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November 20, 2005

A Shout-Out to All The Childfree Folks Out There

Here's a wombfruit that justifies every single awful horrible thing you might ever say about sprogs and the breeders who squatted them out. To give some context, it's apparently a nine-year-old, playing an online game on his XBox, having a fit because his mother won't bring him chocolate milk. He doesn't appear to be aware his microphone is on and that all his online buddies can hear him cursing like a sailor -- at his mom. It's Google video, and you really have to experience it for yourself. The "fun" part really kicks in about halfway in.

For the record, if that were my kid, and he ever spoke to me that way, first I would slap him into the next week and then I would make him watch as I smashed apart his XBox with a hammer. However, it wouldn't be my kid, since the minute something even vaguely resembling that came out of my kid's mouth, there would be an accounting. Let us grant that a kid doesn't get like that overnight; he has to get away with that sort of crap for a very long time to get to that point. This is a mom who I suspect deserves to be slapped well into the next week herself. I mean, honestly. I can't even imagine my child pulling something like this.

Posted by john at November 20, 2005 11:56 PM

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Comments

Harry Connolly | November 21, 2005 12:35 AM

Damn.

I'd hate to be that kid when he goes to school tomorrow. Everyone's going to know it's him.

John Scalzi | November 21, 2005 12:37 AM

I'd hate to be that kid's teacher.

Harry Connolly | November 21, 2005 12:41 AM

Yeah, Mr. Lempke in third period Sosh is gonna be loading his desk with little cartons of chocolate milk. And Mountain Dew, just in case he changes his mind back.

Vassilissa | November 21, 2005 12:54 AM

I'd hate to be that kid if I had a moment of clarity and decided to try and grow up and be a reasonable human being. He's got a world of pain ahead of him.

Audrey Estock | November 21, 2005 12:57 AM

Uh. Wow. I'd never even dream of saying anything like that to my mother. I mean, I get uncomfortable when we're watching a movie or something together and someone swears. Swearing in front of her would just be...

But then again, I don't tend to swear anyway. I have adopted the habit of saying fudge, crud, and shiz unless I'm really upset. Damn is an everyday word for me, though.

Harry Connolly | November 21, 2005 01:11 AM

Once, many years ago, my buddy invited me to spend the weekend with his family in the Poconos. I went. We were about 15 or 16, and he was the youngest child. His sisters were all 18 or older, and two of them were there with us.

The first night, at dinner, his mom set up the table but forgot the salt. Eldest sister, who was seriously annoyed by this, berated her for several minutes, starting off with "How could you be so *stupid*!"

For the rest of the weekend, I left the cabin first thing in the morning and we didn't return until after dark. It made my skin crawl to be around my friend's family, and it explained a lot about his personality.

RONW | November 21, 2005 01:14 AM

The brat must tip well for the room service, if that's what it should be called.

Ian Mathers | November 21, 2005 02:02 AM

That is some bad parenting right there. The kid may very well be irrevocably tainted at this point, and he's only 9.

Chris Lehmann | November 21, 2005 02:14 AM

*sigh*

And they wonder why teaching is a tough profession... if this kid treats his *mom* that way...

Al | November 21, 2005 03:27 AM

Slapping is not the answer. Gunfire is the answer.

Halzebier | November 21, 2005 04:03 AM

So you believe in corporal punishment (administered by parents)?

"Slapping him into the next week" sounds as if you'd lack an impassionate approach, though. It wouldn't be "I hate doing this, but it's gotta be done.", but more as if you'd *enjoy* it.

(Okay, I'm being provocative. I don't think you're the domestic violence type.)

Hal

Scott | November 21, 2005 05:08 AM

I weep for the future.

See, I'd say that's adequate reason not to have kids.

Oh, not because they may turn out that way, but rather because regardless of how my kids would turn out, they'd have to put up with jackasses like that.

In other words: Sheesh, kids these days! Back when I was a kid, we would never call our parents liars for not bringing us chocolate milk.
And DEFINITELY not while attempting to team kill. I mean... seriously, yelling at your mother is one thing, but shooting your team-mates? That's just WRONG. TKFt, with an emphasis on the Ft.

Brandon | November 21, 2005 05:14 AM

Related story: I saw someone posting on the mefi thread from whence this came with the name jscalzi and I thought, for a few seconds, "How amusing, it's someone with the same initial and last name as Scalzi." But of course, it was you. Small web.

Also, it's fun to watch memes grow.

Maggie | November 21, 2005 06:44 AM

Definitely beat the hell out of the kid's mother first.

I can't imagine either my kids doing that either. No way in hell. They'd get snatched bald-headed if they even thought about it.

kat | November 21, 2005 07:46 AM

When I was about three, I threw my one and only true temper tantrum - threw myself on the ground, kicked, beat the floor, the works. My parents stood and watched until I ran out of breath. Then my father said, in the voice of doom, "Done yet?"

Then I think I got spanked; that's not what I remember. It was surfacing from the rage and realizing that I was now further from getting what I wanted than I ever had been. I never tried that particular trick again.

This kid, on the other hand, was clearly given what he wanted so he'd shut up and stop making so much noise. Bad idea. Kids are manipulative little monsters, and if they find an approach works, they'll keep using it.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | November 21, 2005 08:08 AM

There's a world of assumptions in the idea that anyone is "irrevocably tainted" at the age of nine.

Some kids take certain kinds of damage and never get over it. But lots of kids recover just fine from all sorts of apalling stuff.

It's good that, as a culture, we're starting to get the idea that what we do to kids matters. But I really think we sometimes overdo it. For instance, it's dreadful when kids get sexually molested, but it's not helpful that, once it happens and gets discovered, many adults in their environment make it abundantly clear that the kid in question is now permanently broken, scarred, damaged goods, etc.

A side observation. But that "irrevocably tainted" bit really bugs me.

WizarDru | November 21, 2005 08:20 AM

This is, of course, old news. This particular clip is months old, although no less shocking the first time you see it.

The problem is poor parenting, plain and simple. You have several clues to this point. His attitude is a big one and his language certainly the one that gets us...but note also what he's doing: playing a completely inappropriate game for his age. He should be playing Mario Party or Ratchet & Klank, not SOCOM or Counter-Strike.

This isn't just lazy parenting, it's BAD parenting. I have a two wonderful (if high-maintenance) children, and I won't pretend to know this woman's circumstances...but I can't think of many to excuse this kind of shoddy treatment of her child. Because make no mistake, by failing to set boundaries and actually PARENT, she is making her own problem and doing harm to her child.

Gamefam has a good article about this from back in October (although the video is from the summer, I believe):
http://gamefam.blogspot.com/2005/10/chocolate-milk.html

John Scalzi | November 21, 2005 08:23 AM

Agreed that the kid is playing a totally inappropriate game, and it's a sign of questionable judgement on the part of the parent. I do think kids can play games that are not generally regarded as age-appropriate, but that involves both parental involvement in the game and a strong understanding of where boundaries lie. This kid shouldn't be plaing this game in a million years.

Toward PNH's point: Indeed, the child is recoverable, although as a practical matter I wouldn't want to have to be part of the recovery effort.

WizarDru | November 21, 2005 08:49 AM

Agreed, I should make that clear. I think that the ESRB is a good starting point, but it's not substitute for parental judgement. Different children have different maturity levels, and what's appropriate varies from family to family.

My children have seen and enjoyed the original Star Wars trilogy several times, for example, but I found watching the 40th anniversary edition of "The Sound of Music" to be more challenging, as it raised questions in my 8 year-old daughter about the Anschluss and Nazi Germany. The same applies for video games; MegaMan shooting robots is not nearly as complicated to explain as Samus arriving too late to save some space marines in Metroid Prime 2.

There are games available for every age level, even if it takes some effort to determine which is which. Again...parenting.

Leslie | November 21, 2005 09:43 AM

The mind boggles. I'd be unthrilled with my 16 year old playing that game and if any of my kids used that sort of language towards me....well actually I can't imagine them doing so since they know better than to behave that way towards anyone. Truly grotesque parenting. They haven't done that kid any favors.

I agree with John and PNH that civilizing that child, while probably possible, would be a miserable, daunting task.

And before anyone goes off at me about the game thing I'd just point out that simple shoot-em-ups don't teach anything I want my kids putting hours into learning and I'm married to a former role playing game designer.

mythago | November 21, 2005 11:17 AM

I can't even imagine my child pulling something like this.

Your child is normal.

It's possible (perhaps even likely) that this kid is simply a brat and mal eleveé. It's also possible that this is a kid who has something wrong with him. Anybody who really has what is euphemistically referred to as a "high-maintenance" child has been on the receiving end of somebody else sniffing about how if it was THEIR child, why, THEIR superior parenting (perhaps with a little gratutious violence thrown in) would insure such behavior never occurred.

Speaking of violence, I'd recommend some for the folks assuming that it's all Mommy's fault this kid is an asshole. Children are only Daddy's responsibility when they're good, right?

jess | November 21, 2005 11:22 AM

That is some really bad permissive parenting at work here. Kids need boundries. They need their parents to say "if you are going to be rude and curse at me then you don't have the right to play video games" Kids who have parents like that turn into reall jackasses as adults. I don't know if you can be irevocably broken because your parents were to negiligent or too passive or too weak to actually lay down the law with you. But it does help to make the world a sadder place because you're giving the world more more asshole that nicer people will have to put up with.

John Scalzi | November 21, 2005 11:23 AM

Mythago:

"It's also possible that this is a kid who has something wrong with him."

Indeed possible. Although one would still have to wonder why mom (and dad -- point taken) think it's wise to let such a child play an "M"-rated game.

Brian Greenberg | November 21, 2005 11:24 AM

(DISCLAIMER: I'm at work, so I didn't watch the video, but I think I get the gist from the comment thread).

PNH - I see what you're saying, but I think the kid is only recoverable if he suddenly inherits different parents. To get to this point, he first had to get away with saying "No" to his parents, then throwing temper tantrums, then being rude, etc., etc. At this point, the parents have lost all authority and respect in the eyes of this kid, and even with a "coming to Jesus" moment for the parents, the kid's not going to listen to a word.

