Being a Bad Parent — continued


People don't always notice signs.

I’ve had some people ask me about my last post. They want to know what set me off. Was it something specific or was I just railing against the general inability of some people to parent. Well, my post about poor parents actually DOES have its roots in a specific local family dynamic. Now I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by naming names, so let’s call them, oh, I don’t know — my next door neighbors. The ones on the right hand side as one looks at our home. The ones with the blue car with the duct tape and plastic tarp side window. And the pile of trash on the back porch. And the yard strewn with debris. You get the idea.

These people do not look after their kids! Gentle readers, I don’t live in DisneyWorld. This is a lower middle class / upper working class “mobile home subdivision”, basically a trailer park but we have to take the tongues and wheels off the trailers and we don’t rent the spaces. Kids NEED to be watched after around here.

What makes matters worse is this is a particularly FERTILE couple. Is it just me or has anyone else noticed how the lower down on the intellectual level one goes in the animal kingdom the more offspring a given pair of animals produces? For instance, dolphins are super smart. Dolphins have ONE pup at a time. Two is a rarity. Frogs, though? Frogs will NEVER top anyone’s list of Einsteinesque fauna and they have THOUSANDS of offspring at once. The reason is obvious — the dumber the animal, the more offspring that are needed to ensure the species survives.

They are working on that principle right next door.

Happens WAY too much.

This woman has FOUR kids. The oldest two are both in the FIRST GRADE. They are only 10 months apart in age, and get this — they have different daddies! Let THAT math keep you up at night. These kids are 6 almost 7, barely 6, four, and two years old. The oldest is a girl and the rest are carbon copy boys.

Do these people not know what a TELEVISION is?

Anyway, they have this slew of kids. The dad lost his job in the downturn two years ago so he’s been working about six part-time jobs. I’m not sure if he works so much for the money or if he just wants to stay away from home. I know which one I’D pick. The mom stays at home with the brood until dad gets home at which point she takes the car to her job at McDonalds. I’d be worried about them financially, but when she was big as a barrel with the two-year-old she told Budge and me they were in good shape because of WIC, food stamps, and about six other government programs.

Now up to this point, you might think I’m just cracking on some poor white trash in an attempt to get blog hits. You couldn’t be more wrong. First of all, I hesitate to call anyone white trash. Too many members of my family have been branded with that particular moniker over the years for me to toss such a label around lightly. More than that though is the fact that I’ve seen other families in similar states be adoring and careful parents and raise some amazing kids.

No, I’m cracking on this bunch because of the UPS truck.

I was straightening up the house about a week ago when I heard a LARGE vehicle LOCK DOWN on the brakes. I looked up to see the four-year old staring at the grille of the Big Brown Truck. I know this UPS driver and he’s not an excessive speed demon. If he’d been traveling two miles an hour faster, that kid would have been road kill.

Just a matter of time?

If that was a one time deal, I wouldn’t be going to the trouble of writing this, but that kind of thing is the RULE in their house, not the exception. The three oldest kids stay outside from the time school lets out until dark. They have NO IDEA what it means to look before crossing a road. To date, besides the UPS truck, two school buses, the Charter guy, the water meter guy, and at least six cars that I have seen have nearly wrung the brake pads off the front of their cars trying to keep from turning one of these chaps into a human speed bump. They NEVER look where they are going. I’ve told Budge that it is just a matter of time before someone can’t make a last second stop and that’s going to be terrible.

I used to never lock my gates. Now I do because these kids have no concept of “that’s not yours.” It’s nothing for them to go across my yard — which I really DON’T mind — and get out toys belonging to my OTHER neighbors’ GOOD child and start playing with them even if no one there is home! I can’t imagine how long I’d have been stuck inside if my mama had caught me doing such!

Let me be clear though — it’s NOT THE KIDS’ FAULT.

Too late to watch over them now.

If a six, five, or four-year old child doesn’t know how to behave, it is not his fault. It is the PARENTS’ fault. Children are just that — children. By definition they are ignorant of most dangers, evils, and pitfalls and thank God they are. The horrible state of the world will catch up to them soon enough. Until then, though, it is up to MAMA and DADDY to RAISE them and that requires a little something called WORK.

Now I’ve seen a child run out in front of a car before, but every other time it was because he wasn’t listening to THE ADULT STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO HIM. The adult is attempting to provide a safe transit from store to car and the child isn’t listening. Most of the times I’ve seen this happen, Mama or Daddy will reinforce the lesson of the near tragedy by a vigorous application of the Board of Education to the Seat of Understanding just as soon as everyone reaches the car.

Not this family.

No one is watching these kids. We live on the busiest street in our neighborhood and Mom is nowhere to be found unless she happens out onto the porch to smoke. Granny wouldn’t let me play in the FRONT YARD of her and Papa’s house and they lived on a street full of nothing but old people in the quietest neighborhood in Fountain Inn. If I GOT ran over it would be due to Mrs. Johnson losing control of her power scooter and tearing through the wisteria bordering the back yard. Otherwise, I was safer than the gold in Fort Knox. Plus, this was in the pre-Adam Walsh days when we kids didn’t know strangers would kill us. Someone in a van could pull up, offer these kids next door candy, snatch them into the vehicle and be gone and it would be suppertime before Mom even noticed they were gone. That’s insane!

I don't want this scene in front of my home. Children deserve better caretakers.

If anyone is looking out for these kids, it’s ONE little girl who is about ten and seems to be the natural “mothering type”.

You haven’t seen irony until you see a ten-year-old berating a four-year old at top volume like R. Lee Ermey on crack because the kid didn’t look before crossing the street. If it wasn’t for though, these kids would be as rudderless as a capsized canoe in a whitewater whirlpool. I for one think the child deserves a medal.


I am at a loss to know what to do. As a final thought, if one of the kids DOES get hurt, I’LL have to call 911 because THEY don’t have a phone. Correction, they have a cell phone, but instead of leaving it at home in case — I don’t know — the two-year old swallowed something and needed an ambulance, Daddy takes it with him on his “rounds.”

Talk about priorities?!

Any thoughts on this comedy of errors? I’m open to suggestions!

Take care, y’all and keep those feet clean.

3 responses »

  1. I see these types of families where I live. A LOT of them. On the other end of the spectrum, however, there are wealthy families with lots of kids who don’t care what their kids do because they feel like they’re entitled or some other nonsense. Good and bad parents come in all shapes, sizes and tax brackets.

    • You know, Lynn, you’re right. I think what I meant, but what didn’t come across at all is the idea that ignorant people seem to have larger numbers of children. I don’t know why, but folks like the bunch next door act like they abhor any form of birth control. I don’t know if it’s lack of education, just don’t care, or what. You are correct, however, to point that out to me. Had I thought about it a bit more, several very intelligent and well-educated couples I know have three, four, or even five children. Of course, they are actively raising those children as well rather than just providing a bed and some food of a sort. I’m very sorry if I offended you or anyone else. It was not my intent.

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