Updated: May 4, 2022
The other day, I was at a block party, talking to a person I only see once a year or so. She’s very pleasant, and we were just chatting when her daughters came up and demanded the car keys, which she didn’t have.
Without going into details, suffice it to say that the resulting exchange demonstrated these girls, both older than sixteen, to be the rudest, nastiest girls I’ve ever encountered. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them. I felt so bad for their mother for A) having to live with them; B) being humiliated in public by them; and C) having raised them in such a way that they felt this was okay. Their disgust for her, their lack of respect, and what even seemed like hatred was just horrible to witness. These girls were not sullen or hormonal or sassy—they were cruel. Nasty, careless and snotty. In my experience, their parents are not any of those things. They’ve always seemed quite nice, but the girls have long had a reputation as being utterly horrible.
Had they been my children, I would’ve taken their phones, tossed them in the pond, told them they could walk home, kicked them out of my house and stopped paying college tuition. I recognize that the girls talked that way because they knew they could get away with it, which is sad and distressing. What kind of people will they be in society when they treat their own mother that way? Crappy people, that’s what.
Mostly, I felt like hugging the mom. “I’m sorry your daughters are so hateful and horrible,” I wanted to say. “I’m sure you did your best. This must hurt so much.”
McIrish and I have been blessed with our kids. We know that. They have an innate goodness, and we poured our hearts into raising them to be decent, kind people. However it happened, luck or hard work or both, it worked. They are good people, working to make the world better.
But I know more than one parent who has to deal with a wretched child, who is confounded by what to do now, who apologizes for their kids, who feels helpless and humiliated and ashamed. A parent who did their best, who maybe didn’t have the tools or knowledge to rein that kid in when it would’ve done some good.
It’s so sad. When you give birth or adopt your baby, when you cuddle them close and read them books, you never imagine the day that they’d break your heart without so much as a second glance.