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Parents that make you go… “Why?”

July 19, 2010

Parenting is one of those skill sets that you make up as you go, and they seem to evolve and deform from one child to the next. I know this not because I am a parent, but because I have parents. Some things work well enough so they stick around as parental laws. Rules like, you can’t come home until a certain time, or playing in the street unless you are wearing a helmet… or is that riding your… and I think I got that first one backwards. Yeah, actually I think it’s you have to be home by a certain time. Well, I suppose at rule actually depends on the parents and the child involved. Sometimes though, you’ll see, or hear about, parenting decisions that really just make you say, “What the fffffrankly, well, just, you know… WHY?”

This first experience I witnessed a few weeks back at the local Art Fair during a hot afternoon. As the heat began to swelter, Angela and I found ourselves in the food tent sitting at a table eating some fries and enjoying some ice cold water while enjoying the shade. As I chomped on a crunchy wedge of deep fried potatoey goodness I noticed Angela’s eyes suddenly widen. She then whispered, “Look behind you.” As I turned around in my seat I noticed a small and empty stroller. Behind the stroller was a mom, holding a small pile of clothes in one hand and using the other to pour ice cold bottled water on a little child standing next to her wearing nothing but a white diaper.

As ice water flowed off his head and onto his bare torso, he didn’t really cry, but there was a gasp with eyes full of surprise while he clinched onto his moms pants to keep his balance. The lady stopped long enough to take a swallow or two and bent over saying something to the kid. The kid just shook… all of him, he was freezing. I could even see his teeth chattering together.

A friend of the lady then walked up with a little person of her own in a stroller and asked the first lady what she was doing. She replied, “He was hot so I’m helping him cool off.” And that was it, the ladies started talking and the little kid stood shivering in the sun trying to warm up. I turned my back to the scene looked and Angela and simply asked, “Why?” She just shook her head in reply.

As we started talking about the art of poor parental decisions, she told me a little story that a lady she use to work with had shared with her one morning a few years back. Apparently, one evening as this coworker pulled up to her house she saw her husband on the roof doing a little re-shingling work. Then she noticed that about ten feet from where he was working was her four year old boy… on the roof, sitting against swamp cooler, which was attached to the roof. The boy was facing his dad just sitting there looking around. She raced up to the house, jumped out of the car, and yelled at her husband to get the boy off the roof that second.

This took a little longer than expected. The father had taken a few precautions, such as putting the kid in a climbing harness, duct taping the kid to the cooler, and then wrapping a rope around the kid and the cooler three times and then tying a knot to ensure that the kid stayed put. In short, the little one had no chance of moving from that spot until his dad undid all the safety knots and released the kid from his perch.

Once the child was safely back on the ground, she began the husband scolding process. He tried explaining that their son had refused to stay on the ground in the first place. He kept following his dad up the ladder because he was curious to see what his dad was doing. So instead of fighting the kids persistence, he just took the kid up with him and made sure there was no way the kid would be able to move until the dad wanted him to. The boy was happy and content on the roof, sitting there asking questions about what his dad was doing, followed by a barrage of “why” and once satisfied with the answers he had received he just sat there quietly, looking around the neighborhood. The wife then began to explain all the reasons why it was a monumentally bad idea to take a four year old up to the roof of your house and duct tape him to the house’s swamp cooler. As the discussion continued, the husband eventually conceded that it was probably… definitely not the best decision.

I’d have to agree, it’s a bad idea in general to take any little kid and put them on a slanted roof. However, I’ll admit I do find a tiny smile creeping across my face when I envision a little four year old kid wearing round black rim glasses contently sitting on the roof of his house, duck taped to a cooler.

What are your thoughts on this visual? Also, do you have any “Why?” parenting moments that you’ve witnessed?

Image Source:
Google Images, key words: bad parents.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. ReNae Johanson permalink
    July 19, 2010 6:05 pm

    hahahahahaha…oh my gosh that is hilarious. I have PLENTY of WHY moments in parenting, though NONE of them my own. LOL I am a pretty good parent. Just ask my brilliant seven year old. She is duct tape free, never been hung upside down and NEVER had water dumped on her. Her DAD on the other hand has had PLENTY of WHY moments. LOL One that STILL pisses me off to this DAY is at the zoo. He found it funny….HUMOROUS even to dangle Tristan over the edge of the SHARK POOL. He doesn’t see WHY I turned four shades of purple, and srambled to grab my child from him…who was ONLY SIX MONTHS OLD AT THE TIME…and still scratches his head at the fact that I didn’t let him NEAR her for the rest of the day. He KNOWS that the ONLY fear I have in this WORLD is sharks…but thought it would be funny to just dangle her…here sharky sharky…jerk! LOL This story just made me smile though. I love the image I got of the little boy duct taped to his roof. LOL Surprised he didn’t wave to all the cars passing by…

    • July 19, 2010 7:47 pm

      Wow, I would have kicked him in the junk just to drive the point home. Yeah that’s a “WHY!!??!!” moment if I’ve ever heard one.

