Mommy Don't Play That

Part writing exercise (cause I just write for writing’s sake sometimes.) Part blog. I edit a monthly essay for work that always gets bumped back to me for revisions. Frankly, I’m not used to being edited so hard. I’m learning a lot. But fuck if growth isn’t hard. You’re just going to have to read more randomness as I intentionally practice more at putting jumbled thoughts into cohesive expressions.

Oh, and I now believe in shooting Stars.

I was in the nail shop around the corner earlier getting did right for the week. It was pretty empty—just me, a Jewish woman and her two kids—appx. 3 and 2—and the staff, 3 Hispanic ladies and the Asian owner. The Jewish lady was on her cell phone and her kids were roaming free. The older one went to use the bathroom, then complained she couldn’t wash her hands. The mom paused the call to ask the owner to turn the facet on for her. Then the little girls came to stand right up on the woman doing my pedicure. All up and invading the woman’s space—and her ability to focus on my feet (which after 3 weeks with no pedicure were jacked!) I finally, very nicely, told the oldest girl that she should go sit next to Mommy because Mommy missed her. The woman was oblivious to all of this. The oldest one tells me no(!), but then I add some bass and some firmness to my voice and the little girls finally leave. They wander around the shop knocking shit over, which one of the Hispanic ladies cleans up. Then they wander to the front of the store. Mom= oblivious.

I speak functional Spanish, but not enough to say ‘this bitch is tripping.’ However, facial expressions are near universal and that was enough for me and the Hispanic ladies to have a mutual chuckle at how recklessly absent this woman was in paying attention to her kids.

I tried to go back to reading my magazine, but I couldn’t. (When the hell did I start getting protective of kids? Is my biological clock ticking?) There are a host of dangers that kids can get into in a nail shop and well… I felt like I needed to make sure they didn’t harm themselves. It’s not their fault their mother isn’t raising them right or paying attention. When I look up, the 2 year old is playing in the trash can (germs!!!!) and the older child is pulling on the door to get outside the shop (danger!!!). The mother still hasn’t noticed.

No one else in the shop speaks enough English to alert the woman to her gross errors in parenting, so I take it upon myself to yell at her loud enough to interrupt her phone call. “Excuse me, Miss! You need to watch out for your kids!” I point to the door that the older child is still holding open while she stares at the Black lady yelling at her Mom. The younger one is elbow deep in trash and unfazed by my shouting.

Mom beckons the kids over by offering chocolate (yes, let’s reward bad behavior. No need to wipe your filthy hands, little one.) They pay her no mind. Maybe the fifth time she says something, they walk over for a treat. They eat, are momentarily still and silent, then go back to their antics. Mom never does end her call.

The littlest one climbs on a chair near where the polishes are displayed. She’s grabbing at them, using the plastic display case for leverage. The older one is sitting next to her flipping through nail magazines. Mom is all into her call. Still. I try to ignore them. I mean these are her fucking kids; I’m not a gotdamnned nanny. If she doesn’t care about the safety of her kids, why should I? Because they are kids and they don’t know any better. She’s curious. Not bad. Just has no home training. It’s not her fault her mother’s an idiot.

I get a vision of that display case giving way, and a 2-year-old tumbling off a chair and onto the wood floor head first and broken glass and nail polish everywhere. So I yell for the mother again. (My logic is not yelling at them is that if I can get the Mom to show some act right, then maybe she will learn some. It all goes back to feeding a man a fish and teaching a man to fish. Think on it.) I stop myself from shouting rather demeaning, “hey Lady” and go for another, “Miss! Your daughter!” and point. She looks at me in the mirror like I am annoying her by saving her baby girl from busting her head wide open.

More chocolate for the kiddies. Yes, let’s feed hyperactive mofos (yes, I just called kids mofos) more sugar. This woman needs a damn parenting book. Or at least some common sense. I can’t help, but to say, “Are you fucking kidding me?” outloud. The woman scraping my heels laughs. Evidently she understands more English than I thought. Or maybe she got the tone and didn’t need the translation. The other two women are just shaking their heads. The owner has put us all on ignore. I’d be lying if said there wasn’t a part of me that wishes I should have just let the child fall. Then Mom might have learned her a lesson. But what a thing to do to a kid just to spite the Mom.

I think about what my Mom would have done if I did that. I can’t even picture it. She never would have let me get that out of hand. I would have been sat in a chair next to her with a toy and it would have been made clear that I was not to move and I was to be quiet. When I tried to get up, cause I know I would have, I would have been stopped in my tracks. Mommy didn’t play that.

The woman never made her kids sit still, just like she never got off the phone. When she left the shop, I was relived. And then I sent up a prayer for God to watch over her babies. Someone needs to.