But I just never know if it's my place to say something.
First off, while emotional abuse is just as damaging (or more so) than physical abuse, there's not the same sort of immediate danger with a jerk parent that there is with one who's physically harming their kid. (Those people aren't jerk parents, those people are... well, I can't use that language on my blog.)
Secondly, though I'm generally optimistic on most subjects, I also think that some random stranger in the grocery store making a comment about how that person is treating their kid really isn't going to change their behavior at all. The jerk parent doesn't care what strangers think, and I always wonder if I say something, if that'll just make the parent more angry; if so, that'll undoubtedly be taken out on the child. Lose-lose.
So, I just keep my mouth shut and hope that someday, something gets through to that person. And that the child manages to avoid being permanently damaged.
Last night's trip to the grocery store was certainly no fun in the jerk parent department. In a less-than-30-minute shopping excursion, I saw:
- A woman with children ages 1-ish, 6-ish, and 13-ish shopping for frozen pizzas. The baby was sitting in the cart screaming his head off. Screeching, really. He wasn't upset, I guess he just thought screeching would be fun. Mom didn't care in the least. Meanwhile, the 13 year old was eyeing a display of Doritos while the 6 year old politely complied with Mom's snotty requests to hurry up and choose a pizza. Mom screamed at all three kids at least three times in the less than two minutes I was near them. Finally the 6 year old says to Mom, sadly, "I can't deciiiiide!!" to which Mom replies, "God, you never like anything, I guess you're just screwed for dinner then, go hungry!" Seriously?! How about helping the kid decide instead of berating him?!
- A woman appearing to be... what's the diplomatic way to say this... a fan of mind altering substances?... making a huge scene upon coming around the corner of a display of Valentine's candy to find her son, who looked to be about 10. He was on one side of the 2-foot by 2-foot square display, she was on the other. She proceeds to totally flip out on him, crackhead style, and scream, "How many (bleep) times have I (bleep) told you to not (bleep) wander away from me in the (bleep) store?! You're such an idiot!" I gave her my best dirty look as my stomach churned. She promptly led him outside, I assumed to rush to car to be somewhere important. Because, you know, I can't think of any other explanation for her behavior... but no, she rushed outside to her friend, they each lit a cigarette, and she snidely told this child, "go play in traffic if you're gonna wander off." She and her friend laughed. The child hung his head and kicked the ground. My heart broke.
- And okay, this isn't a jerk parent case, but I'm putting it in this post anyway because sometimes I just don't get people. When I went to check out, there was a woman at the checkstand whose last few items were just being scanned. When they were all bagged, the cashier asked her if she had her store loyalty card with her. She replied that she didn't have one. He politely said, "okay, no problem" and just gave her her total. She quickly said to him, "no, I'm not letting these points go to waste, I want to use my friend's card." The cashier asked her for that person's phone number so he could put it in the computer to get that person the points. Oh, but the woman didn't know what phone number her friend's loyalty card account would be under. Rather than let it go like 95% of rational people would do at the busiest grocery store in town on a Friday night at 5:30pm, what does this woman do? Right, she gets out her cellphone and calls the friend to ask what number the card is under. The person on the phone is obviously confused, so she explains that she doesn't have a card but doesn't want the points to go to waste. Rather than give her the phone number, the person on the phone proceeds to ask her what she's buying. She tells them... one... item... at... a... time. The cashier shoots me an apologetic look. I smile and gesture that it's no big deal. (Because really, what would be the point of getting upset?) Eventually the person on the phone convinces the lady in front of me that they don't know what number it's under. They finally hang up. Whew, finally! ...No. She calls someone else to get THEIR number. Oh boy. They're probably on the phone 3-4 minutes before she finally gets the number and hangs up. The poor cashier obviously wants to deck her. Somehow he maintained his composure. My hat's off to him, and when it was finally my turn, I told him that. But really, her friend probably got a nickel worth of rewards for this purchase. Why booger up the whole line, especially during rush hour, for that?! I have no idea.
So there you have it. My grocery store rants for a Friday night.
I bet you wish you could get the last 5 minutes of your life back.
So did I, after that lady left the cash register.