The part of this thread that bugs me is the "here's a reason not to have kids" logic. I think there are some words missing. To wit: "here's a reason not to have kids if you really don't want kids." People who want children & raise them even moderately well never approach that point. IMHO, anyone who's worried that, despite their best efforts, their kids are going to "turn out" like that is just being paranoid...

mythago | November 21, 2005 11:41 AM

Although one would still have to wonder why mom (and dad -- point taken) think it's wise to let such a child play an "M"-rated game.

Oh hell, that's a whole nuther rant in and of itself. Or why the parents don't make the kid turn off the game and come get his own chocolate milk, for that matter.

But I do believe there should be a Federal law that people who don't have kids should be required to archive all their My Parenting Will Pwnzor j00 comments, and be forced to re-read them every three months when their own crotchfruit is born. It will either be a relief that their own children are well-behaved, or a reminder that it's easy to be a perfect parent when you aren't one.

PeterP | November 21, 2005 12:03 PM

I think, on further examination, we can clearly blame the chocolate milk for this little episode. Clearly, sullying an otherwise nutritious beverage with excess sugar is directly responsible for this childs rude behaviour. I blame his parents for allowing it into the house, and the Nestle corporation in general for the downfall of our society.

Or it could just be bad parenting. But blaming an external component is so much easier, don't you think?

Leslie | November 21, 2005 12:15 PM

Mythago-

But I do believe there should be a Federal law that people who don't have kids should be required to archive all their My Parenting Will Pwnzor j00 comments, and be forced to re-read them every three months when their own crotchfruit is born. It will either be a relief that their own children are well-behaved, or a reminder that it's easy to be a perfect parent when you aren't one.

That is dead on. It's amazing how much everyone knows about parenting before they are parents. Wish I knew as much now

Dean | November 21, 2005 12:25 PM

The child is imminently 'recoverable'. He's learned to behave in a certain way, and he can learn to behave in a different way. Given a change in parental tactics, he'd probably be under control in a week. But given the level of permissiveness and verbal aggression that he's probably been accustomed to (he didn't come up with that 'liar' business on his own), it'd likely be a hellish week.

The problem is that his parents (certainly his mother, to whom he is speaking) clearly don't have a clue.

Donna | November 21, 2005 12:35 PM

Mythago:

Or why the parents don't make the kid turn off the game and come get his own chocolate milk, for that matter.

It seems pretty clear to me that that kid isn't going to shut that game off or go get his own chocolate milk, no matter what. And had he been my kid, I'd have shut the game off about 20 seconds into that tirade. And then locked up the game system for a looooong time.


Brian:

The part of this thread that bugs me is the "here's a reason not to have kids" logic. I think there are some words missing. To wit: "here's a reason not to have kids if you really don't want kids."

Spot on. You get out of any venture what you put into it, and that includes raising your kids. If you don't want to raise 'em, don't spawn 'em.

Matt Arnold | November 21, 2005 12:49 PM

Several themes are emerging in these comments. One is that new parents don't know how to raise kids. Therefore, having a kid means you're going to screw up for sure. What kid really wants to be "parenting practice"? This is all the more reason I am childfree. It's not because I hate kids. I don't.

Another reason is that when I see kids behave like little tyrants, I feel the urge to hit them. This is just unacceptable. I don't care if it's "good parenting" to hit kids, it's still a dealbreaker that will prevent me from having one. Childbirth is a declaration of war. I have enough self-control that I wouldn't act on the urge to hit them, but I won't allow that war to break out in the first place. What a nightmare.

John Scalzi | November 21, 2005 12:53 PM

Matt Arnold:

"Therefore, having a kid means you're going to screw up for sure."

Well, I don't know that I would go that far. Being a new parent means it's all new; it doesn't mean you're destined to royally screw up your kid. If I may say so, we've only got the one child, and so far she's not a bad kid; a touch on the sarcastic side, perhaps, but then, that's not at all surprising. Anyway, in this respect parenting is like anything; you get out what you put in. Throw your hands up and give up on your kid, and you're going to get a monster. Do the work to try to raise a decent human being, and you may just get a decent human being (not to mention the fact you may also become slightly more decent of a human yourself).

Karl | November 21, 2005 01:16 PM

Childbirth is a declaration of war.

It certainly doesn't have to be. I've got a great relationship with my 3 kids. Yeah, there are power struggles. The key is to nail those power struggles early, before they develop into something nasty, and to show them how good it feels to be in a relationship of mutual respect. My kids would (I'm presuming) respond like the enemy if I were to treat them like the enemy. They respond like caring and intelligent human beings when I treat them like caring and intelligent human beings.

mythago | November 21, 2005 01:35 PM

The problem is that his parents (certainly his mother, to whom he is speaking) clearly don't have a clue

Or worse. I don't know about this particular family, but one very common reason a little boy treats Mommy that way is that Daddy treats Mommy that way. (Everybody still feel like Mommy needs a good beating? Daddy might already have that covered for you.)

Childbirth is a declaration of war.

Look, if you have the urge to hit people who behave in ways you don't like, and think that it is natural to be "at war" with those over whom you have authority, then you really have issues that need to be dealt with in ways other than refraining from spawining.

Karl | November 21, 2005 01:59 PM

I think that Matt Arnold has given some good reasons for not spawning if that's what he wants. It doesn't have to be that way but it's his life. If someone doesn't want to go through the effort of raising kids or feels that it would be a declaration of war then it's probably good that they don't bow to sociological pressure to have kids. I don't think that he should be made to feel ashamed for thinking or feeling that way. Those are his thoughts and feelings.

At the same time, one person's aversion to kid conflict can't reasonably be extrapolated to say that it's going to be awful for everyone. Kids aren't easy for anyone but it can still be a rewarding experience for everyone involved. It's a risk. The results aren't guarranteed but I feel optimistic that everything will work out well.

Besides, having kids isn't about what I can get out of them. They aren't a product that I am working on in hope that they will "turn out okay" and extend my legacy on earth. My kids are human beings that I live with and love. I am glad to be a part of the lives of these special people.

mythago | November 21, 2005 02:36 PM

I don't think that he should be made to feel ashamed for thinking or feeling that way. Those are his thoughts and feelings.

Actually, those are his words that he posted on a discussion blog.

I'm all for people who don't want to have kids not having them. Frankly, I wish more people who didn't like kids and didn't want to be parents didn't become parents anyway.

DuQuesne | November 21, 2005 02:46 PM

Someday, in the not-too-distant future, this youngster will have forgotten all about this portion of his childhood and will be in some very public circumstance - perhaps delivering a speech to a large and partly electronically-present audience. Just as he pauses for dramatic effect, someone who remembers him from 'the old days' will -perhaps vindictively- insert the best part of this 'performance' into his audio track - or maybe put it up on whatever passes for a jumbo-tron at that time.

On the other hand, the whole sequence may just find its way to the Washington Post when he's running for re-election....

For every nasty little outburst this kid can manage, somebody else will turn out to be nastier - that'll be his real payback, and it will come long after he can benefit from it.

Courtney | November 21, 2005 02:52 PM

As someone who does not yet have a child, it often becomes dicey talking about any child's behavior and the circumstances that may have led to it, simply because I DON'T KNOW what it is like to have a two-year-old shrieking at me, or a five-year-old who refuses to go to bed. It is easy to watch those Nanny television shows and think how my children could never act that way, but who knows.

So my childless friends and I have now resorted to prefacing any criticism of parents or children with, "Based on my wealth of experience as a dog owner..." and hope that people with children can recognize that, yes, we know it is ridiculous for someone with no kids to make blanket statements about parenting and how to do it right.

That said, the kid is awful.

You know, based on my experience as a dog owner.

Matt Arnold | November 21, 2005 03:23 PM

Look, if you have the urge to hit people who behave in ways you don't like, and think that it is natural to be "at war" with those over whom you have authority, then you really have issues that need to be dealt with in ways other than refraining from spawining.

I definitely don't feel the urge to bring pain to anyone behaving in ways I don't like. Only to mindlessly destructive fanged animals who are outside the social contract and would be willing to blow up the world just to have a tantrum. When you're walking through a grocery store and you see a child screaming for a toy, that's the kind of psychopath you are looking at. (Fortunately kids don't have the power to do so, and of course most kids don't act like that anyway.) Hey, keep in mind that I am very good at controlling my urges. We all are. I'm no different from anyone else in that respect.

I try as hard as I can to avoid authority/subordinate relationships, as a matter of principle. I admit they're often a necessary evil, but it's still an awful situation. Come on; if it weren't for conflict, such relationships wouldn't have to exist.

Dean | November 21, 2005 03:34 PM

Or worse. I don't know about this particular family, but one very common reason a little boy treats Mommy that way is that Daddy treats Mommy that way.

Well, you know as much as the rest of us know, which is that the mother, at least, allows the child to treat her this way.

I don't see why you have to try to make this the father's fault. There's no evidence that he's even around.

WizarDru | November 21, 2005 03:45 PM

Courtney, as long as you don't actually equate being a pet owner with being a caretaker to a human child, spot on. I've met lots of childless people who seem to think that dog or cat ownership is the equivalent to raising a human child, which is so far off-base as to be delusional.

Mythago: I commented on the mother's poor parenting skills because they were on display. The father is hardly free from blame...he's an accomplice, no doubt. But his poor skills weren't on display on that video, so no comment was made. I have a daughter with OPD/ADHD and a son with Asperger's Syndrome...but that doesn't mean I allow that kind of behavior. The Xbox should never have had that game. The Mother should never have brooked those kind of comments and the Xbox should have gone off IMMEDIATELY. Discipline does not have to include physical violence, as Matt appears to think. It simply requires setting boundaries. As John points out, you get out of the process what you put into it....and this mother wasn't putting much in, as you heard.

mythago | November 21, 2005 03:58 PM

But his poor skills weren't on display on that video, so no comment was made

Oh, c'mon. You extrapolated from the mother's behavior on the video to *her* poor parenting. Why not the dad's? Because you didn't see him so it didn't occur to you he had one?

