Randumb Gambitches #4

Off-Leash Families

Crotch Goblins. This is how a friend of mine referred to the children of one of her friends. Now that I think about it, I think she told me that’s what her friend calls her very own kids.

Regardless, I can’t unhear it or unthink it now.

Crotch Goblins. How delightfully graphic. It’s also malleable enough to be mistaken for an affectionate nickname. Entirely unlike the nick that I’ve used for kids for decades: STDs.

Whatever you call them, I’d just like to share what is apparently uncommon knowledge with parents everywhere: leave them in the suburbs, will you? I live in the city so I generally only have to deal with people’s progeny once they’ve at least reached a legal drinking age. I still have no use for them at that point, but at least I can drink around them (to make them more tolerable) without feeling like I’m ginfluencing them.

I’m tired of coming across these entire families where none should be. I accept the fact that because of our current houseless problems in Portland, I have to engage in the mental exercise of judging whether the sidewalk excrement I encounter is the result of a lazy human or a homeless human. That’s really all the concession I care to make regarding my urban life extras.

When people bring their children into this environment, it’s unnecessarily taxing to grumpy old Xtopher. First, I have to weigh whether the parents are selfishly dragging their kids along on an urban adventure they wanted to indulge in but we’re too cheap to pay a sitter for or if they are simply bad parents all-around. Bright side: I would never know or even think about it if they’d just left the kids in the subs. Y’know? This is hard to have a “one rule fits all” point of view on since the Oregon Zoo is walkable from my home downtown, same with OMSI (the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry), which is a frequent field trip destination for the area schools.

Fun Fact, if you’ve ever seen this film:

Then you’ve seen one of OMSI’s main attractions:

But I’ve drifted slightly off topic, I’m just showing you that I know that the People’s Republic of Portland has some built in “fun for the whole family” allure.

However, that does not extend to my breakfasts with the parents. I am the appropriate age child for parents to bring to town. When my mother shushed my cursing at breakfast this morning and reminded me of the destination for the plate of waffles – a child accompanied by three adults at the table behind me – that prompted me to say “That meal is an open invitation for fucking diabetes!”, well…that was too much.

With the exact amount of contrition the situation warranted, I pivoted to “Fine, ducking diabetes! But if they are so concerned for the well being of their Crotch Goblin, maybe don’t bring them to a dive restaurant that is literally alongside the railroad tracks down by the river.”

Am I being unreasonable here? I mean, the guy at the other table behind me finished a beer as I was walking in, ordered another as I sat down and a couple sips later, executed an admirable three-point turn on his scooter so he could go out and smoke a couple ciggies before his breakfast came. This is where top-tier parents choose to bring their precious child?

Then, when they left, the foursome completely blocked off the aisle between tables while they failed at putting their jackets on, completely trapping a server who had gone to drop off food at the next table over. What should have been a 20-second task turned into something like trapping an opossum in a cat carrier. The look of panic and deceleration in this poor server’s eyes. The mother was completely unaware of how her “nurturing” was negatively affecting those around her or how it would likely impact people for years and decades to come because she’d just taught her kid that the world can wait for her to get her shit together. I’ve never hoped that someone end up in a “put your own air mask on first” scenario, but now I can check that off my never have I ever list. But you know this family would fail that simple set of instructions.

Sorry, I might care more about the well-being of your offspring than you do, but I will only demonstrate it at the ballot box. If you bring them within my verbal splash zone, don’t expect the water to be filtered.

Likewise, if you bring your family of four into town, you need to manage that situation. People walking their dogs in an urban environment have to leash their fur babies. I’m not suggesting you leash children, but in the last week I’ve had to navigate a sidewalk with one too many family hazards – the correct amount is zero – twice and I’m kind of done with it.

