

mamatulip said...


Other people's kids - the young and the old alike - never cease to amaze me.

Anonymous said...

This is where we differ. I would have drug his kid by the arm over to his dad. Where I would then have explained to him that if I caught his kid being mean to my child one more time I would do some ass whipping for him. And then I would have let my little angel go play with the toys again. Because I'm a hateful ass bitch like that when it comes to other people's kids being mean to my kids. Had to get that off my chest. Thanks!!

MommasWorld said...

I would not have played it off as cool as you did. I have no problem parenting other's children in my friends houses when they are right there or in a crowded airport of strangers.

I would have told the little boy that he had to give up all the trains until he could share. If he didn't like it and threw a fit his dad would have had to deal with it or leave due to brat boys fit over not having any trains.

I have been like this all of my Mommy days and I have yet to be slapped or even given a dirty look by another parent. Usually, I get an appology or an appologetic look.

I am not mean about parenting other's children. I speak to them as calmly as I would to my own children in the same situation. This is not just to help the other child but my own as well.

MommasWorld said...

Ok, normally I don't do this sort of thing unless it is on my blog comments but I just have to say.....

Backpacking Dad - I haven't had milk go through my nose since I was a kid. Thanks for the unexpected burst of laughter. What you said is so true.

Scifi dad - "The truth is, I know dads like that. They avoid parenting their kid by taking them somewhere that they know other parents (usually moms) will do it for them. Lazy bastards." I have seen this and it really annoys me. It seems the only way to get through is with the child.

Jozet at halushki - I would so give you free lattes, lots and lots and biscotti!!

I don't normally read your blogs...Single Mom of three here with a full time job, travel required, making ends meet and trying to beat nostalgia with a giant stick. Basically, I have been sucked up in my own world. Thanks for the laughs and everything. I will be looking all of you up.

I would also like to toss a few pennies at the crazy weather.

Anonymous said...

Now that just sucks.

Sending all my love to you as you prepare for the move. 'Cause moving sucks more.

Miss you

really really

Rach (Mommy Learns to Blog) said...

Way to go Chicky, for standing her ground for so long! I cannot STAND ignorant parents - you bring your child somewhere, you WATCH them. How hard is that? Oh right, the boobs. I can't believe he didn't hear the commotion going on - and if he had said a word to you, I'm guessing that you would have had just the perfect thing to say back. Motherhood turns the best of us into something fierce when it involves our little ones - I would have NO problem disciplining someone I didn't know if they were hurting my little MH!

And I hear ya on the sucktacular weather (I might have to borrow that word a few more times) - as a fellow New Englander, I'd like to know why the weather-people get paid so much to give us the wrong information on an HOURLY basis!

cooler*doula said...

Add me to the list of people who have no problem parenting other peoples' kids in these situations... Doing it loudly, but calmly tends to bring the absent parent back into the moment...

Elleoz said...

You handled it better than I would. I would have marched his little devil ass right over to Boobyman and put him in time out myself.

Evil Mamma Bear comes out when ANYONE messes with my kid.

Anonymous said...

I swear there is something about the Barnes and Noble that tells parents it's ok to check out. It has happened to me so many times. I think I've even written about the Barnes and Noble train table. I hate Barnes and Noble, oh, how I hate it.

Larissa said...

You should see the things that the unattended children do at our local park.

Apparently, some parents have taught that it's A-OK! to urinate through the chain-link fence surrounding the equipment, no more than 5 feet away from some rather young, impressionable children.

If only I had actually been ABLE to find the parents... I don't think they would have liked me all too much.

Dodi said...

ARGH! I feel irritated just reading thins and thinking of all the times I've wanted to knock a child into a shelf! LOL

the new girl said...

This is the one thing that has SHOCKED me as a newer mom. The shit that other people's kids get away with.

I wonder if it's because I only have one and she's young. I don't think that I'll ever get to the point in my motherhood where I'd let my kid steamroll another kid, though.

Can't see it happening.