I don't allow that kind of behavior, either, and I don't think it should be excused (much less that developmental disorders make it A-OK to let your kid play certain video games). I was commenting on the folks who are sure that THEIR kids would NEVER do anything like that, and if they did, why, it's because the bad mommy failed to knock the child into next week.

Matt Arnold | November 21, 2005 04:06 PM

Discipline does not have to include physical violence, as Matt appears to think. It simply requires setting boundaries.

No, I agree with you. You understand the correct way to discipline; a distinction I learned early in life and with much negative example.

The urge of my darker side isn't for discipline, the urge is to inflict pain as a form of revenge on my enemies. It's like the urge to eat an expensive ice-cream sundae when you know you really shouldn't, so you don't. I am perfectly capable of being a rational person, being polite to people who I would rather spit on, practicing kindness when I'd rather be lazy, watching my diet, spending less money than I earn, refraining sticking my naughty bits into every woman I see, and other ways to resist urges. In fact, I am consistent in doing so. So it appears I have been misconstrued.

Jaye | November 21, 2005 04:16 PM

Of course it bears mentioning that there is a huge world of difference between a two year old's developmentally appropriate (albeit it annoying & embarassing) kicking & screaming "I hate you" meltdown and a kid who tells his mother that its "bullshit" that you won't bring me some "mother fucking chocolate milk" (to paraphrase).

HUUUUUUGE world of difference.

Then again, I'm not a parent :)

mythago | November 21, 2005 04:35 PM

and a kid who tells his mother that its "bullshit" that you won't bring me some "mother fucking chocolate milk"

Gotta wonder where he learned that. Somehow I'm not thinking it was from playing SOCOM.

Donna | November 21, 2005 04:38 PM

Mythago:

You extrapolated from the mother's behavior on the video to *her* poor parenting

Well, that seems fair to me--*she's* the one handling the situation at that moment in time. Dad is not there--he's either completely out of the picture, down at the local bar having a few, working the night shift, off doing charity work, or dead or something. Either that or he lets his kid talk to his mother that way because he can't be bothered to turn off whatever it is he's watching on the tube and look to see why his 9 year old is cursing out his mother and why they're having a slanging match that would make a couple of fishwives proud. I am not saying that Dad, if he exists, isn't equally to blame. Parenting should be a team sport. But the three minutes of time captured on the video belong to Mom alone as far as the evidence shows, and I can think of at least two ways she could have dealt with that, neither of which involve murder. That would be way number three, and not really acceptable.

When you're walking through a grocery store and you see a child screaming for a toy, that's the kind of psychopath you are looking at.

Matt: if that's a 2 year old screaming for a toy, that's not psychopathic behavior. That's a 2 year old who hasn't learned to control all those emotions that he or she has suddenly found overwhelming. Now if it's a 9 year old, that's different, because a 9 year old, barring special needs, having a public fit is inappropriate. But again, it's about boundries and limits. Like I said and John and others have reiterated, the effort you put into raising your children causes the final product. If you set the limits early on, your 9 year won't act like that in public. And he won't call you a bitch because you won't get him some chocolate milk either.

Torvo | November 21, 2005 04:40 PM

I don't have children. I don't want children. I can't have children. And besides all that, I know myself well enough to know I'd be a bad parent if, for some reason, I was responsible for children.

That said, I'll keep any opinion of the video to myself. Among you who are parents, I have no like experience. Among you who aren't parents but think you are god's gift to enlightened parenting, I offer you this observation: STFU and go back to complaining about crying babies in restaurants.

Matt Arnold | November 21, 2005 04:55 PM

Matt: if that's a 2 year old screaming for a toy, that's not psychopathic behavior. That's a 2 year old who hasn't learned to control all those emotions that he or she has suddenly found overwhelming. Now if it's a 9 year old, that's different, because a 9 year old, barring special needs, having a public fit is inappropriate.

Do you think adult sociopaths have learned to control their emotions? The inability to control emotions is exactly what I'm accusing children of. Adult sociopaths just failed to grow out of the natural egotistical state that humans start out with, and when they throw public fits they are old enough to have guns and bombs and money. Yes, we expect people to grow out of it, but just because infants haven't had time to grow out of it yet doesn't make them somehow not sociopaths.

John Scalzi | November 21, 2005 05:01 PM

Matt, the word "sociopath" implies extremely abnormal behavior. A 2-year-old with an inability to control his emotions is not abnormal -- he's a two-year-old, and he's tracking normally on the development arc for human beings. Let's not have definition creep here just because we're uncomfortable with how toddlers behave.

Uncle John | November 21, 2005 05:03 PM

Torvo:

Whoa, dude. Relax. I'm not planning on having kids, and this is something me and my SO have agreed on. But it's OK I know we would be decent enough parents. It really is not all that hard. Tiring maybe. Exasperating at times. But not difficult to figure out and make a reasonable attempt at.

Being blessed with a sprog does not immediately imbue one with godlike abilities of child-rearing. Obviously, this video is about 9 years of *neglect* (and letting your child freak out like this is neglect -- this is not the result of some single parental mistake) the level of which most parents would never inflict on their children.

Parenting is, of course, a learning experience. I choose not to learn some of the things parents learn, first-hand. But anyone with a brain can make a pretty good guesses about the right things to do while helping a child mature. Anyone with a brain is probably smart enough to know that a few mistakes will not be the end of the world.

[rant] And yes, under the right circumstances, I will bitch about inappropriate parenting behaviour. Taking your two 3-to-5 year-olds to see the latest Wallace and Gromit movie at, oh, 1 million hours past their normal bedtime is STUPID. Did you expect them to actually site and watch the film? The movie is for *adults*, dimwit. [/rant]

Karl | November 21, 2005 05:04 PM

Since the label of sociopath refers to a disorder...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder

...it is not fair to label children as sociopaths.

Karl | November 21, 2005 05:06 PM

cross-post

Matt Arnold | November 21, 2005 05:09 PM

I am telling you what I am not willing to accept, and making an argument that people should not be considered bad when they don't accept being treated with antisocial behavior just because it's normal. Other people's normal development arcs should not be the public's problem. I treat people politely when they treat me politely, no matter the age. I shun them when they treat me badly, no matter the age. Somehow because antisocial behavior is normal from those who are inexperienced at life, we're supposed to accept it and "it takes a village to raise a child."

Karl | November 21, 2005 05:25 PM

Look Matt, if it happens that you're occasionally inflicted with the awareness of a screaming kid, it's not because the parent wants it. This isn't a grownup only universe. Deal with it.

John Scalzi | November 21, 2005 05:32 PM

Matt Arnold:

"Other people's normal development arcs should not be the public's problem."

That's idiotic, Matt. Parents certainly do need to make sure their kids are as well behaved as possible, and should take steps when they are not well behaved. However, it's not entirely out of line for people to understand that two-year-old are not, in fact, little adults, and adjust their expectations accordingly. That is, unless we wish to suggest that children should not be allowed in public until they are legal adults, which would, of course, simply mean we'd have adults who have no idea how to behave in public.

Matt Arnold | November 21, 2005 05:37 PM

Nope, I decline to just deal with it. I've drawn a line in the sand. Think of all the kids whose parents had children deliberately. If the parent didn't want to be saddled with a screaming monster, she should have thought of that before deliberately choosing to have kids. If friends with misbehaving kids bid me farewell, good riddance to them. I'll take the tack of this guy:

http://www.detnews.com/2005/lifestyle/0511/20/A23-387307.htm

Excellent. Restaurants that do that will have my business. I support efforts to provide legal defense funds for business owners being sued by parents for providing child rules or child free sections. I will pay cash money to such a fund.

John Scalzi | November 21, 2005 05:42 PM

Matt Arnold:

"Nope, I decline to just deal with it."

Don't expect much sympathy, then, because you model your world based on unrealistic expectations.

PeterP | November 21, 2005 05:46 PM

Matt Arnold:

"Nope, I decline to just deal with it."

Theres a word for sticking your fingers in your ears and screaming "Blah blah blah I can't hear you!!".

What is it?

Oh yes. Childish.

mythago | November 21, 2005 05:54 PM

Adult sociopaths just failed to grow out of the natural egotistical state that humans start out with

Matt, this is flatly untrue. Complain about crying toddlers if you wish, but your knowledge of adult human psychopathology and your knowledge of developmental stages both appear to be zero.

In fact, sociopaths are most likely to have had childhoods where their parents used severe corporal punishment, smashed their toys to show them who's boss, and treated childbirth as the opening volley in an act of war. Sociopathy is not a result of failing to get your crying baby out of McDonald's fast enough.

MattArnold | November 21, 2005 06:16 PM

Don't expect much sympathy, then, because you model your world based on unrealistic expectations.

I've already acheived it.

Theres a word for sticking your fingers in your ears and screaming "Blah blah blah I can't hear you!!".

Nothing that I did resembles this. I refuse to be your kids punching bag, that's all. What I mean by "I won't just deal with it" is that I can act to prevent and change it. And I do. I've already removed this kind of abuse from my life that you want me to just deal with. All I'm doing now is pointing out to parents with a sick sense of entitlement that we are not obligated to be their kids punching bags.

Rachel, my signifigant other, used to come home from her job in a day care covered with bruises from kids literally throwing chairs at her. "Developmentally appropriate abuse."

You are the hurters, the abusers. You are sick and wrong for hurting and abusing people and expecting them to just take it. How dare you?

Sue | November 21, 2005 06:21 PM

I do not have children. I do not want children. I like kids, but I am fully aware of the awesome responsibility involved in raising a child successfully and it's one I'm really not interested in taking on.

That said, I don't think it's unreasonable for me to be able to point to a certain set of actions being performed by a child and say, "That kid is behaving inappropriately for this setting." Furthermore, I don't think it's unreasonable for me to see the kid's parent ignoring the inappropriate behavior and think, "That parent needs to be doing a better job of raising their child. I also don't think it's unreasonable for me to say that the mother in the video was doing a poor job of disciplining her child and that she has apparently not taken much interest in her child's activities. If she was taking interest in his activities, he wouldn't have been playing a game when she didn't want him to be doing so and he wouldn't have been playing such a violent game. If she disciplined him in a productive manner, he wouldn't be speaking to her the way he does in the video.

