This essay represents the 13th post of The Angry Czeck Century Series, a thought-provoking collection of penetrating harangues of rancor leading to the Angry Czeck’s 100th Post. You are currently reading Post 99…wait! Wasn’t the last post Post 99? Fuck you. I miscounted, okay? This is the 99th post. Back off!
The other day, Mrs. Angry and I visited the local Barnes & Noble with the kids in tow. Angry Junior likes to peruse the “talking” greeting cards, so Mrs. Angry left him to explore the rack while she placed an order at the coffee counter. I sat at a table nearby with Angry Three several feet away.
Because our order was nearly ready, I left my seat to retrieve Angry Junior. I found him engrossed with the greeting cards. “Ready for breakfast, buddy?”
“Excuse me,” said an unfamiliar voice, “is that your son?”
I turned to find a fleshy old man standing behind me. His face was set in the grim and stony way in which one might regard a witch burning. He was dressed like a sweat sock.
“Yes,” I answered.
“He’s been unattended for at least five minutes,” Old Sweat Sock Man told me.
I nodded to Mrs. Angry. “My wife is right there.”
“Her back is turned,” continued Old Sweat Sock Man. “Do you know how quickly somebody can take a child?”
“Thanks for your concern,” I said, and I took Angry Junior to our table. I should have told the old man to toss my salad. I didn’t, partly because it would have disappointed Angry Junior, but mostly because such penetrating wit always escapes me at critical moments.
But after stewing over this unpleasant episode for weeks, I’m ready now to make my retort to Old Sweat Sock Man.
Like the majority of your smugly judgmental ilk, I noted that you were without children. As you explored Barnes & Noble without hindrance of offspring, you saw an opportunity to fill the loneliness of your childless life by placing your inexperienced values on a complete stranger.
Of course, you watched enough episodes of Touched By An Angel and Major Dad to understand the basics of parenting. You’re not without some knowledge, right? You’ve filled in the gaps with Dr. Phil and Oprah, and now you’re a goddamned expert. You should write a book. Everyone else has.
Meanwhile, you gasp at those savages who tether their children with leashes when in public places. How barbaric, you snarl beneath your breath on the way to the restroom. Why can’t these ignorant people trust their children to stay at their sides? Not that children should be allowed in public places anyway! Home and school is the proper place for children.
You have all kinds of rules that, should you ever find yourself in the role of parent, you would so readily implement. You would never spank! (Or, depending on who you are, you’d spank all the time!) You’d never yell! Never allow your children to make an audible sound during dinner in a restaurant. And if they did, why, you would do the polite thing and leave at once!
Furthermore, you wouldn’t allow back talk! Nothing but “yes sirs” and “no ma’ams” from your perfectly disciplined and imaginary kids.
Yeah. We know how you’d parent. We know. You tell us all the time. If not face-to-face, then at least loud enough so everyone can hear what an enlightened bastard you are.
Sorry to bust your idiot balloon, bub. Kids are born not knowing your neat checklist of rules. You teach them what you can, you’re thankful for what they absorb, and if you want to stay sane, you pick your battles.
And sometimes, you manage to get things right. For example, I know that my son can be left without me hovering over him. I know he will not speak to Stranger Danger. These are the things you don’t know, Old Sweat Sock Man.
We see the way you look at us when Junior throws a tantrum. Hey, Pal, we want to get out of the house just like you Non-Replicates. We like going out to eat, too. And seeing a movie. I’m not leaving. I’m not changing my seat. And if you piss me off, I’m not even going to shush. Sorry if my kid’s loud Star Wars re-enactment is spoiling your witty conversation.
By the way, I already had that conversation, like, ten years ago. Don’t bother jotting down a transcript to use later for the feature film script you think you’re someday going to write. You’re not clever or original, and not all the double lattes in the world is changing that.
Allow me to re-iterate, Old Sweat Sock Man: Eat. My. Shit. Go apply your creepy values where they are appreciated. And just so there’s no mistake, the mothers of the world do not need you to tell them to put socks on their infants.
Meanwhile, back at the bookstore, I’m sending Angry Junior to find some new sticker books. They’re several shelves away, and I’ll probably loose sight of him. I’ll thank you to keep your mouth shut.