“Dad!” I’m mid-conversation. “Dad!” We keep talking. “Dad! Dad! Dad!” I stop, wondering if LT might realize that it would be polite if he patiently waited until his father finished the sentence that was still coming out of said father’s mouth. Clap clap clap! “Daddy, I’m talking to you!” Clap clap clap!
Trust me, LT, he knows; it would be difficult not to. But that doesn’t stop the father from trying. Clap clap clap.
The insistent clapping is interrupted by the mother. “Yes!” I exclaim, silently because I have a deep suspicion that I probably should not openly express joy at the reprimand of someone’s child. Or at least where the parent can hear. “Finally, LT is about to get it!” I guiltily hope as I grip the couch cushions.
Instead, the mother turns to the father and says “Daddy, he was talking to you. He wanted you to listen to him talk about …. ” The mother didn’t actually say ellipses, but it sure as hell wasn’t anything so important as to justify the triple clap. Twice.
LT is four and his meltdowns are nothing new. Should I look the other way and ignore the fact that this kid is growing into a right proper, well, little terror? Should I continue to bite my tongue or can I please ask this kid to exercise some manners?
Happy Holidays! The eggnog needs more rum. — Over the Little Terror
No, you can’t ask the kid to exercise some manners. For one thing, it’s not your place to do that. You aren’t his parent or guardian or teacher or babysitter. For another thing, the kid probably doesn’t know what manners are because his parents haven’t been teaching him. As much as you might think of this child as a little terror, he’s not the one in the wrong here. It’s your friends, his mother and father, who are failing. It’s their job to stop him when he’s interrupting you and say, “Wait your turn.” Or: “We don’t interrupt people when they’re talking.” Or: “Unless it’s an emergency, you need to wait until our friend is done talking before you begin speaking.” And then they need to remind their kid of these rules each and every time he interrupts someone until he stops doing it. How else is he going to learn? His parents are being lazy. And because of their laziness, their child is going to grow up with people like you framing him as a little terror when, in fact, if taught manners, he might just be a pretty great kid — one whose company you could potentially enjoy. But he’s apparently not and you apparently don’t, so rather than continue spending time with him, stick with friends whose kids aren’t little shits or, better yet, limit your interactions with your parent friends to times when they have babysitters for their kids and can focus 100% of their attention on adult interactions and not policing (or ignoring, as the case may be) their offspring’s behavior.
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