Just because I don't have any apple trees doesn't mean I can't tell when an apple is rotten.

I don't hate kids. I don't hate bad parents. I hate bad parenting.

mythago | November 21, 2005 06:26 PM

I also don't think it's unreasonable for me to say that the mother in the video was doing a poor job of disciplining her child and that she has apparently not taken much interest in her child's activities

See previous comments re: daddies.

There's a difference between saying "This apple has a bad spot" and "This apple obviously couldn't have been stored at the proper temperature. The woman who put this apple in the apple bin clearly is a poor excuse for an apple grower. If it were MY apple tree, none of my apples would ever be rotten like that one."

John Scalzi | November 21, 2005 06:33 PM

Matt Arnold:

"You are the hurters, the abusers. You are sick and wrong for hurting and abusing people and expecting them to just take it. How dare you?"

Get a grip, Matt.

A parent taking their child out in public does not mean they are abusing you, as long as the child is reasonably behaved and the parent is reasonably vigilant. It's pretty clear your standards of acceptable child behavior are somewhat skewed. You are of course welcome to them, but I don't think you should expect that most conscientious parents will feel they need be bound by them.

If my kid threw a chair at anyone, she would be in immense trouble. And she knows it.

This thread is getting sillier as it goes along.

MattArnold | November 21, 2005 06:41 PM

Matt, this is flatly untrue. Complain about crying toddlers if you wish, but your knowledge of adult human psychopathology and your knowledge of developmental stages both appear to be zero.
Sorry. You may strike my armchair psychology from your mental record if you wish. I retract it.

Good comments, Sue. The only place where you let them get at you is when you talk about "bad parenting." It's best to leave that part alone. That's taking other people's responsibility on yourself. Just say you don't hate kids, you just hate bad kids. They chose to take a genetic/environmental gamble by having kids, they happen to have a bad one for whatever random reason that nobody could have prevented except with a condom, and now they have to live with the consequences and keep it from getting on you and me. It's best to leave parenting out of it because otherwise you'll only sabotage anything you say.

MattArnold | November 21, 2005 06:55 PM

as the child is reasonably behaved and the parent is reasonably vigilant.

Aha! My standards aren't so unrealistic. No different from yours, in all likelihood. This is all I was talking about.

The misconception probably came from my speculation as to whether or not an enfant terrible is, deep down inside, a being of stark evil... well I don't really care. The only reason I even brought that up and caused this furor was that it explains my subconscious impulse to paddle the kid or to grab the muscle between the neck and shoulder and pinch as hard as I can. But since I don't do that anyway, it's moot. The bottom line is, we agree children should stop attacking random strangers and vandalizing things as I so frequently see them do.

Eric Berlin | November 21, 2005 07:11 PM

Just to stick in a completely different opinion -- the first two commenters on my own blog thought the whole thing is a fake. (I don't think so, myself.)

claire | November 21, 2005 07:18 PM

whoa! whoa! touchy subject here! lemme just say that matt arnold is of course wrong in his expectations of 2 year olds, but not entirely wrong. you have to expect some screaming from a 2yr old. HOWEVER, you also SHOULD be able to expect that when a 2 yr old won't stop screaming, its parents will immediately take it outside where it won't bother anyone. this is also part of good parenting, because being taken outside is a precursor to a serious scolding and is effective in setting boundaries for children too young to be reasoned with.

i just read matt arnold's article about cafes and you folks are arguing from different types of cafes, so to speak. i'm a childless writer who works largely in cafes, and i resent like hell when someone brings a screaming child into a cafe where i'm working. HOWEVER, there are many cafes around my neighborhood that have a set of small tables and chairs and a toy box. i DON'T GO WORK THERE, because those cafes are clearly there for children. i go to the cafes where there's free wireless, no toys, and no ice cream. cafes for adults. i expect the parents to respect my space, the adult cafes, in the same way that i respect their space, the cafes for families.

there IS an entitlement issue here. previous to the baby boomer generation, children under the age of 8 or 10 simply did not go out to restaurants. parents left them at home with baby sitters if the parents were to go out. nowadays, with single parenthood increasing and working parents and two-income families, and the breakdown of traditional family structure, parents, especially mothers, find it more restrictive to have to stay at home or pay for a baby-sitter. they also don't live in traditional neighborhoods where their neighbors, who will frown on them and ostracize them if their children make a racket in public, are their primary social scene.

basically todays parents CAN take kids out so they think that means they are ENTITLED to. i think the rule should be that you take your kids out only insofar as there are businesses in your neighborhood to cater to families. don't bother childless people in adult cafes, or even parents who are in a cafe getting away from their kids.

claire | November 21, 2005 07:39 PM

oh yeah, and i feel perfectly comfortable talking about other people's bad parenting even though i don't have children.

i spent large chunks of my college years being paid (very poorly) to substitute parent the children of people who didn't know how to do it properly. yes, i worked day care. and yes, i can say that many of these parents didn't know how because one third of one center's clientele where i worke was kids put there by child protective services, who order parents to put their kids in daycare for a set number of hours a day in an effort to give the parents some relief.

for several miserable months (before i quit and moved to a more high-end daycare with kids whose parents were okay-er) i spent 12-hour days with 17 2-yr-olds, some of whom were there when i arrived and were still there when i left. yes, 2-yr-olds scream and cry. you know what shuts 'em up? good parenting. being picked up and held, or being taken outside and scolded, or being put into time out until they are calm again.

somebody mentioned "it takes a village to raise a child" very sarcastically. let me repeat that without the sarcasm. parents these days are very defensive because traditional "village" or neighborhood structure (where mrs so-and-so across the street will watch your kid play stickball out her window and tell you if he was the one who broke mr. such-and-such's window) is gone. strangers who don't take any responsibility for protecting or overseeing a child want to have a say in how to discipline it.

but the other side is also true: that parents won't permit ANYONE to have ANY say over how they raise their children. you can't get help without giving up some privilege. where do you draw the line? when, in public, your child is intruding upon someone else's ear or eye space, then you're suddenly in the village. and yes, it IS possible to quiet that 2-yr-old. i could do it faster than many parents. i know because i HAVE done it, with many other people's kids.

Jim Winter | November 21, 2005 08:04 PM

Were the child's name Winter:

1.) Xbox destroyed in front of the kid.
2.) Off to military school the next day.
3.) Never allowed to drink chocolate milk or Mountain Dew under my roof again.
4.) Can have a new set of teeth as soon as he apologizes to mother and convinces me he's sincere.

John Scalzi | November 21, 2005 08:11 PM

Claire:

"HOWEVER, you also SHOULD be able to expect that when a 2 yr old won't stop screaming, its parents will immediately take it outside where it won't bother anyone."

Yup.

Bob | November 21, 2005 08:12 PM

Watching the clip makes me feel so old and out of touch. How is it that the XBox wasn't turned into little shards of circuit board and plastic about halfway through?

Sara Benson | November 21, 2005 08:19 PM

Re: "Courtney, as long as you don't actually equate being a pet owner with being a caretaker to a human child, spot on. I've met lots of childless people who seem to think that dog or cat ownership is the equivalent to raising a human child, which is so far off-base as to be delusional."

You know, I became a parent late in life and before that, I just had pets. And while there are obvious differences between the two circumstances there are a lot of similarities too. Like, I am a little more apt to let the dog get away with being a pest because I dont have to worry about the dog growing up and leaving the house with bad habits. And of course, I love the kid more than I ever thought possible but I still love the dog in a similar, if less intense way. Anyways, I struggled a lot with infertility and I always felt that when people made comments like "you act like your dog is your kid but if you had a kid you would know that being responsible for a dog is nothing like being responsible for a kid" that they were kind of rubbing my nose in my childlessness. And then, imagine my surprise when I found out that being responsible for a dog was kind of like being responsible for a kid in a lot of ways.

Martin Wagner | November 21, 2005 08:32 PM

I must say that for the most part, I'm down with a lot of what Matt Arnold has been saying. I do see an undeserved sense of entitlement on the part of many parents who have small children. Or, as one of my old cartooning friends put it, when someone has their first child, they go from being liberals to being fascists in one fell swoop. It's as if, "I have kids, and that supercedes all of your rights."

What I wish more parents would realize is that the choice to have children is more of a life-changing one for them than they'd perhaps like it to be. A couple I knew had a baby a few years ago, and after it had been born, there were some awkward evenings when our group of friends would meet someplace out for dinner as was our common practice. And they'd bring the baby. And inevitably, the baby would start to scream his goddamn head off and we'd have to endure dirty looks from every other table in the place. One of them, aware of the awkwardness perhaps, told me later, "But it's not like you want to stop going to restaurants!" Sorry, dude. That's like a guy about to get married saying, "But I still wanna go out to titty bars every night!" Certain choices in life involve sacrifices. Deal.

Ah, a lifelong childless bachelor me! Truer happiness cannot be!

Laura | November 21, 2005 09:00 PM

Late to the party as usual, but I had to add my $.02. All I can say is that if that had been me, at nine years old, no more than two syllables would have escaped my lips before one parent or the other would have come into the room, unplugged the game and the television, removed them to a locked area, and prevented me from using both for a very long time.

Oh, but that's not so today. Today, we must be concerned with the child's self-esteem. When we scold our children, we're humiliating them and giving them a poor self-image, and we can't have that, because then when they're sixteen, they'll take guns to school and they won't be the perfect little angels that they are today.

=end sarcasm=

Thanks for the link.

Karl | November 21, 2005 09:46 PM

Sheesh, this discussion seems so polarized. Either ban kids from all public places or allow every brat to scream their head off anywhere they like. Both of these extremes are not reasonable. I don't think that any of us kid rearing parents are advocating to bring our youngest into a fine restaurant and letting them scream. Neither is it reasonable to consider all parents with kids to stay home every night unless they afford a babysitter.

