Friday, November 30, 2007

For Me, Please Do This...For Real

In 26 days it will be stinkin' Christmas again and it's 85 degrees outside and my family has moved across the country. Add that to my million other things to do, and I'm just not in the Christmas spirit at all. I might be in a couple weeks, but right now I'm all about completion of important tasks and none of those tasks involve Christmas shopping. Unfortunately I still have to share the same stores and roadways with people who are maniacally, rabidly, dead set on Christmas shopping and as much as I try to avoid having to drive in all the traffic (because my city decided that Christmas and the start of tourist season was the perfect time to repair the streets) sometimes I do have to go out and sometimes I do have to go to the store too.

The Social Season has officially begun and that always coincides with tourist season. People from all over the world are coming to South Florida now and this promises to be one of the absolute busiest and most crowded holiday seasons we've ever had. Thank God I'm going to California. The dollar is so weak that thousands of people are coming here from Europe and South America to shop. What I'm trying to say is that I've never in my entire life seen so many people buying things.

At the same time I've never seen so many badly behaved children howling and shrieking and foaming at the mouth in retail establishments.

I'm rather fond of children even though I don't have any myself. I worked in a kindergarten after all and I used to be a nanny. I like to play with my friends' children and their toys, so it's not that I'm some kid-hating bitch or that I just don't know because I don't have any children myself. Trust me, I know plenty about kids, including how to control 20 five year olds for six hours straight without tying them to their small wooden chairs.

That said, I'd like to return to the terrible behavior I've seen from children in stores recently. You've seen it too. Kids get into a store and freak the hell out because there's all these beautiful, colorful things all over the place and they see people all around them putting the beautiful, colorful things into carts and leaving the store with them. Children do not understand the concept of money. They go into a store and see people taking things so they want to do the same thing. It's nearly impossible to try to explain to them that you have to pay for things and you have a limited budget so you can only get detergent because you actually need that and you don't really need three dolls that look like hookers and a robot dog because you have to buy food for your actual dog instead. Kids just see stuff and people taking stuff and then they feel that they need to get in on the action too because it is so unfair for them to miss out on something as great as a big place where you can just take stuff off of shelves and go home with it. Combine that with sensory overload from advertising targeted at children and the prevalence of horrible parenting and you've got a lethal combination, especially at Christmas.

I understand that even the most precious little one is going to lose his shit in a store at some point, but parents must handle this properly and none of the parents I have witnessed has done the right thing. Since I haven't been in my 'hood much lately, I've been shopping in the Rich White People world of Basura, Florida where no one knows how to raise a child properly, not even the nannies who actually do most of it.

Rich White People are terrible at parenting and mainly they're so terrible because they think they're so great. They've read all the books, they go to therapy to talk about it. They take medication and make sure their children take it too. Rich White People believe in reasoning with children and being their friend. They do not believe in any sort of discipline, though bribery is common.

Recently in stores I've seen lots of Rich White Mommies who are toned and sculpted, tanned, blonde, injected and enhanced. They all wear gym clothes with expensive shoes and carry thousand dollar purses. Their children are all named last names for first names or else very frilly Italian names and they all throw fits in stores, but not ordinary fits. These are blind, snarling, thrashing rages where the children are red and violent and look like some captured jungle predator, pre-tranquilizer dart, that you see on Animal Planet documentaries.

"I WAAAAANNNNNT ITTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!" can be heard through the aisles of every grocery store and Target, amid the racks and shelves of every Big Box, and from within the quiet and tasteful holiday displays at the finest boutiques.

The other day I had to go to Target for some rather mundane things and I witnessed at least 18 children who were recreating the Manson Family Murders in front of Butterscotch the Furreal Pony. As an aside here, I think something went awry in the Hasbro marketing department when they named this thing because at first glance it looks like Butterscotch the FUNERAL Pony to me. Is it just me? I don't think it is. Can you imagine a Funeral Pony? That would be a whole different toy now wouldn't it? What exactly would a funeral pony do? But I digress...

I had to walk past the toy section to get to the cat box and lightbulb section and as I tried to make my way out of the toy section with it's snot and tear-slicked floor and into the peace and freakin' quiet of the camping good section for my own safety, I saw a little girl of about four beating the hell out of her own mother, who was your typical Rich White Lady, talking on her iPhone while at the same time trying to reason with her daughter.

"Sweetie, don't hit Mommy, that's not nice," said the woman.

The child screamed and continued to assault her mother.

"Hold on," said the mother to whomever she was speaking, "Isabella, sweetheart, you have to stop this. It's hurting Mommy's feelings. You're going to make Mommy cry Isabella. Please don't hit Mommy. Ow. Stop Isabella. Ow. Honey, it's mean to hit Mommy. Please stop. Isabella, please don't make Mommy have to put you on a time out. It would make Mommy really sad to put Isabella on time out. Mommy doesn't like time out. Ouch. Please honey."

This went on and on and Isabella screamed and continued to "hit Mommy" repeatedly while also tearing things off the shelves.

Isabella's screams blended with the screams from the other children nearby. They seemed to be having a screaming competition, because if they were all screaming then to get their parents to give in they had to be the loudest and it escalated until the point where I decided I needed to intervene. I couldn't just mind my own business and go into the cat box section to get my litter and leave like a happily childless adult.

I decided to give every single parent in Target an early Christmas gift.

"Excuse me, " I said in my best loud, scary, authoritative voice.

Children commonly listen to strangers better than their parents, so most of them stopped and looked at me. Isabella stopped attacking her mother.

"I would like you all to know that I work for Santa Claus and I'm the person who checks to see who's been naughty or nice and all of you are being VERY NAUGHTY right now. Santa Claus is not going to be happy about this one bit!"

