I think I’m supposed to begin this post with the cliché disclaimer of, “I don’t like to judge…” or “Far be it from me to comment on another parent…” but that’s exactly what I plan to do. So. Gird your loins – I’m about to get judgey up in here.
The 80-degree afternoon struck Search and Destroy with a severe case of cabin fever; the two boys were pacing the living room like caged tigers. It was off to the park.
About 30 minutes into some stomp-rocket fun in the grass, another little boy wandered toward us. For the purposes of this post, we shall call him Diego. Because that was his name.
Diego, age 3, was clad in black cargo shorts and no shirt to his name. He was counting and kicking his soccer ball around the expansive open space. Search’s next air rocket launch landed near our new “friend.” Diego ran to it.
“Mine!” called Search.
“Now, now,” I reminded my son. “Be nice. I’m sure he’s just picking it up for you.” Diego turned and threw the rocket in the opposite direction (which given its foam composition meant it landed approximately 2 and a half feet from where Search and Diego stood). No harm, no foul.
It was Destroy’s turn next. The rocket flew up toward the trees. Both Destroy and Diego ran toward it, but Diego got there first given his proximity head start. Diego looked at us and then stomped on the stomp rocket. Destroy screamed. Diego ripped the edge of the rocket.
“I’m sure it was an accident,” I reassured the quivering lips and watering eyes of my son, giving Diego the benefit of the doubt. We headed to the playground to expend some pent up energy instead.
Sand! Slides! Swings! It’s a preschool paradise. At least it was – until Diego wandered over shortly thereafter.
Search flew down the big boy slide. Diego flung a handful of sand at the slide as he reached the bottom. Once again, I let it go as I’d just chastised my own kid for throwing sand on the slide. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery? (I did “remind” Search to leave the tiny granulated particles in place, loudly, while eyeballing the bare-chested brat.)
Destroy was swinging back and forth on the monkey bars when I heard a shout. “Mommy, he hit me! That boy hit me!”
I hadn’t seen it. But before I could figure out any sort of eloquent response, Diego ran up behind Destroy as he climbed back up the structure. And smacked him on his side.
Destroy locked eyes with me, almost as though he couldn’t believe what was happening. “HITTING IS NOT NICE!” he shrieked.
“That’s right,” I emphatically concurred. My enthusiastic agreement seemed to perplex Destroy even more.
“Shut the FUCK up,” announced Diego.
“Shut the FUCK up. Shut the FUCK up. SHUT THE FUCK UP!” he chanted.
Notice at no point in this story have I mentioned Diego’s parents. This is because they were not anywhere I could find.
Suddenly Diego ran up behind Destroy and flung a small rock at his head.
I whirled around, no more subtle “reminders.” And there were no responsible adults around (or even irresponsible ones, for that matter).
“That is absolutely not ok. You need to go find your family. Right now.” (There’s not really much you can do about a rogue 3-year-old.)
I marched over to a group of tough looking guys in baggy saggy pants and oversized black shirts topped by flat-brimmed sideways still-stickered hats– the only others nearby. “Is he yours?”
They momentarily turned down the Destiny’s Child they were rocking out to and stared me down. “Ha. That one? Pfft nah. But saw he’s stupid messed up.”
A little voice behind me piped up, “He said stupid!”
Gotta say, if that’s the most incredulous part of the park date, we’re doing a damned good job of parenting thankyouverymuch. Granted, that whole absentee aspect set the bar pretty low for this comparison.
To Diego’s parents: Yeah, I totally judged you today.
PS. A group of people began arriving to set up for a picnic on the opposite end of the park. A couple of teenagers came by to claim the tiny hooligan as we left. So I didn’t call child protective services.