And, there certainly are parents with screaming kids that should get them out of there. I let my kids scream as much as they like in the van (or their room) by themselves until they get themselves under control. For them, screaming is a sure way for them not to get their way.

If it's a family restaurant, don't expect it to be free of kid sounds. If it's a fine restaurant, only bring your kid if you can manage to keep them quiet. Obviously, there are lots of restaurants somewhere in the middle, where we'll disagree, but surely there are some things that we can agree on.

mythago | November 21, 2005 10:05 PM

or allow every brat to scream their head off anywhere they like

Sorry, missed those comments.

they happen to have a bad one

This is another place this discussion is getting weird. A child who behaves badly is a Bad Kid, irredeemable, spoiled, likely to grow up to become a sociopath, and so on. John's sensibly pointed out that kids act imperfectly and parents have a responsibility to deal with that productively is, well, I guess it's not as much fun as talking about chair-throwers, eh?

I also get the impression that some of y'all are forgetting that we parents don't, in fact, spend 100% of time with our kids. We, too, go to the occasional restaurant or café sans offspring. You think it's bad to listen to a toddler screaming? Imagine if you're at the café because you just spent the last four hours with your own.

Don't even get me started on the Dog People.

Laura | November 21, 2005 10:28 PM

My child, at almost four years old, says "fu*k" and he certainly did not learn it from me! He could potentially be in 1 of 4 homes (mommy's house, daddy's house, the dayhome with other children, and grandpa & grandma's house). He fully understands that if he says it in front of me, he is in deep shit. He doesn't quite know what it means, but he understands that I mean it when I threaten something, and then he takes pains to correct his behaviour BEFORE the priviledge is removed.

I'm just giving the example that both parents work fulltime, and they are in completely different households. I am fully aware that I cannot know everything about my child. I can only foster a decent and loving relationship with him.

The 9 year old child in the video runs his household. This can only end badly.

My $0.02.

Martin Wagner | November 21, 2005 10:50 PM

Neither is it reasonable to consider all parents with kids to stay home every night unless they afford a babysitter.

Unless you're going to Chucky Cheese or one of those McDonalds with the play areas, I think it's entirely reasonable. Choices involve sacrifices. Choose to have small children=live with the fact you aren't going to be as free as you were when you were single and partying.

Don't even get me started on assholes who take their toddlers into R-rated movies!

You think it's bad to listen to a toddler screaming? Imagine if you're at the café because you just spent the last four hours with your own.

Your pain is truly horrible to contemplate. My observations of other parents of toddlers tells me something different about their lives.

You know how toddlers are: if they aren't the center of the universe and their every desire isn't met instantaneously, then it's time to crank the sirens up to 11. Screaming, whining, and all sorts of carrying are S.O.P. And while I've seen a few parents in public put a stop to this in decisive fashion, more often I've seen something else. "The silent treatment."

Parents of toddlers, I think in order to stay sane, develop internal mental filters that allow them to just block out the sound of their own children's tantrums. The thinking seems to go: "I'll just ignore their histrionics, and eventually they'll realize that this kind of behavior won't get them what they want."

The problem is that, when parents brilliantly apply this theorem in public, they don't realize that the rest of the world hasn't installed the filters they commonly use to drown out their own child's noise. So I see endless situations in public where I'm at, say, a Borders Books, and there's a child screaming as if it's being murdered because it's not getting what it wants, and mom is standing two feet away calmly leafing through a magazine as if nothing were going on at all, while everyone else in the store is staring daggers, knives, and possibly a few white phosphorous bombs in their direction.

Being in public is a two way street. Parents can't expect everyone else to cut them undue slack because they're saddled with annoying kids. They should respect other people's peace as well.

John Scalzi | November 21, 2005 11:06 PM

Martin Wagner:

"A couple I knew had a baby a few years ago, and after it had been born, there were some awkward evenings when our group of friends would meet someplace out for dinner as was our common practice. And they'd bring the baby. And inevitably, the baby would start to scream his goddamn head off and we'd have to endure dirty looks from every other table in the place. One of them, aware of the awkwardness perhaps, told me later, 'But it's not like you want to stop going to restaurants!'"

We solved this particular problem by having one of us go out while the other stayed at home with Athena. Simple. People forget that you can do things as individuals once you are in a couple (or have kids).

darren | November 21, 2005 11:11 PM

"My child, at almost four years old, says "fu*k" and he certainly did not learn it from me!....He fully understands that if he says it in front of me, he is in deep shit."

Anyone else come to the same conclusion concerning irony in these sentences and thier context as I did?

Karl | November 21, 2005 11:20 PM

Unless you're going to Chucky Cheese or one of those McDonalds with the play areas, I think it's entirely reasonable. Choices involve sacrifices.

It's clear that a restaurant is kid-friendly when they bring out high chairs, crayons, and paper placemats. That's clear enough to me. There are more options than just McD's and Chucky Cheeze.

Phillip J. Birmingham | November 21, 2005 11:28 PM

So I see endless situations in public where I'm at, say, a Borders Books, and there's a child screaming as if it's being murdered because it's not getting what it wants, and mom is standing two feet away calmly leafing through a magazine as if nothing were going on at all, while everyone else in the store is staring daggers, knives, and possibly a few white phosphorous bombs in their direction.

The problem isn't children, then -- it's asshole parents.

My wife and I try very hard to guage our toddler's mood, so as to avoid outbursts like this in public (he's still learning how to act in public.) We've had to eat in shifts before because we misjudged. We've seen that as one of the sacrifices that come with our choice to have children, and if we haven't always been exactly cheerful about it, at least we've tried to remember how we felt when other parents didn't do the same.

Reading what you are writing here, though, I'm thinking of getting him a bullhorn for his second birthday, and moving to Austin. The only thing holding me back is that you make Austin sound like something of a hellhole.

At least you don't live wherever Matt Arnold lives. Those roving toddler gangs sound mean.

Karl | November 21, 2005 11:45 PM

The problem isn't children, then -- it's asshole parents.

My wife and I try very hard to guage our toddler's mood, so as to avoid outbursts like this in public (he's still learning how to act in public.) We've had to eat in shifts before because we misjudged. We've seen that as one of the sacrifices that come with our choice to have children, and if we haven't always been exactly cheerful about it, at least we've tried to remember how we felt when other parents didn't do the same.

Exactly. Be sensitive about the situation and deal with problems quickly.

mythago | November 22, 2005 12:22 AM

Parents of toddlers, I think in order to stay sane, develop internal mental filters that allow them to just block out the sound of their own children's tantrums. The thinking seems to go: "I'll just ignore their histrionics, and eventually they'll realize that this kind of behavior won't get them what they want."

Uh, no. Those parents leafing through the magazines aren't attempting a disciplinary technique; they just want to read the magazine/drink their latte/whatever, and they aren't particularly interested in whether your own magazine-reading or latte-sipping is thereby adversely affected.

This is the same person who, if childfree, will let his dogs jump up on you with muddy paws ("Don't worry, he's friendly!"), or will swerve into your lane because he's chatting on his cellphone--selfcentered jerks abound, fertile or no.

By the way, when it comes to restaurants, you'd be amazed at how many of them will flat-out lie about being "family friendly". I can't count the number of times we've called ahead to an unknown restaurant, been told "oh, little kids are no problem," and walked in to find a grownup restaurant with glass things on the table. (We walk out.)

Martin Wagner | November 22, 2005 12:47 AM

We solved this particular problem by having one of us go out while the other stayed at home with Athena. Simple. People forget that you can do things as individuals once you are in a couple (or have kids).

Right...because you guys are sensible parents!

Martin Wagner | November 22, 2005 12:57 AM

Uh, no. Those parents leafing through the magazines aren't attempting a disciplinary technique; they just want to read the magazine/drink their latte/whatever, and they aren't particularly interested in whether your own magazine-reading or latte-sipping is thereby adversely affected.

Then they're even bigger insensitive assholes than what I described! To take the attitude of "every public place is my child's free go-completely-ape-bonkers arena, and anyone who doesn't like it can lump it" takes selfishness to new depths of cretinousness. Those kinds of parents need to know, we don't have your filters! Or maybe they just need spankings.

I think the gist of your commentary, which I'd heartily agree with, is "selfish assholes shouldn't breed."

The only thing holding me back is that you make Austin sound like something of a hellhole.

What, just because I hear babies and toddlers carry on in public? This happens everywhere in the country. Or, perhaps never at all where you live, in which case, send me real estate listings at once!

claire | November 22, 2005 01:34 AM

wow, scalzi, you really hit a nerve with this one!

John Scalzi | November 22, 2005 01:52 AM

Well, shucks. One does try.

claire | November 22, 2005 05:41 AM

okay, not to start any screaming fights, but i have a question here.

a while ago i was invited to a night time potluck for adults. one couple was bringing their toddler, with the host's permission -- not a family party, though. he was the only child there. they passed a request through the host that because their toddler was still at that age where he might be allergic to nuts, they requested that no one coming to the party bring any dishes with nuts or nut oil in them. the kid would be running around and might get into food which might cause an allergic reaction.

i found this an appalling request on a number of levels, but i want to hear what you guys think.

John Scalzi | November 22, 2005 07:38 AM

On one hand nut allergies are very serious and can kill people (I have a friend who carries around an epi full of adrenalin because of it). One the other hand, it's kind of annoying to have to dance around it for just one person. But on the third hand, if the host had made the request without explaining that it was for a kid, would it have been seen as an issue?

Leslie | November 22, 2005 08:19 AM

Leaving aside the question of whether you think the toddler should have been invited (and if it was ok with the hosts I don't think it's your worry) nut allergies are more often dire than not. One of my kids goes to a school that is entirely nut-free. Yes, the school, not just a table in the cafeteria. That's because somebody there has an allergy severe enough that a few molecules of peanuts would be enough to give them an anaphlactic reaction.

For those of you who seem to think that all kids in public are toxic, imagine living your life knowing that a few molecules of something could kill you.