The children straightened up immediately and I'm surprised the parents didn't hoist me into the air, crown me with a tiara and carry me out to a ticker tape parade in my honor. The store was quiet. Everyone could shop in peace. Isabella's Mommy could continue her telephone conversation. All I can say is thank God none of them were Jewish because I wouldn't have had a reply for that.

Unless you live in a largely Jewish or non-Christmas part of the world, I encourage you to try this technique when other people's children are getting on your nerves. If you do it, please comment here or email to let me know what happened. I'm thinking that if we all do this we could start a revolution wherein we terrorize children at Christmas to make them behave in stores. I think Santa would approve.


Eric said...

Brilliant in its simplicity.

Yes the Butterscotch looks way too indulgent. I took notice to this toy a couple of weeks ago at the Box store across from my office. No sqealing kids though.

We used to threaten the child when she was younger before she knew everything in the world with calling Santa Clause if she was getting too out of line. But it never occured to me to try that on OPK.

And wonderfull dialog writing between the mom and the child. Mommy does not like time out. Loved it

Anonymous said...

I also saw 'Funeral' pony, stupid marketing department!

Anonymous said...

I too was trying to get to the cat litter and had to pass the Butterscotch display... geez. But this was at Halloween time and the parents and kids were fighting over the costumes and the candy. I could barely get by.

And I loved this story too (and I live in California and have seen these MommyBots over here as well).

creative kerfuffle said...

ok, i've been lurking and enjoying your posts for a few weeks now but this, this is so priceless. i have a 10 and 8 year old, and while they aren't angels by far, we are, thank god, out of the tantrum stages. i'm surprised those kids didn't pee their pants when you made your announcement. i would have given anything to witness that! kudos to you!
creative kerfuffle

Jen said...

First off, I have to say that I abhor that stupid Butterscotch pony. It's really quite creepy. There will never be on in my house!

Secondly, I was pushing my cart through Safeway once with my screaming 2 year old in the seat when an older gentleman approached her and told her to knock it off - she wasn't being good and that she had better listen to her Mommy. It stopped her .... for a bit at least. Personally I would rather let the kid scream than give into them or remove them from the store. I don't give in to screaming. *shrug* At least my kids have learned this by now (at least that's the way it seems at the moment) and know it's no use to scream.

jennifer said...

thats awesome!

Unknown said...

Gross, why would you want to ride a stupid little pony like that. It's so inferior to a real horse, I dont see the point. Its like parents think kids cantcomprehend size and grandeur. Sitting on Butterscotch cause its the next best thing, is sad. No comparison, just admit you failed as parents since you didn't get them the real thing, but don't try to fix it by getting a cheap runner up that doesn't satisfy their hearts desire- a real live pony.

My parents didn't get me a real pony. I'm still bitter.

I hate mommybots. someone should shove a broomhandle up their ass when they least expect it. And also, baby SUV's are obnoxious.

Anonymous said...

You just made my day. Personally, I am completely not into this holiday crapola, and most kids give me hives. Now, with your help, I'll be able to go to a store between now & January without risking life imprisonment based on my reactions.
You, dear, are a G-D-M-F GENIUS.

Anonymous said...

I love you.

That is all.


Wow. I know a lot of parents who would get mad at you for parenting their they would see it (these are the stuckup,rich kind who are stuck on the cell phone instead of parenting). I liked what they were called here..."mommybots." Women who generally don't work,spend a lot of time quiveling over prices and in general being dishonest at stores and always carry an expensive handbag. Mommybots make me very angry.

Green said...

CA is even more Christmas-centric than S. FL was. There's virtually no Hanukah stuff anywhere here, and it makes me both sad, and grinch-like.

If in your travels to LA you're swinging by SF, let me know!

Hilary said...

I like your tactic, mostly because I recognize its value.

When my older son was 4 (16) years ago, he was getting a little rambunctious while waiting his turn at the doctor's office. It was mid December, and I leaned over and whispered something in his ear and his behaviour improved dramatically. Another mom was watching and she came to sit beside me and quietly asked me what my magic words had been.

"Santa's not been around yet"

Yup, it worked like a charm, but what have you got for January through November? :)

michelle said...

you are my new hero.

Anonymous said...

i love your blog--i have another buddy that introduced it to me (he anon. admires it).

i must say, how relatable your stories are are great, and you have a natural rhythm in your writing. i'll stop being such a fan girl now.

just, keep it up!

booda baby said...

Well fucking done. I'm sure the expletive wasn't necessary, but it FELT necessary.

Anonymous said...

LOl how brilliant! I wish I could have been there.

My personal strategy is to keep the child out of the stores if possible. The materialistic frenzy is too much to deal with.

I am thankful those parents did not ruin this wonderful story by getting angry at you for parenting their kids. That wouldn't have surprised me.

MP said...

I love that idea...
I'm gonna do it!! Santa needs all the help he can get!

Hinsley Ford said...

you have a limited budget so you can only get detergent because you actually need that and you don't really need three dolls that look like hookers and a robot dog because you have to buy food for your actual dog instead.

And all I could think of with the Butterscotch thing was Owen Wilson's nickname...The Butterscotch Stallion. Now that's a pressies for all the good girls in the land. (I used to be a nanny once...for a "celeb" once - lasted one summer...unreal. THANK YOU for your comment the other day re: blogging. I loved it :) H.

Albany Jane said...

That has got to be the best thing I've heard!

And yea, I saw 'funeral pony' too.

KT said...

Totally thought it said "funeral pony" also - and I sooo want to try your "I work for Santa" trick next time I'm shopping!

Ugh, and does anyone else think it's weird when parents refer to themselves in the third person?

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