  2. Derik permalink
    July 19, 2010 6:18 pm

    As a parent, I understand the Huh? aspect of parenting. When you first become a parent you have High Ideals, and each child after becomes less of a genius and more of ” yeah he/she is normal”.

    However, with experience you learn to ignor the stares of people who are looking and say Why? becaus you live with the child.

    Also as you gain experiance. My first teenager and I fought a fair amount. I didn’t understand how he could be so foolish and he just wanted space. I learned something though, my second teenager tried to pull the same you made me mad I am going to shut you out. I quickly recognized it for what it was and turned the volume up on my car radio and drove to the market. while inside I bought two chocolate bars in addition to my groceries. I didn”t offer to share instead I just ate it quite conspicuosly infront of her. She broke down and asked if I wasn’t sharing. I just simply said “I never said that I just thought you weren’t talking to me” Silent treatment over Dad one child one. To people who may have seen my would have wondered why is he eating chocolate infront of his daughter and not sharing.

    To that I just say, DON”T JUDGE ME…. No I’m just kidding I say nothing I no longer notice people staring.

    • July 19, 2010 7:52 pm

      I remember you! Eating chocolate in front of your poor teenager. I was at the stop light and thought to myself, what I nice dad eating all that chocolate to make sure it wasn’t poison! Good man there. Now I see I was judging you incorrectly! I’m reporting you to um… I’ll call your mom and tell her… I think I still have their number 🙂

  3. Heather Stone permalink
    July 20, 2010 4:14 am

    A friend I “shared” this Smirk with asks:

    “the question that i ask on the subject of nature/nurture – do we consciously find ways to nurture an inherent nature rather than react to someone else’s ‘nurture’? Liked the article. ”

    What are your opinions on this. We had been discussing the apparent decline of “empathy” in our Western society.

    • July 20, 2010 11:30 pm

      Ah the good old nature vs. nurture conversation. I think the first thing to remember when going into this type of discussion is that it is a discussion of generalizations and not specifics, so blanket statements care always challenged because of the various exceptions to the statement based on very independent and finite personal experiences. With that being said… let’s generalize away!

      As always, when talking about other people kids, the answer is yes and no. Depends on the parents really, but for the sake of perpetuating this conversation forward I’ll say this. People tend to nurture their children away from their nature, or at least they try. When I was kid, there was no ADD or ADHD, I believe we were active and it was explained to our parents that we had overactive imaginations. If parents don’t have the energy, and let’s face it, most don’t, to keep up with their kids, medication seems the process for correcting personality glitches that the parents might not be all that excited about. Note to mention that I think if people would stop (I am thinking mostly of Americans here since that is my frame of reference) so much junk food and fast food and letting them get all hopped up on sugar and caffeine, and actually took the time to feed them real food on a regular basis, the youth would not be nearly as high strung and irritating.

      As for nurturing ones nature I think you can do it, but I think it’s also a personality match. How come some teachers can get through to some students and connect with them where others cannot. I think in some cases the teacher’s personality of things they have learned in their life is in sync with the natural personality of the student.

      … Did I answer your question? I think I did, but I’m pretty sure I got a bit side tracked as well. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing my Smirk! I’m glad your friend enjoyed it. Cheers!

  4. July 21, 2010 6:22 pm

    Sorry about being late to the party. Any Why? Moments? Yes sir, as a matter of fact I do. I was ten or eleven, somewhere around that age, and had a nasty painful sunburn. My mother, who I love and try to overlook much of the time, went into “Mommy mode” to try and soothe the burn from my skin. There was no Aloe Vera or lotion for sunburns around the place, but she did manage to find something that said she claimed was for “itching and burning”.
    She opened the little container and fingered a nice big glob of white paste onto the end of her digit and applied it to my young back and shoulders. The effects were felt immediately. The burn was no longer the sizzle of misery, instead it felt like someone had poured steaming facial wax onto my skin that no amount of screaming or water or ice or cool towel could extinguish.
    I ran around the house as though I were actually on fire, begging for someone to put me out. I guess the inferno lasted about half an hour and on top of the sunburn I was left with second degree damage. The soothing balm was called, Blue Star Ointment…For Jock Itch.

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