I don't think anyone who has posted here thinks that children should be permitted to behave horribly in public but there does seem to be a disconnect between rationality and a desire for peace and quiet. Little kids will lose it from time to time, no matter where they are. Condemning them and their parents for this, rather than for not dealing with the problem is just clueless.

We eat out with our kids all the time. Now they're not little - they're 10, 13 and 16 and they behave in a perfectly civilized manner but they didn't learn to behave in restaurants by never going to restaurants. Mind you, we didn't take them to elegant expensive places when they were little and we still don't since dinner for five is expensive. The assumption that because some people are lazy parents all kids in public are evil and undesirable obviously annoys me. If one made that claim about any other group as a whole one would be called a bigot. /end rant

MinstrelOfFunk | November 22, 2005 08:31 AM

It's funny, my 2-year old just had a public screaming fit this weekend. My wife and I took the kids to the Franklin Institute and just as we entered the Hall of Electricity she had a total meltdown. We had to force her into the stroller and haul her off to a quiet corner.

Having grown up in a very big family I always just thought that even the best behaved children have bad days sometimes. However, after reading this thread I wonder if the people at the museum thought my daughter was some kind of demon seed psychopath and that my wife and I were horrible, selfish assholes for daring to leave our home with our children.

Primate | November 22, 2005 08:32 AM

It's the host's call on who to invite. As a guest, you can only decline to attend if you don't like the fellow guests. As for the allergies, being asked not to create an environment that could harm a person is a perfectly reasonable request.

As for ignoring a tantrum-thrower, it should be noted that some children do need to have their tantrum's ignored in order for them to learn to stop throwing tantrums. Children are individuals and respond differently to different parenting strategies. Some tantrum-throwers accept the attention they get from the adult (good or bad) as a perfectly acceptable substitute for not getting what they were screaming about. Admitably, it's probably a technique that should used after other ways have failed, but it is the best solution in some cases. In the meantime, the adult should hopefully think hard about the consequences of trying to apply the technique to a tantrum thrown in public.

Sue | November 22, 2005 09:00 AM

I should think that part of raising a child would be teaching said child that there are certain behvaiors that are acceptable in public places. Part of the way you do that is to whisk a child away from a public setting and inform the child that they're not behaving appropriately. But I think it all has to start at home with an explanation of what's expected and what the consequences are if the child doesn't behave accordingly. I learned from an early age that it was OK to talk in grocery stores but not in church, for instance.

Look, I have a great deal of respect for good parents. I'd never accuse a parent of being a bad parent based on one little tantrum at a restaurant or store. Would I raise an eyebrow over a parent who ignores a child running amok in a store while the parent continues to shop and NEVER looks at the child or attempts to correct the behavior? Absolutely.

One of my friends recently commented that there's fewer people distinguishing between the public and private spheres these days. People have loud conversations on cell phones in public places all the time now. Just last week, I was subjected to hearing a woman talking to what was clearly an ex-husband about who was going to have the kid over Thanksgiving and Christmas. The conversation took place right outside where I was working. I was embarrassed to be hearing it. I can't help but wonder if, at least sometimes, that increasing lack of separation of public and private is what leads to inattentive parenting.

Phillip J. Birmingham | November 22, 2005 09:11 AM

What, just because I hear babies and toddlers carry on in public?

Well, the only place you're never going to hear that is one of these retirement communities that don't allow children so that the residents can avoid paying school taxes. Maybe you could look into one of those. :)

Phillip J. Birmingham | November 22, 2005 10:44 AM

Although one would still have to wonder why mom (and dad -- point taken) think it's wise to let such a child play an "M"-rated game.

One point I want to make -- if my Counter-Strike days are any indication, he's likely learned more of the language and attitude from the other players, than from the game itself. Still, you have something of a point -- my seven-year-old nephew is a bit of a disturbing war-head from playing military FPSs with my stepfather, although it is rather cute to see him hollering "Oh no, six is down" in the style of Operation Flashpoint. He's going to be getting Katamari Damacy from us this Christmas.

Phillip J. Birmingham | November 22, 2005 10:47 AM

1.) Xbox destroyed in front of the kid.

Nope. Three words: "Daddy's XBox Now." Or, alternately: "Goodwill needs donations."

mythago | November 22, 2005 10:59 AM

More words, like "Honey, where did our son learn 'mother fucker'?" and "Who bought him this game?" would be more appropriate, I'd say.

Justin Anderson | November 22, 2005 11:28 AM

Martin sez:

What, just because I hear babies and toddlers carry on in public? This happens everywhere in the country. Or, perhaps never at all where you live, in which case, send me real estate listings at once!

Okay, here ya go: Fairfax, Virginia. Now, I'm not going to claim 'never at all', but I can honestly say I can't remember the last time a screaming child even caused me a moment's discomfort. Here's the thing though -- I wouldn't be surprised to hear that you moved to Austin from Fairfax to get away from all the screaming children.

I've said it before, but it's still true: those who get worked up over this really seem to live on a completely different planet than the one I know. Either your perceptions of the world around you are fundamentally different from mine, or God just hates you. I just don't get it.

Mary | November 22, 2005 11:49 AM

I just checked with God, Dude, I have bad news ...

Matt Arnold | November 22, 2005 11:50 AM

I don't think anyone who has posted here thinks that children should be permitted to behave horribly in public but there does seem to be a disconnect between rationality and a desire for peace and quiet. The assumption that because some people are lazy parents all kids in public are evil and undesirable obviously annoys me.

I haven't heard anybody say this. I see lots of kids behave themselves in public, and they're welcome.

This is another place this discussion is getting weird. A child who behaves badly is a Bad Kid, irredeemable, spoiled, likely to grow up to become a sociopath, and so on.

Nobody said that either. All kids are redeemable. The issue is whether they need to be set right in the first place or should be allowed free reign just because it's natural, normal, and developmentally-appropriate. The delusion that one is the center of the universe is a natural "disorder," that is "cured" by life experience.

John's sensibly pointed out that kids act imperfectly and parents have a responsibility to deal with that productively is, well, I guess it's not as much fun as talking about chair-throwers, eh?

Spoken like a true parent. You imagine, wrongly, that our complaints are intended to acheive the best interests of your child. They are not. You created that problem and you are obligated to fix it with no help or advice from us. Just take it away and come back when it's fixed or don't come back at all. Banning enfants terrible from cafes isn't about being a good parent, it's about being a good customer. It's in the best interests of his patrons, which is his only responsibility.

Martin Wagner wrote:
"But it's not like you want to stop going to restaurants!" Sorry, dude. That's like a guy about to get married saying, "But I still wanna go out to titty bars every night!" Certain choices in life involve sacrifices. Deal.

LOL! Look who has to "deal with it" now! And if parents don't "deal with it", will PeterP call them childish?

Erbo | November 22, 2005 11:55 AM

You know what the scary thing is? I think I've run into this kid while playing Halo 2. (Or, at least, his spiritual cousin.)

On this particular occasion, the kid I was playing against was not only swearing into the microphone, he was doing so in a piercingly loud and shrill voice. (Yes, I could have turned down the headset volume, but then I wouldn't have been able to hear anyone else, that's how loud this kid was.) I keyed on my mic (which I usually leave muted unless I've got something to say) and said, "[kid's GamerTag], cut it out, you're hurting my ear." He kept it up. I repeated my message. He didn't stop. Needless to say, I left a negative feedback for him at game's end, for "screaming," for whatever good it'll do. And, similar to the kid from this video, I wonder what he was doing playing an M-rated game in the first place...

Erbo | November 22, 2005 12:00 PM

And yeah, before someone comments, I could have gone and muted him, but that's not very convenient to do while in-game (you have to hit Start and navigate through about three layers of menus to mute a player), and, while I was fiddling with that, somebody would probably have come along and fragged me. Maybe twice.

Brian Greenberg | November 22, 2005 12:35 PM

Wow...don't logon for one night & miss 100 comments. Sheesh. A few points:

1) My kids are 5 and 2. We go to restaurants all the time. They are well behaved kids, and they know how to act in public places. That being said, they *have* had tantrums in public. When it happens, my wife & I take a minute or two to try and stop it, then one of us evacuates the area with the screaming kid. The kid gets a talking to about how to behave and learns a lesson about what will get you pulled out of a restaurant as opposed to, say, a playground. And yes - I'm aware that some of the adults in that restaurant may be offended by having to endure that minute or two of screaming. And while it's of no consequence to them, their small sacrifice is helping thousands of other adults who may one day *compliment* my kids in a restuarant for being so well-behaved (yes, that happens too).

2) Mythago - I see your point about people assuming the father absorbs none of the blame. Odds are, he's as bad a parent as his wife (girlfriend?) But you seem to be assuming it's *all* the father's fault. Isn't even possible that the mother could be the guilty party here? Could it be that the kid acts that way because that's how mommy yells at daddy?

3) A question for the group that no one's asking (again, disclaimer: I haven't actually seen this video): WHO VIDEOTAPED THIS??? Doesn't that person deserve a good slapping around too? And to a lesser extent, who posted it on the web? What were they trying to accomplish vis a vis this mother/child?

JimW | November 22, 2005 01:03 PM

Brian - the video appears to have been made by one of the kid's teammates in the game. He probably thought it was cool the way the kid told off his mother.

Daniel H. Alvarez | November 22, 2005 01:04 PM

Brian Greenberg wrote: "3) A question for the group that no one's asking (again, disclaimer: I haven't actually seen this video): WHO VIDEOTAPED THIS??? Doesn't that person deserve a good slapping around too? And to a lesser extent, who posted it on the web? What were they trying to accomplish vis a vis this mother/child?"

It looks like it was recorded by one of the other players in the group. Most likely they originally posted it to a game forum under the heading of "Nuclear meltdown during game" or similar. Possibly "Never *ever* play with -- insert name --". I've seen similar in other games (mostly PC MMORPGs).

Generally they get posted because 1) they can be really funny, in a sick sort of way, or 2) as object examples of what *not* to do in a game session.

Phillip J. Birmingham | November 22, 2005 01:43 PM

More words, like "Honey, where did our son learn 'mother fucker'?" and "Who bought him this game?" would be more appropriate, I'd say.

