Verbal Assault ≠ Good Parenting

I am not a parent, and there's a great deal about parenting that I don't pretend to understand. However, I do work with kids, and so I've learned a thing or two, especially about manners. Or, the lack thereof.

Tonight, I took my partner out to a local Cold Stone for a treat. We opted to dine outside, due in large part to the frigid air inside (we were cold), and also to the mass of people inside. We took up residence at a table just outside. A table whose seats were, for the convenience of other people at the shopping strip, directly up against the glass windows. Inside, opposite the glass from our table, was a table.

Sitting at this table was a young toddler and his father. Here's the first problem: This guy took his son with him to Cold Stone, but did not buy his son any ice cream, opting instead to only feed him small bites from his own heaping bowl of ice cream.

And so, without any ice cream of his own to munch on, this child was left to his own devices. Thanks to his father ignoring him in favor of his ice cream, the child decided to seek attention elsewhere. Just as seems to be my luck, "elsewhere" became the window, against which I was sitting sideways, opposite Robert. The child went directly to the window, and stood against it. He smiled, and in response I gave a little wave. That was the second problem: I made the mistake of actually giving the little brat my attention.

Said child then proceeded to press his face against the glass, closing the gap between us to a matter of only a few inches, and making strange faces. Having never been confronted with such a situation, I tried to ignore it. He persisted, so finally I gave a small wave that said "Okay, that's really not that funny, in fact you're making me uncomfortable, go sit down now." He seemed to get it, and went and sat down.

Meanwhile, Dad the Ignoramus continued to stuff his face.

Satisfied, I returned to my own very pleasant ice cream experience. Things went well for about another three minutes, at which point the attention-starved kid decided to run back to the window and be obnoxious. Again, I tried to wave him off. Nothing happened. Again. The kid actually shook his head no. Again. Finally, he goes and sits down.

Next thing I know, the door to Cold Stone opens, and out steps the kid's dad. And then he speaks, in all his ignorant asshole glory:

"Hey Tough Guy."

Suddenly, an ugly mug with putrid breath appears before my eyes. It's a full-grown human asshole, bent in half, his face a foot from my own, with a pissed-off expression that was trying to tell me that I was the one who was a jerk.

"Look Tough Guy, you don't have to act like this, okay? You don't have to be tough, because that's not how things are. So just, just, just leave it alone, okay?"

Miraculously, I managed to keep my mouth shut (which was made easier by the bad breath and the spit that was spewing forth from the mouth of this model father). How nice it would have been to open a can on this guy. It would have been soooo nice to say something like

"Look, you fucking asshole, I may not have kids, but I know a thing or two about manners. First off, way to set an example of decency and civility to your son there. Now he thinks that any problem can be solved by getting in strangers' faces. And, even better, if he acts like a little brat, you'll go yell at the nice people he's bothering, rather than telling him that he's not behaving appropriately in public. So leave me the hell alone. And better yet, go fuck yourself."

After the fact, I pondered what other options I had, to handle this. I suppose I could have gone in and told the bastard that his son was making me uncomfortable, and would he mind making sure his son behave, or at the very least, stop bothering me. But really, I hate even thinking that I should tell someone how to parent. Or, heaven forbid, ask that a child behave when his parent refuses to extend such a courtesy to me.

I have no doubt that, were I actually to have spoken my mind, or made such a request of this "parent", he would have whipped out his NRA membership card in a flash and then wanted to brawl. And for my part, I decided that verbal assault was enough for me for the evening, I need not further hurt the feelings of this lazy, illiterate, WWF-loving scumbag. To this jerk, I say: "You suck at life. Go fuck yourself."

Ahhh, now I feel better.