Tuesday, June 25, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 16

Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on October 11th, 2011, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 12, Issue 32 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 12, Issue 32

Parents behaving badly

Rob needs to think before he speaks


What is it about juvenile amateur sporting events that makes parents lose their minds, as if their 6-year-old daughter’s soccer game was the final match in the World Cup? Parents scream from sidelines, curse at underpaid or volunteer referees, and throw chairs into playing fields, all because their little Jimmy was called off sides. I’m talking about parents coming unglued at sporting events where half of the kids on the field are so young they aren’t sure if they’re playing soccer or just picking flowers on a brisk Saturday morning. Regardless, Mom and Dad, wearing matching team-colored warm-up suits and armed with 24 ounces of Starbucks coffee, are screaming at any kid who will listen to “focus!” and “get your head in the game!” Is it really a game anymore if the kids are verbally ravaged during the entire playing session?

‘Do you know something I don’t? Like how to eat and not poop?’

Parents act as if, when their children’s coach yanks their 8-year-old kids out of a game and sits them on a bench before halftime, they have forever lost their chances for that coveted USC full-ride college scholarship. This whole thing has gotten a little out of hand. Parents are yelling at each other, yelling at coaches, speeding off in hissy fits from practice in their SUVs—all because their kid wasn’t chosen to play center forward?

While all of this goes on in front of me, I stand on my side of the field and bite my lip. I want to say something, but I know that whatever comes out of my mouth will just be fuel on an already out-of-control fire. My verbal communication skills are, as described by my wife, whom I love, “embarrassingly awful.” For whatever reason, I don’t have the ability to de-escalate anything. I only know how to make situations worse. Here are a couple of my greatest hits in making the world generally a worse place with just a few spoken words.

The IHOP Incident

The family had endured a very long and stressful day at one of our kid’s soapbox derby races. We didn’t win, so I was in an unhappy place. “Butt-hurt” is the term my family uses to describe me when I don’t get my way. We were looking for a place for all of us to eat. Everyone was hungry, and tensions were high. The kids announced they wanted pancakes. We rolled into an IHOP and I told the hostess we needed a table for 10 people. IHOP was insanely busy, and the last thing this hostess needed was another large party. She rolled her eyes at me, and then walked around the corner to try to put some tables together.

For whatever reason, it flicked a switch in me. I left my family standing in the entryway and followed the hostess around the corner and found her trying to push some tables together.

Then I opened my mouth: “Excuse me. I’m sorry. I don’t want to inconvenience you. Obviously our party is too large for your establishment. We’re going to leave and go somewhere else where they want our business.”

The hostess immediately said, “Oh, no, it’s not an inconvenience at all!”

I snapped back, “Yes, it is. I saw you roll your eyes at me. We’re out of here!”

I turned around and walked out. My family was looking at me as if I had lost my mind. “Let’s go! I saw a Waffle House down the street!”

RESULT: All of us had to get back into three different cars and try to navigate to the Waffle House while the hostess tried to block us from leaving the parking lot by jumping in front of our cars and apologizing. In my defense, the Waffle House did have great customer service.

The Target Incident

I was sent to the store to pick up just a few household items. Normally, I’m not allowed to shop because my wife thinks I only know how to pull the absolute most expensive ketchup, light bulb, or garbage bags off of a shelf. I’m a sophisticated guy, and I have high standards when it comes to ketchup. My daughter accompanied me to Target, probably sent as a spy for Mom to make sure I only bought what was on the list and didn’t purchase any tools or DVDs with car chases. On my list was toilet paper. In an attempt to prove to my wife that I don’t always buy the most expensive item, I inspected the per item price and found the best deal on TP the store had. In order to get the good price, I had to buy the larger quantity. When I got to the checkout counter, I plopped down my crate of toilet paper. The checkout clerk said, “Wow, looks like you have a lifetime supply of toilet paper here.”

Then I opened my mouth: “Well, I have a lot of pooping to do.”

The look on her face was of total disgust. The clerk said, “OK, that’s a little more information than I needed to know.”

 “Well, you brought it up, so I thought I would tell it like it is. I am going to be pooping for the rest of my life, so I’m going to need a lot of toilet paper. Do you know something I don’t? Like how to eat and not poop? Then I can stop buying toilet paper altogether?”

My daughter looked like she wanted to die. I thought the whole interaction between me and the clerk was crappy.

RESULT: My daughter will never again go to a store with me if there is a slight chance we are going to buy any sanitary products. Target has a new policy where the store clerks are not allowed to make light-hearted comments to customers regarding toilet paper.

So, I’m not that dad at the water polo game getting thrown off of the pool deck by the referee. However, given any other situation, I can generally make things worse by speaking. My wife gave me a T-shirt that says it all: “CAUTION: Mouth works faster than brain.”

Rob would not be a very good candidate for employment at a suicide hotline.

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