I was in Ikea on Saturday night, about 8:45 pm.

There was a mother with 2 small children (the oldest might have been 4). The children were running wild. I mean wild. They had those little carts and the kids were running around the sofa area and the end table area and the lamp area and the shelving area. They were running the carts into things, climbing on the end tables, leaving their carts in the middle of the aisles, bouncing on the sofa’s.

I stopped, after the small child very nearly bowled me over by running into me, and glared at the mother.

I should tell you, I have a very fierce glare. People tell me that my glare absolutely withers. I mean it. So I stopped and glared at the mother, for probably a full minute.

She looked back at me and demanded to know what the dirty look was for.

You know what I miss? I miss when parenthood was a full time job, and its job description involved words like duty and obligation and sacrifice. I miss when parents had some idea that there was an appropriate time and place for things like Ikea, and that time and place wasn’t an hour after your kids should have been in bed.

I miss a world that kids didn’t get to climb on furniture and mow shoppers down because that wasn’t polite or appropriate, and even at 4 years of age this was made clear to you. I miss a time when parents would have picked up those children and  taken them home and put them to bed because they were tired and we all understood that the appropriate place for a very small child at 9 pm was bed.

I miss a time when we understood that you didn’t drag kids around like a yuppie enhancement: accessorizing motherhood with lulu lemon yoga pants and an organic hemp carrier bag; fitting children into scant time carved out before you go for the soy latte and after you do yoga. I wish we still lived in a time when kids were allowed to be kids and we all understood they are small people who need things like regular bed times and rules to grow into happy adults.

I wish we allowed kids to be kids, and we understood that shopping for a sofa is not interesting when you are 4, and it’s really not interesting when you are tired and overstimulated. I wish we didn’t ask children to be mini adults, because we couldn’t fit time into our oh-so important lives for them to be children.

Mostly I miss a time when you got a glare and your realized that your kids weren’t bad kids, they acting the way kids act at almost 9 pm; but you were not doing your best job as a parent, and you were to blame for this mess. I miss a time when you stood up and took your lumps, and then you took those poor munchkins home, and you got them ready for a bath and you read them a story and you put them to bed, and then maybe you did some thinking about your wants and your kids’ very real need, and the fact that as the adult, you were the one that sacrificed to meet needs over wants.

In the end my shins will survive. The Ikea furniture will survive.

Lady, I’m giving you a dirty look because your poor wee kids really need you to stand up and be the adult in the situation. They need you to actually actively parent them – because that’s how they thrive.


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12 Responses to /Rant

  1. Shelley says:

    Yes! Oh, yes!

  2. Kuri says:

    Also, Ikea has a supervised play area for children specifically so that parents can shop without having their kids run wild in the shop, does it not?

  3. Brown Owl says:

    Three cheers and well put! Totally agree.

  4. loribeth says:

    (standing & applauding) Well ranted, Mrs. Spit!

    As a corollary to your list, I miss a time when parents used babysitters when they wanted to go out to socialize or to run lengthy errands that weren’t particularly child-friendly (like sofa shopping). I remember being on a scrapbooking message board several years ago, & someone was highly offended because their children weren’t included in a wedding invitation. This evolved into a discussion about leaving your children with babysitters. I was kind of shocked by how many of these women said there was no way, under any circumstances, that they would leave their children in someone else’s care (including, for some of them, their own family members). I mean, I know babysitters are hard to come by AND charge an arm & leg these days when you can get them — but I also know what lifesavers they can be for a parent. My mother did not have family around her when we were growing up, and my sister & I almost always had a blast with our babysitters — teenaged girls paying attention to us and bringing over their Dave Clark Five albums for us to listen to. ; ) (The ones we didn’t like usually didn’t last very long.)

  5. loribeth says:

    @Kuri: I know some parents are paranoid about the germ factor with the IKEA ballpit. :p

  6. Veronica says:

    You should ask if IKEA will publish your rant under their “ENTRANCE”
    Oh.. and COSTCO too…

  7. a says:

    My parents would barely take us to the grocery store! I took my daughter to the furniture store the other day, and she had a grand time sitting in all the chairs and trying out the beds (which I was doing too). And when she got overexcited and tried hopping from chair to chair, she got in trouble. And if she got in people’s way, I grabbed her and made her stop. Because that’s polite. And then I apologized to whomever I thought might be offended. (Except the sales people, because they were kind of pushy) No one seems to have manners any more. I don’t always do the best job in keeping my child under control, but you’d better believe we are always home at bed time, which is 8 pm.

    On the plus side, I am rarely out and about to experience this sort of botheration…

  8. HereWeGoAJen says:

    Gah. I do not allow children in my care to behave like this.

  9. Em says:

    We were in Canadian Tire the other day and I was making a return. My kids were nuts! Hanging on the handlerails and making lots of noise (this was at 10am). This man comes in with a really well behaved dog and I told my 6 yo that the dog was better behaved than he was and to chill. He totally did. Victory for me! They were still a rather busy lot but they did settle down…the oldest kid has so much power!

  10. Debby says:

    I hate that a lot of parents seem to have taken up the idea that parenting is a spectator sport.

  11. Sharon says:

    Thank you! I sent a link to this post to my grown daughter. We talk about this on a regular basis and shake our heads as to why this behavior has become acceptable in one short generation. I have no grandchildren yet, but if I ever do my children have all expressed very strong ideas about how their kids will behave in public or be removed from such. They expect me to be there to back them up ~

  12. Alannah says:

    Mrs. Spit, you’re lovely. This is how I strive to parent my child (in between working full-time, which often breaks my heart). Reading this actually made me think of Honest Toddler. Have you encountered HT?

    HT might make you cry. He has made me cry many times. But he has made me laugh many more times. You might find him worth reading. http://www.thehonesttoddler.com.

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