The aforementioned dog owners? Fine – and they usually have their dogs trained to walk beside them, or at least are present enough to their dog’s behaviors to be able to follow their fur baby to whichever side of the sidewalk their nose drags them. I rarely see a dog sniffing out the latest pupdates on a tree or light post on one side of a sidewalk while their owner stands oblivious on the other side of the sidewalk waiting with the leash cordoning off the throughway.

Honestly, with dogs on s sidewalk, the biggest hazard are the people who have to stop and pet them and ask them “who’s a good boy?”. Why? Because their hit of unconditional love costs everyone around them free access to a sidewalk. Can you be needy elsewhere, please?

Speaking of a group usually referred to as “needy”, then there’s “the least among us”. Those poor – usually drug addled – folks who reside on the city streets. The Urban Campers. They’re a blight and a reason to exercise gratitude simultaneously because it could happen to any of us. For them, I will tolerate the oblivion that makes their existence tolerable to them. They don’t literally bother me – aside from the mental game I mentioned earlier – so I forgive their disruptive presence.

But these fucking families navigating sidewalks and crosswalks? Pass.

At their best they can manage an organized excursion, albeit at a glacial pace. I’ve seen it, but it’s truly rare. Usually, the best I can hope for is a chaotic form of forward progress. The entire family scattered across the sidewalk traveling at different velocities and, to the casual observer, completely unaware of one another.

This would never have flown in my family. My mother did not just develop an interest in how her child’s behavior affected those around her this morning. No, I was raised with that same consideration. My parents kept me on one side of the sidewalk so we weren’t in the way of other pedestrians. There was certainly none of this laissez-faire parenting that results in enough distance between family members on a sidewalk to mistake them for strangers.

Mind you, now I’m an adult, so I can decide on my own whether some Stupid American warrants my consideration or not. A not-shocking amount of those people do not. That’s a fair middle ground, too, when dealing with me: overt disregard. When it comes to managing my own behaviors, if I’m changing them for a setting, the last thing you likely want is me sharing my opinion on your presence. Maybe you brought your Crotch Goblins into town to learn about life, get some culture. You probably aren’t expecting or open to my hot take about your parenting style or whether you are fit for the job in my estimation.

I told you that my overt disregard of your family was a good result. But, seriously, do everyone a favor and leave the kids at home if they can’t behave as well as a dog on a city sidewalk. Easy-peasy.

Randumb Gambitches #4

7 thoughts on “Randumb Gambitches #4

  1. Oh, my Dog! What a brilliant rant – I wish I had written it. I often compose such vitriol in my head, but also having been raised by a mother who inculcated consideration for others, my ability to articulate has been stunted. “If you can’t say something nice…” was drummed into my always revolutionary brain. You hit a nerve with the “who’s a good boy”. People always ask if they may pet my inordinately well-behaved dogs. I always suggest they ask THEM.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My wife and I had been together for seven years before we had kids. We did a lot of traveling during that time and were astounded at how many parents traveled with kids still in diapers to places like the Smithsonian museums and amusement parks. Like they were going to remember anything about the experience. Parents and kids alike did not seem to be having fun but they sure made things miserable for others. Some trips are necessary, of course, for certain family circumstances. But we made a vow never to take young children on big outings until they were older. So our three boys were deprived. We finally took them to Disneyland when they were 8-13 years old.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you tap danced on the grave of the issue, my friend: selfish parents.
      Who can judge them, though? Are they acting out in a form of rebellion to those that programmed them into parental servitude, or is it something else? For the 50-and-over parents, I’d say that’s the case. For the younger generations? I suspect it’s more owning a childhood their working parents couldn’t provide or sync up to make happen.
      But on that note…
      At worst, kids be damned, they’re doing something they always wanted to.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think parents have a blind spot only about their own kids, thinking the whole world welcomes their intrusions as much as they do. My wife and I have always been especially suspect because we have three sons and never had pets of any kind even though our combined nine siblings are all big time pet people. Our three boys are all married but have tested all the combinations: (1) no kids, no pets; (2) kids, no pets; (3) kids, pets.

    Liked by 1 person

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