Thursday, September 15, 2011

how serial killers get their names

People in glasshouses are idiots when they start throwing rocks.

The saying goes something like that anyway, but ultimately the point is the same. I am not perfect, so its rare I throw judgement around. Especially about parenting. We are all blindly fumbling through this role that carries more responsibility than anything else in life and trying to act like we know what we're doing while not giving our children therapist couch fodder.

But sometimes, sometimes, you see something that you just can't help yourself but think maybe, just maybe, that person is even worse at this parenting gig than I am.

Case in point, Thing 1's swim practice.

Every week I dutifully take him to practice, and every week there is one particular family that provides the rest of us plenty of mouth dropping moments and times where we all pretend to be coughing rather than laughing. But this past week was a doozy.

Now Brian* and his mom are usually entertainment in that she is desperately trying to keep Brian as a baby even though he is about four now. Usually Brian is pretty obliging with this baby thing, even the week when she announced quite loudly that she had to come to the bathroom so she could "wipey your heiney" and help him. Brian's older brother has swim lessons while Thing 1 is at practice, so for 30 minutes I am a prisoner of circumstance. Brian often provides entertainment, but sometimes its entertainment in the same way nails on a chalkboard make pleasant music.

There was an older kid there (like 8ish) this week and I have no idea who he belonged to. He was just there, and he was actually a pretty well behaved kid. Its not his fault that he is apparently Brian-crack. Seriously, dunno what it was about this child, but the normally just obnoxious babyish Brian was in warp speed. He was running around, screaming, climbing stuff, trying to watch videos on other people's iPads (I am seriously the only person there without one) all while screaming "Look at me David!!!"**

Now while Brian is bouncing off the walls and annoying the crap outta the rest of us his mom is chanting in a sickeningly sing song voice "Gentle, Brian. Gentle." I remember thinking something along the lines of wanting to gently slam into her a few times like her little barbarian had me twice already. But I reminded myself, I am not a judgmental parent. I am not. I don't look down my nose at other parents. Hell, I am a mom of two boybarians, it would be pretty hypocritical to judge someone else I am sure.

About half way through swim I am grinding my teeth to the mental tune of "I am not a judgmental parent, I don't judge other people for how they chose to parent" mixed with shades of "Gentle, Brian. Gentle" in sing song tones with sweet little Brian screaming at the top of his sweet little lungs.

Brian tries to climb a shelving unit and mom comes over and plucks the now screaming Brian off of the shelves saying "Can you please not do that Brian?" When he scales the Everest shelves immediately after being set down she again asks him to behave and could he please lower his voice? Are we really asking him to not climb a dangerous shelf? Are we really asking him to lower his voice so the rest of us stop bleeding from our ears?

The tops of my teeth are nearly as smooth as glass from the grinding I am doing all while reminding myself that "I am not a judgmental parent, I don't judge other people for how they chose to parent" and Cindy-Lou Who (who just happened to be with me that day) and Thing 2 are both looking ready to duct tape sweet little Brian's mouth shut.

Brian also was bored with this routine though, because it was at this point the fan hitting ensued.

After running away from mom again Brain stopped and took a wide stance with his hands at chest level. He positioned his hands so that the strangely looked a bit like he was holding an uzi.

He then proceeded to blast David away with one big boom. David even paused here, and when you make an 8 year old stop and say "hmmmm" ya know you have accomplished something.

He then moved to mom, he blasted her with his invisible uzi. Twice.

"Gentle, Brian. Gentle."

Gentle? Gentle?! Your kid is pretending to bring the heat and you are telling him to be gentle?! Okay, deep breath, I remind myself that "I am not a judgmental parent, I don't judge other people for how they chose to parent." I know that not every family has the same gun stance we do -- namely that they aren't toys but rather a first amendment protecting my family right. But never toys. Never something to pretend with or play with. My children never have, and never will have "toy" guns, even of the spray variety.

But that is my choice as a parent. Mine.

But Brian interrupts my self admonishing thoughts when he steps in front of the little cluster of chairs that sit before the glass wall leading to the pool. Me and about five other families are sitting here, all of us trying to ignore Brian.

Brian proceeds to, quite authentically looking I might add, re-load his imaginary weapon all while glaring at all of us.

"Chick-chick" he says by way of preparing to fire.

Machine gun style, he swings his imaginary gun back and forth, peppering all of the parents and siblings with imaginary bullets. And sweet little Brian proceeds to make sound affects to match the volley of repeated fire he is imagining unleashing on me and about 15 others. After about 5 swings he stops, pretends to hold his gun up in the air in a victory pose while throwing his head back and letting out a massively creepy, maniacal laugh.

"Oh gentle, Brian. Gentle, please."

Seriously? You kid just imagined butchering all of us and all you've got is "gentle" while sounding like Snow White?! Screw this I am not a judgmental parent stuff, your child is practicing murdering people and you are asking him to be gentle? This would be an appropriate thing to say if Brian were, say, carrying a glass of water or wanting to pet a puppy. It is not the thing to say when your kid imagines blasting innocent victims away.

So Brain does the only logical thing he can do. He screams "NO!" and pretends to shoot his mom. In fact, he empties an imaginary clip into her.

And what did she have to say to that?

Can you please be gentle Brain?

Its not easy to render me speechless. But she did. I realized my mouth was hanging open and I was staring at her in shock when I noticed other parents doing the same out of the corner of my eye. Too floored to say anything, and seeing that Thing 1 was heading for the locker room and I would be leaving soon, I started packing my brood up and getting ready to leave. All the while sweet little Brian was standing on chairs and moving around the room still pretending to shoot at things and people. All the while, his mom chanted "Gentle, Brian. Gentle." in the same sing song voice, never once stepping in to actually parent him.

On the drive home I actually had "Gentle Brian, Gentle." stuck in my head. And my thoughts got carried away, as they often do, about the type of person Brian would grow up to be. Chances are he will be a perfectly normal, law abiding, well rounded citizen. A stand-up guy, great man, the type of dude who donates to charities, serves food at the shelter on Christmas, and always picks up litter. But ... if that dark side we saw at swim comes out ...

Well if you ever hear about a serial killer going by the name of Gentle Brain, you'll know who it is.

*Changed his name so the crazy little twerp can't come find me when he is a psycho adult.
**Changed his name because its not his fault that he is Brian-crack, he didn't mean for it to happen.

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