Well, I think I have a good handle on the first -- he was playing on XBox Live, after all. For the second, yeah, that's about right.

PeterP | November 22, 2005 01:58 PM

Matt Arnold

"LOL! Look who has to "deal with it" now! And if parents don't "deal with it", will PeterP call them childish?"

Well, it's like this, Mr. Arnold. I don't particularly like screaming kids, either. Believe me, I have earned my share of nasty looks for asking a parent politely to shut their child up. I still have a cousin or two that is quieter than usual in my presence at family gatherings as a result of a stern talking to and an explanation of the alternatives.

But the reality is, I recognize that there is a such thing as a development process and children don't emerge from the womb perfect little angels. It takes dedicated parenting, and even with that, kids arent always rational. Read some intro developmental psychology, the field abounds with decent literature.

I also believe it is in the best interests of society at large to teach these kids how to behave in public as early as possible, and the only way to do that is indulging the ocasional tantrum, unsavoury as I may find it. It is simply the only way a small child will ever learn to act appropriatley. You may prefer to bitch loudly about how you shouldnt have to be subjected to the indignity of a child in your presence, and thats your right. But its such an ignorant, selfish, small minded worldview that it can only appropriatley be called childish. So the next time some child offends you, do what comes naturally - take your ball and go home.

Matt Arnold | November 22, 2005 02:01 PM

Are you deliberately misreading my comments?

Matt Arnold | November 22, 2005 02:20 PM

The vast majority of emotional conflict in this thread is based on misinterpretation of each other. When I heard PeterP say he doesn't like to be around screaming kids, this came as a great surprise to me and I realized he had previously been represented as a straw man in my mind. When he speaks to me, he speaks only to a similarly ridiculous charicature of me. Neither side knows what behaviors the other is specifically referring to when they talk about acceptable or unacceptable public experiences, or what kind of environment the others are actually suggesting we should have. There is an upper and a lower threshhold to that target environment, and I dare say all of us would agree on it if we saw that threshold exceeded through its upper or its lower bound.

Karl | November 22, 2005 02:33 PM

Agreed.

Steve Eley | November 22, 2005 03:06 PM

Matt, the responses you're now calling "misinterpretations" of your position are because you began your comments with a series of extreme statements: "Childbirth is a declaration of war," your own urges to violence towards children, labeling two-year-olds as psychopaths and sociopaths, declaring that parents whose children act like children should never have had them, and suggesting that parents who bring children into public spaces have committed a direct hostile action against you.

Since then you've backed away from many of those statements and towards a more moderate point of view. This is good. It really is. But the people responding as if you're an extremist haven't been "misinterpreting" you, they're directly responding to what you actually said. If you don't believe your own statements characterize your position, either you've changed your mind since then or you initially expressed yourself badly. Either way, they're your words.

Matt Arnold | November 22, 2005 04:04 PM

My own personal opinion is that having children is an incredibly bad idea, although it's their lives to use as they wish. Childbirth is a declaration of war, because authority relationships aren't necessary if there's no conflict to resolve. Where I come from violence against children is quite common, and although I don't condone it, it's only natural that I should have an ingrained instinct for it. That doesn't excuse me for having the ingrained instinct, and that's the whole point of what I'm saying. It's under control, just as the majority of children have learned to control their ingrained instinct for selfishness. It's natural for a child to be the way he or she is, but that doesn't excuse it either. Natural development stages are a period of being in a less desirable state and getting to a more desirable state. That's a "disorder." I'm not being medical by saying that, I'm not claiming expertise by saying that, I'm not talking about psychology or diagnosis by saying that. I'm saying vicious thugs are bad. I choose to label it sociopathy. Now you're probably going to hear that and think I'm talking about a mildly misbehaving child who is not a terror. I am not now, and never have been, talking about that type of child. Count yourself lucky that you are so clueless as to the experiences I'm talking about.

I stand by all that. Nothing in what I've said indicates that children are never to be taken into the public sphere. My position is merely that when they are seriously disruptive for an extended period of time, so much so that it interferes with the ability of non-volunteers to go about their business (examine my choice of words), it's polite to remove them and incredibly rude to demand that others put up with it. Again, let me hasten to stress that you probably have no earthly idea of the scenario of chaotic temper-tantrum thuggery I'm describing, so please don't think I'm talking about something simple. Even with everything in the first paragraph of this post, that has never been my position. I'm talking about extremism. It's also incredibly rude to ram such extremism down the throats of strangers and have the temerity to get mad when they complain. You may not realize that this mild position --that you and I share-- is actually controversial to some people. You may consider my motives and arguments extremist, but the position ends up the same about kids in public.

Anonymous | November 22, 2005 05:14 PM

Much belated response to Patrick Nielsen Hayden:

"There's a world of assumptions in the idea that anyone is "irrevocably tainted" at the age of nine."

I agree completely - let's look at what I actually wrote.

"The kid may very well be irrevocably tainted at this point, and he's only 9."

I thought that made it pretty clear that we won't actually know if he was/is tainted/whatever you want to call it until we can look at it in retrospect.

Karl | November 22, 2005 05:32 PM

Childbirth is a declaration of war

This statement is a wild and incoherent generalization. There is some conflict involved in raising children but the conflict does not have to be the dominant paradigm.

Matt Arnold | November 22, 2005 06:25 PM

OK Karl, whatever.

Steve Eley | November 22, 2005 06:52 PM

My own personal opinion is that having children is an incredibly bad idea, although it's their lives to use as they wish. Childbirth is a declaration of war, because authority relationships aren't necessary if there's no conflict to resolve.

I'm curious about this, Matt: would you also consider, say, a debate in the comments section of a popular blog a state of 'warfare?' We've got conflict, and there's an authority wielding power here. Are we at war?

As for where you came from and why you might have the perceptual norms you have, I can't speak to any of that. It all sounds a shade melodramatic to me, but then truth often is the strongest hyperbole. I merely suggest that if you're going to start into a conversation with what you admit are extremes, but carry on in the general sense, then you shouldn't be too surprised if people treat it as your general attitude. And if you're going to invent your own personal definitions for things like "disorder" or "sociopath," you shouldn't be too surprised if nobody else clues into what you're talking about.

Cartoon Coyote | November 22, 2005 09:09 PM

Did anybody else think that was Eric Cartman, just for a few seconds?

Brian Greenberg | November 23, 2005 10:00 AM

Some more questions for Matt Arnold:

Natural development stages are a period of being in a less desirable state and getting to a more desirable state. That's a "disorder."

Would you say that a child that hasn't yet learned to read is stupid? He/She is in a less desirable state (illiteracy) and getting to a more desirable state. Is that a disorder?

I am a piano player, but I cannot play Mozart's concertos. Do I also have a disorder?

John's a writer, but he hasn't yet topped the New York Times bestseller list (a desirable state). Does he have a disorder too?

mythago | November 23, 2005 12:08 PM

I thought that made it pretty clear that we won't actually know if he was/is tainted/whatever you want to call it until we can look at it in retrospect.

No, what you made clear was that you thought a child behaving this way could be 'irrevocably tainted,' whatever that means.

I choose to label it sociopathy.

Well sure. You can label it "banaphone" if you like. Just don't be surprised when people note that you are taking a word with a well-defined, specific meaning, and misapplying it rather wildly.

But you seem to be assuming it's *all* the father's fault.

Brian, if you're just going to invent arguments out of thin air, could you possibly invent someone else's?

Matt Arnold | November 23, 2005 12:15 PM

Would you say that a child that hasn't yet learned to read is stupid? He/She is in a less desirable state (illiteracy) and getting to a more desirable state. Is that a disorder?
Not stupid, but yeah, illiteracy is a disorder.

I am a piano player, but I cannot play Mozart's concertos. Do I also have a disorder?
Only if you want to play Mozart's concertos. Good luck with that.

John's a writer, but he hasn't yet topped the New York Times bestseller list (a desirable state). Does he have a disorder too?
Depends on whether he feels fulfilled. It's long past time that we raised the bar regarding what we consider medical restoration or cures, vs. medical enhancement. In the 21st century, this is going to become an important issue. We need to see the human condition as a disorder. For more information, see:

http://transhumanism.org/index.php/WTA/faq/

peterb | November 23, 2005 01:14 PM

Not stupid, but yeah, illiteracy is a disorder.

Then it seems to be a disorder that you suffer from, since you keep taking words with simple, well-understood meanings, and making up dumb interpretations of them that no one else, in the entire history of the universe since time began, has used.

Specifically, an infant who cannot read does not have a disorder. Someone who describes a normally developing 2 year old as a "psychopath," however, might.

-peterb

Matt Arnold | November 23, 2005 01:49 PM

peterb,
Using different vocabulary is a way to shift that vocabulary. Memes are one of the tools of social change. Words such as "disorder" and "sociopath" are value judgements. So are "healthy" and "unhealthy," "normal" and "abnormal." To accept the standard places where the lines are drawn between these is to concede truth claims that you might not otherwise concede. All I'm doing is discriminating based on the content of one's character. In the case of children, problems such as ignorance and selfishness are soon cured by age. It's not iredeemable. I myself was one of those defective little buggers at one time, and I plan on becoming even less defective than I currently am. But in the meantime you don't let your infant drive a car, or get a job, or do anything by themselves until they're ready. By doing so you are discriminating against them on the basis of merit, as you train and grow them to have greater merit and be more and more cured of their unfortunate condition. Why not use words that acknowledge that reality?

Steve Eley | November 23, 2005 01:51 PM

Matt Arnold:
We need to see the human condition as a disorder. For more information, see:
http://transhumanism.org/index.php/WTA/faq/

Aha! Suddenly it's all clear. Mr. Arnold isn't just speaking for himself. He is attempting to speak for a philosophical movement.

It's an unusually vapid movement, and his idiosyncratic concept of "disorder" isn't even part of the principles of transhumanism. But it does help to explain why he responds to observations that he's moderating his statements by insisting that, no, he really is intractable after all. He needs to defend The Cause, so he doesn't lose his reserved seat when the singularity comes.

Heh.

