Are you kidding me? Has this mother lost her ever-loving mind? Seriously, she’s doing this at a QuikTrip during the lunch rush?
These are the thoughts, along with some very bad language, rushing through my mind as I stand in a line that is so long that I’m having 2008 Disney flashbacks. (FYI, the Haunted Mansion so not worth the wait.)
The line I’m languishing in is for the carbonated beverages. I and at least 15 landscape crew workers are unable to get our 44-ounce drink on because a mother is teaching her preschooler the mechanics of pressing a lever. Her cherub is gleefully filling up a cup with ice and then an assortment of fluids all while the mom holds everyone at bay until her child finishes his lesson.
Oh, and it’s a lesson. She’s using a teacher voice and trying to explain carbonation. Every so often she would smile at all of us waiting in line. It was one of those, “Look at me I’m teaching my kid hands-on science. Am I a great mom or what?”
Hey lady, news flash, you’re not a great mom. You’re what I like to call a “public parent.” So in the interest of all the thirsty and sweaty dudes I’m standing next to, your science lesson is coming to an end. As soon as she started teaching her kid rhymes by saying the drink name Rooster Booster over and over, I had to intervene because, dear Lord, I was about to boost her rooster, and I think that’s illegal.
So, I did what had to be done. I grabbed a 32-ounce Styrofoam cup and did a full-frontal assault on the drink area. While I filled up my cup with chunky ice, the surprised mom gave me the extended arm and said, “We’ll be done in just a minute.”
I smiled at her. It’s the smile I save for idiots who think they’re geniuses. It’s kind of a regular, everyday friendly smile but my eyes and the tilt of my head are saying you do not want to mess with me. Rooster Booster seems a little taken aback. This is where I make my move to the Diet Coke and then give an over-the-shoulder to the landscape crews and say in my best mom voice, “C’mon guys, you need to stay hydrated.”
That’s all it took for the drink machines to be liberated and for the mom to stomp off (well, as best as one can stomp off in flip flops) with her preschooler. (P.S. They didn’t even buy a drink.)
Now, I don’t know what’s going on, but lately I’ve seen a proliferation of these public parents — moms and dads who seek a spotlight or audience as they perform mundane parenting tasks. Take Rooster Booster. Was using the QuikTrip’s 36 different drink dispensers a cool way to teach science? Maybe. (OK, my real answer is no, because it’s wasteful. And, for the love of commerce, at least buy a drink.) But why do it during the lunch rush? And why insist on commandeering the entire drink station?
I’ve got similar questions for all the parents sharing on social media how they punished or taught their children a lesson. Are you not a good mother unless one of your parenting techniques goes viral? Do you have to post a “parfie” (parenting selfie) of you making your daughter clean her room?
At Target, I’ve seen moms give their kids what amounts to behavior modification monologues like they were defending their Ph.D. thesis or something. Sadly, everyone within the range of the frozen foods to the shampoos gets to hear it. What’s happened to the time-honored tradition of removing your child to the restroom and privately having this conversation or, even better, the side eye of doom? Why isn’t the car still the No. 1 location for having a parenting moment or meltdown?
I’m worried. It’s seems more and more of us crave a stage for anything we do. We are a “look-at-me world” when quite frankly all of us could benefit from more of a behind-the-scenes approach. Privacy is a good thing, and learning to be private and to keep things private is a life skill. Also, not needing to be the center of attention is necessary to having any prolonged success or happiness in your life.
So for you Rooster Boosters out there: Take a deep breath, step away from the beverage station, and enjoy a parenting moment or two on the “for family members only” stage.
Freelancer Sherry Kuehl of Leawood writes Snarky in the Suburbs in 913 each week. You can follow her on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, twitter @snarkynsuburbs and read her blog at snarkyinthesuburbs.com. She's also written a book, “Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School.’