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Daddy Starbucks
Sunday's adventure in underparenting: I'm writing at my usual Starbucks, and a "dad" comes in with his two brats, a girl and a boy. Girl brat looks to be about five, boy brat, about six. They're both playing video games, and the boy's video game has the sound up. (Remember books? They develop more than eye-hand coordination, and they don't disturb adults with hangovers trying to read the newspaper in peace and quiet.)

Both brats are kicking the bottom of the table while dad is getting them food. I quietly tell them to stop, knowing I'd better sneak in a little disciplining before dad comes back to let them get their rotten on. Dad delivers food, brats complain: "It's too hot, it's too cold, I don't like it." Brats fight. Boy shoves girl. Dad is loud, brats are also loud. Neither dad nor brats notice the existence of any other patrons, a number of whom are looking pained at the noise. The Brat Family stays far too long.

The kids begin going through the toy ads from the paper, greedy little curs, behaving as greedy little curs will behave -- shouting their toy orders at Daddy. The finishing touch? The dad opts for bribery as a substitute for parenting, plaintively asking the little girl, "If I buy you this, will you sleep in your own bed?" The little girl, who clearly knows who's in charge, responded as expected: "NO!"

As I wrote in my column a few weeks ago, "I recognize that I'm self-involved, self-indulgent, and impulsive, and thus unfit to be a parent. There are others who are also self-involved, self-indulgent, and impulsive, but see no reason for that to stop them from accessorizing with a couple of children."

Posted by aalkon at November 2, 2004 8:23 AM