Steve Eley | November 23, 2005 01:58 PM

Matt Arnold:
But in the meantime you don't let your infant drive a car, or get a job, or do anything by themselves until they're ready. By doing so you are discriminating against them on the basis of merit, as you train and grow them to have greater merit and be more and more cured of their unfortunate condition. Why not use words that acknowledge that reality?

Because there's already a perfectly good word, one that's universally understood and fully conveys every connotation you put forward, without the need to sow confusion by reappropriating other words with clear definitions contrary to yours.

The word you are looking for is childhood. Use it. It works.

peterb | November 23, 2005 02:50 PM

Matt,

Using different vocabulary is a way to shift that vocabulary

When the different vocabulary you choose to use is ox-stunningly dumb, It's also a sign of ignorance.

To describe a child as "defective" because it doesn't know how to drive a car is as stupid and wrongheaded as describing a tomato plant seedling as "defective" because it isn't currently bearing fruit. The only thing that is defective is your abuse of language.

"Defective" means "faulty." I would submit that if you find me an infant who can drive a car, that is the infant that is defective.

Really, this is too much. You misused a bunch of words because you don't actually know what they mean. Why not just admit that and move on, rather than try to come up with elaborate ex post facto justifications along the lines of "No, really, I'm just so sophisticated that you mundanes can't comprehend the radical nature of my meme-shifting?"

Karl | November 23, 2005 02:58 PM

This is getting funny.

Martin Wagner | November 23, 2005 03:25 PM

Matt, I think where you're fucking up is in trying to apply a one-size-fits-all standard for what you consider normal. Judging a small child's abilities by adult standards of normality is, to be blunt, ridiculous and untenable on its face. Kids aren't defective or disordered, they're just kids. You can't call them defective simply because they aren't already as sensible as adults. And if they misbehave in public, and the parents don't exercise authority and appropriate discipline right away to teach the child that's unacceptable behavior, then it's the parents who are defective.

Anyway, there does happen to be an excellent remedy for the nuisance of having to hear children carry on in public. Works like a dream for me!

Karl | November 23, 2005 03:43 PM

If I understand Matt correctly, he is judging the defectiveness of the human race relative to a posthuman or a transhuman as per the website he cited.

Martin Wagner | November 23, 2005 04:22 PM

Except Matt's views on child development don't seem to be in sync even with what they say on transhumanism.org. Searching the site for the keyword "children" gave me this: Transhumanists believe parents should be given all the help and information available to make the right decisions for their children. Then we should trust with the responsibility to choose wisely. Not all parents will choose wisely, but most will. We find bizarre the assertion by opponents of human enhancement technology that there are legions of parents prepared to conduct risky and dangerous experiments on their children for dubious benefits. On the other hand we believe it is every parent’s, and society’s, responsibility to ensure that children are given the best possible start in life, with the healthiest bodies and minds we can give them... Nothing there that refers to young children as defective by nature, by any means.

Brian Greenberg | November 23, 2005 04:31 PM

First of all, Matt - I admire what you're trying to do. You made an argument and you're sticking with it, despite almost universal rejection of said argument. I've been there & I know the feeling. You go, boy (anyone ever notice that expression only works for girls? I wonder why that is...)

Anyway, that being said, here's my favorite part of your most recent attempt:

I am a piano player, but I cannot play Mozart's concertos. Do I also have a disorder? Only if you want to play Mozart's concertos. Good luck with that.

So, basically, if I have goals that I have not yet achieved, then I have a disorder. Suggesting, of course, that I can cure my disorder simply by changing my goals. Hey - I no longer wish to play a Mozart concerto. Ta da! Disorder cured - I'm normal now.

Maybe we could apply that to other (more commonly agreed upon definitions of) disorders. Have cancer? Want to cure it? Easy! Simply remove "getting healthy" as one of your goals. There. Problem solved. Disorder eliminated.

Congrats, John - who'd have thought your blog would be the first to cure cancer...

PeterP | November 23, 2005 04:58 PM

Peterb?!

There can be only one!!!

peterb | November 23, 2005 09:42 PM

Tremble before the might of my large, manly, um. Sword. Yeah.

Matt Arnold | November 28, 2005 01:11 PM

Brian,
you seem to be getting the point that the word "disorder" is a value judgement. When someone labels something disordered they've decided what is "ordered" and declared something to be outside of that. It's funny that you mention cancer. I'd be wealthy if I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say that they're glad they have a life-threatening medical crisis because they became a better person; or for every time I heard a devout bible-believer praise God for "blessing" them with cancer, heart disease, or strokes in his perfect will.

I'm making a value judgement with my use of "disorder" or "psychotic." I'm not imposing my standard on everyone, I'm merely asking to be allowed to have a variant standard and use it for my own value judgements.

Martin Wagner said:

"Judging a small child's abilities by adult standards of normality is, to be blunt, ridiculous and untenable on its face. Kids aren't defective or disordered, they're just kids. You can't call them defective simply because they aren't already as sensible as adults."

Why not?

Matt Arnold | November 28, 2005 01:20 PM

Martin, to be more specific in my question to you, do you set standards for how you want to be treated? For instance, do you say "I don't want to be kicked in the shin?" That's a value judgement. You set a negative value on being kicked in the shin. When a kid kicks you in the shin they've fallen short of that standard. Do you say "please do that again" or do you call them defective (according to your value judgement) by asking them to stop? Then they learn not to do that and that defect is fixed.

Stouthunter | November 28, 2005 03:44 PM

There seems to be a common idea that is being danced around. Parenting requires responsibility. I've seen things like parents bringing a child to the ER for vomiting and feeding the child tons of crap from the vending machines! The they become angry at us because the child vomited again. Rather than do what was right for the child, the parents did what was easy. The child paid for that mistake.
The video is another example. It's easier to let the x box babysit rather than be involved with the child. The child is already beginning to pay that price.
I've been on to many ambulance calls and worked to many ER shifts when an injured child or abused child has presented. A common theme is the lack of limits and lack of parental responsibility. Yet it's the child ends up the patient.
The bottom line is that it isn't my child free ears or life that is the victim of the refusal of responsibility. It's the child and the society the child grows into that suffer the consequences.

moioci | December 2, 2005 01:17 AM

Does anyone else find it creepy that the tough-guy character in the game, who is either named or labelled 'Assassin,' seems to be lip-syncing this foul-mouthed petulant punk?

Rambo: Bring me the MF chocolate milk!
Too weird.

Coach | June 7, 2006 01:53 PM

I think the "village to raise a child" comments are missing one MUY IMPORTANTE fact... THE VILLAGE IS NOT ALLOWED TO HELP! I taught for 6 years... then I gave up. I gave up because I heard from parents of misbehaving children, "Oh little Sarah could NEVER do something like that! She's an ANGEL!" (after being told that their 6 year old BIT the class hamster) or "My kid would NEVER say the F-word!" (that said after being told that the child told me to "F*&K off" when asked to play a simple scale - a 6th grader). I would LOVE to be a part of the village (albeit without adding kids of my own) and help raise the children in it... IF I WAS ALLOWED. the burnout rate for teachers in my state is TWO YEARS. TWO YEARS!!! that is REDICULOUS! not only do teachers not get paid much (along with firefighters, cops and nurses... while "atheletes" get paid through the nose... but that's a whole different rant), teachers get abused (punched, kicked; kids here put marijuana in the teacher's coffee pot), shot, cursed at, spit on... pretty much what nurses and cops get. YET teachers are RELIED upon in many cases, to be the SOLE parental figure. Many parents are too wrapped up in what THEY want, or the way THEY think the world is, to actually do THEIR JOB. I have had kids ask me questions about sex that their parents wouldn't answer, i even had one poor girl start her menstrual period "Carrie" style - without knowing what it was! I did my best in all cases to help the child deal and understand... unfotunately I can't even do so in my office with the door closed, or I could be accused of molestation.

where is this seemingly random rambling of anecdotal evidence headed? I am just trying to point out that YES it SHOULD take a village to raise a child... BUT too many parents nowadays will not ALLOW anyone else to say something to their child without threatening a lawsuit; nor will they even attempt to THINK that their child might be capable of any act they are told the child engaged in. How is the "village" supposed to help when not only does the child have NO respect for any adult/authority figure, the parent coddles them and only assumes Angelic thoughts and behaviors are the ones their child will engage in to the exclusion of any that might be made into a learning experience?

To clarify, I am NO LONGER teaching. As much as I LOVE passing on knowledge and seeing the joy in anyone, not just a child, when they learn something new or are just excited about a subject; I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't argue with parents who refuse to see the truth, or are so wrapped up in what THEY want from living vicariously through their child, that they CAN'T see past the end of their noses. It hurts me every day not to spread my love and knowledge to others who might benefit and gain joy from it. My current job has better pay, benefits, hours and MUCH less pain and sadness for me.

oh, and I do not plan to have kids. I prefer to hand them back when I can. Much of that cemented by my nephew and other kids with parents who would rather not have had kids. Kids aren't so stupid that they can't figure out you didn't want them. I still do some volunteer work at the schools I taught for and I prefer touching hundreds of lives to possibly screwing up one or two. If it makes any difference I am female, I am aware my name is fairly ambiguous and that the assumption would be that I was male. Just thought I'd throw that last bit out there.

Another Mom | October 2, 2006 12:16 PM

I know this is late.

But why didn't she just unplug the X-box? If the 9 year old thinks she was meant to put on this earth just to serve him.....he's got another thing coming.

Take the damn game console away! Go pawn it, and tell him he can have it back when he gets the money to buy it back.

I don't see the problem with the game, the kid sucks at it. Yeah, I'm the video game, D&D, and Anime Mom. I will probably go through this when my daughter becomes Nine. Perhaps Nothing is wrong with this kid, he just forgot his legs ain't broken, and who brought him into the world.

If this was the first time he forgot to turn off his head set, maybe it was one of the few times he a fit. And did anyone think that maybe he wanted to 'show off' to his friends that HE was the MAN of the house?

AW | April 1, 2007 08:59 AM

just don't have kids... duh!

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