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Rant: When parents are lazy, children rule the roost

There are few absolutes in the world.

The sun will rise in the east, set in the west.

Tourists will get sunburned.

My bank account will never reach the number I'd like.

And I rant.

I'm considering adding a fifth: Kids rule the world.

Well, not really the world, just their parents.

I don't dislike children. It's the parents who drive me crazy. The ones who don't know how to parent. The ones who will do anything to make their kids happy. The ones who think discipline is a dirty word.

The ones who will jump through hoops and spend a couple thousand bucks to get their kid a ticket to hear a 15-year-old's concert. Say that again — slowly. A COUPLE THOUSAND BUCKS.

Let me be upfront: I don't have children. But that makes me the perfect observer.

It's time for parents to stop being friends, buddies, pals and enablers. It's time to be parents. It's time to add "no" to the vocabulary.

When did "You can be anything you want" become "You can do anything you want"?

Kids know the difference, and parents only reinforce the notion by siding with their child in any dispute with an authority figure. Just ask a teacher.

If you want to let your kids rule the roost at home, well, who am I to complain? But when you let them run wild in public, I get to rant. And I bet more than a few will join in.

Admit it. How many of you cringe when a family with small children gets seated next to you at a nice restaurant?

At dinner one night with my wife, a woman with two children and her friend were seated in the booth behind us. When mom wouldn't let the boy, who was 6 or 7, order what he wanted, he started banging on the booth. Mom, in a deep discussion with her friend, paid no attention.

Finally she told him if he didn't behave they would leave. A minute later he climbed on the table to pitch a new fit. Mom did nothing. Kid learned his lesson — Mom makes idle threats.

Maybe restaurants can transform those obsolete no-smoking sections into child-free zones.

This epidemic keeps spreading. At the grocery store, a young girl rides the aisles on a scooter. No parent in sight. If I spill Wesson oil in front of her, am I on the hook to buy the whole bottle?

At a shopping mall, a kid weaves among shoppers on Heelys, the sneakers that double as roller skates. I dream of clotheslining the kid. Thoughts of prison life arrest that development.

At least I could escape those situations. On a flight to Denver, I was trapped. A family of three picked the row behind me. It wasn't long before little Johnny (the name has been changed from what I really called him to protect the family nature of this newspaper) started kicking my seat. I waited for Mom or Dad to act.

Silly me.

It got worse. Johnny put his feet on the back of my seat and gave a push every few seconds. I turned and asked Mom, whose nose was buried in a book, to intervene.

"Oh, I didn't realize he was doing anything,'' she said.

Dad, in his aisle seat, was in another world.

I settled in my seat dreading the next four hours with Super Mom on the job. We hadn't even left the gate. What chance did I have at 30,000 feet?

I looked up to see the pilot disappear into the cockpit. Overcome with fear, I turned to my wife.

"It's not take your child to work day, is it?"

Times staff writer Kyle Kreiger writes an occasional rant on daily life.
E-mail him with your comments on parenting at [email protected] Include your name, age and town.

Rant: When parents are lazy, children rule the roost 04/11/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 14, 2008 1:31pm]
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