I live across from a little playground and park in my little town. On good-weather days, the playground is filled with parents and babysitters with kids in tow. Play usually sounds happy, save for the occasional screaming tantrum. There are a fair share of arguments over it being time to go home, or settling rows between siblings, but all in all, it’s a fun time at the park.
Saturday was the first day in a long time that it was warm and dry enough to get out in the yard and do some clean-up. I was raking leaves off of my flower beds, and other neighbors were sprucing up their yards, as well. The playground was alive with Mother’s Day weekend families spending time together. I’ve gotten used to seeing some very young parents there who don’t seem old enough to be parents, but I tell myself that that’s part of my own aging. While I’m not against young people becoming parents, I do have issues with any parent who subjects their children to inappropriate behavior, or puts them in danger.
First, I saw one family arrive in their mini van. The guy driving appeared to be very young. He was smoking a cigarette in the van, and the family sat in the van for a few minutes after parking near the playground. In my head, I started scolding this guy for exposing his kids to second-hand smoke. The family finally emerged from the van, got all four kids and their bicycles out, and started playing. Here I was, judging this young, smoking father, when I had no idea how great he was going to look by the end of the afternoon.
A little later, a group of people arrived. There were 2 or 3 young women, several children, and a young man or two who all seemed to know each other. It wasn’t clear whose kids were whose, but they all seemed to be having fun. Then, a young man arrived, and started yelling at one of the young women. When I say young, I mean maybe early 20’s. This “gentleman” managed to scream more foul language at this woman in a few minutes than I think I’ve uttered in my entire life! He just wouldn’t give it up! She started yelling right back at him, and didn’t spare any language for the sake of the children. As the yelling escalated, I started to worry about how the children were weathering this episode. What role models these young people were!
It wasn’t bad enough that they were angry, yelling and cursing in front of the children. The drama was topped off by him hitting her, and her getting in her van and speeding off. But she rounded the block, and came back for more. There was a bit more yelling, and then she sped off a second time. Then he spent some time pacing around, talking on his cell phone. I guessed that he might be talking to her, begging her to come back, most likely. Then he and his friends got the kids together, packed the smallest one in her stroller, and walked off into the sunset.
It’s sad to see how irresponsible some young parents can be. What will those children remember about the day spent with their family at the playground? Now you see why the smoking father, in comparison, looks like Father of the Year!
On a side note, my neighbor called the police during this altercation, but they said they couldn’t really do anything about the situation, unless “something happened.” I have to wonder what might have had to happen for the police to drive by and check on things. It’s bad enough that these dramas have to play out on occasion, but it’s far worse when law enforcement treats it as no big deal.
Oh, and by the way, Happy Mother’s Day!