March 30, 2012 by David Gillaspie
or, How Not To Deal With Unruly Children
Disclaimer: I was one of the guys who said they’d never get married, never have children. Too many places to go, too many people to meet.
Then I went somewhere and met someone, got married and had kids, wrestling kids, which means the best kids ever.
I took to the father-role the way a Doberman takes to dinner. Some dogs you don’t pet while they eat, the same way you don’t interfere with some guys’ kids unless you have their permission.
Maybe you’ve noticed the talk about kids running wild in public while their parents expect someone else to deal with them? It happens. I thought it only happened to others until it was my turn.
One of my joys of small town living was taking my young boys out early and driving the streets in my old pick-up. The idea was to build sweet memories for them to reflect on. The early morning hour let me cruise the streets slower than I could later in the day.
Since every cruise needs a soundtrack, this sort of drive had Bruce Springsteen’s My Hometown. It’s a tear jerker. It sets the right mood.
On this particular rainy day, with the kids in the front seat, age four and seven, I’m getting all choked up thinking they’ll grow up and forget our time together. I cross the highway slowly on the green light, second gear slow. Green turns to yellow then red.
A policeman on a motorcycle sees me, the only truck on the road, and pulls me over for running a red light. He gives me a ticket, ruining the morning ritual.
Since I’m near the store, I decide to make a grocery run. My little boy decides he needs a seven dollar container of hand-squeezed orange juice. He tries to sneak it into the cart, but I put it back.
Once at the check-out, little boy runs off for his orange juice. Since I’m in the middle of checking out, I sent big boy off to drag the other one back from the other side of the store. I hear the screaming and decide if it gets worse when he’s closer, I’ll abandon the groceries and run for it.
Two cash registers over an older man, a larger older man, leans over my screaming kid. I expect a gentle help from an experienced parent. Instead, this guy screams my kid into shock.
I go to collect my stunned son, imagining the ways I could drop this old coot. Under-hook hip throw? Head and arm? Snap down? A driving double? My attitude is less than friendly, a feeling from the mat.
With the kid in my arms, I saw a few quiet things. Noticing we’re leaving at the same time, I say a few more quiet things. His car is parked next to mine, so I say a few more quiet things. But not quiet enough.
Once we get in the truck and belt in, I ask the boys, “Did daddy say any bad words?”
Older boys said, “Yes, lots of them.”
“That was my way of teaching you boys words you’re not supposed to say. Now you know, and you’re smart enough to remember. And remember this, don’t tell mom about this.”
Two seconds after we opened the front door my two boys ratted me out. I explained what happened. Later I told momma we wouldn’t have to worry about someone frightening our kids and threatening them if they told us. They took a complicated situation and kicked butt. It was my butt, and I didn’t like it, but it counts.