A few days ago, I was shopping at Home Depot and randomly mentioned to my husband that we should buy one of the scary "window creeper" display decorations for Halloween. The "creeper" dangles in front of your window, and it's quite realistic, if you're hoping to freak out your neighbors, children, and loved ones. Little did I know, until I was searching Google for examples of decorations parents have complained about for this very column, the 'Scary Peeper Creeper' has been pulled from Home Depot shelves in Canada after a mom "failed to see the humour in it" and asserted that “it makes light of a very serious crime. Voyeurism is a crime in Canada.” Alas, we've officially reached that special time of year when kids get freaked out by ghoulish decorations, and parents raise their voices in the hopes of banning them. Shows like 'The Walking Dead' have inspired some seriously fucked up decorations in recent years, and I've actually found myself sympathizing more with parents as I read about items like "rat-eating zombie masks" being set up next to the checkout registers in grocery stores. And while I'm a huge appreciator of frightening lawn decorations and over-the-top house displays, I can also *sort of* appreciate that some parents aren't fans of "corpses" hanging from trees or impaled dolls sticking up from the ground, especially if the house is in a school zone. But the question for me isn't, "Should someone have to take down their yard decorations because it's upsetting for local parents and kids?", because the answer to that is easy: No. Instead, my question is more along the lines of, "Should parents even ask for special treatment in the first place?"
Special treatment and entitlement are subjects I'm fascinated with, because in real life I'm one of those semi-apologetic people who never thinks I should be a priority over someone else. I'm not necessarily giving up my place in line to every old lady standing behind me, but I don't expect the world to bend to my demands, or even to my polite requests. I don't think that makes me better than anyone else, though; if anything, I'm impressed with people who glide through life like they deserve things, because a lot of the time, they get what they want just by asking or making a fuss. And a lot of people are of the mind that "there's no harm in asking," even if the question is, by most people's definition, coming from a place of entitlement. I once had a college roommate who tried to back out of paying for her share of the utilities, and when the other roommates gently told her that it wasn't okay, she replied, "Well, it never hurts to ask!" No, it doesn't HURT to ask, I suppose, but it's annoying nonetheless.
I was contemplating this earlier this week after I tweeted an email screenshot someone sent me a while back that I discovered in my inbox. I wasn't aiming to rake this mom over the coals, but it hadn't really occurred to me that some people would wonder why I posted it at all. I was surprised by the responses I got saying the mom was perfectly polite, so what's the big deal? Her kid is triggered by a beloved song from 1961 and she wants the shopping center manager to see about removing it from the center's playlist forever -- SO WHAT? A number of people bluntly told me that she wasn't being demanding and therefore wasn't being entitled. "What's the harm in asking?", they all said.
Granted, I don't disagree that this mom sounds polite, and she's not being aggressively demanding. But is she still entitled? After all, what is entitlement if not to say, "My son's mental health is more important than your customers' enjoyment of a song"? If the song in question was offensive, sexist, and racist, I might agree. But in this case, the request -- aside from being entertaining just for being odd, which is why I posted the screenshot -- is about a song that does no damage to anyone but her child, and yet her response is to ask management to remove the song, rather than find a way to help her son cope with his "pallid breath-inducing" crutch. I think for most people, the answer would be to modify their own behavior, perhaps by bringing headphones for the toddler, shopping online or elsewhere (though the song could be playing anywhere!), or not bringing him along until he's able to hear the song without panicking. But to this mom, the solution involved drafting a letter to management and making an easy, yet specific, request that would not really solve the problem longterm.
Regardless of whether or not it solved the problem, though, my immediate reaction was to think, "Okay, but what happens if someone else hears about this special provision being made and asks Westfield Strathpine to remove songs from the playlist that trigger THEIR kid? What if another parent's child loses his shit every time an Adele song comes on, and the parents can't deal with that while they're picking out produce? Then what?" Is it better to accommodate a customer's bizarre request, or treat everyone equally and not make exceptions? I ask this sincerely because I'm all for flexible policies and helping people out when they need it. However, does this mother's request fit that scope? How about this one?
I've received many examples of "polite requests" that I would file under "Typical Parental Entitlement," so I don't tend to budge easily from my stance that no one deserves special treatment unless there are special circumstances, like a child in a wheelchair who wants to sit on Santa's lap. Usually the examples I get serve to remind me that there are a lot of people in the world who believe they do deserve to be treated differently -- or should be allowed to act differently -- than everyone else simply because they've asserted themselves or "made a polite request." I fundamentally disagree with that idea, and it's for that reason that I can't just let 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' mom off the hook (though in fairness, she sent a nice email and didn't just post a rant on social media).
"My two kids could have easily blended in and played a round of golf and we would have appreciated the customer service." TRANSLATION: When you didn't accommodate my polite request, despite the fact that a sign told us to come back another time, it disappointed me to the extent that I had to write this post on Facebook. Thanks for nothing. My kids deserve to play mini golf, too. #injustice #poorjudgment" This is the kind of parent who makes me wonder what HE would have wanted Putting Edge to do if HE had rented the place out for HIS kid's birthday party. Something tells me he wouldn't have liked it, but I suppose we'll never know.
Ahhh, more parking lot drama. I will never get enough of it. One minute a parent is pissed off because another car is parked "too closely" within the lines, the next minute a parent is telling a random woman to chill the fuck out because his toddler is making his way to karate and parking isn't an option. Gotta love those nonsensical double standards. And while we're on the subject of parents and special privileges when driving, would it be possible for ME to make a request? I know I don't have a baby and I'm not feeling triggered right now, but can moms please stop getting frustrated on Facebook about drugstore drive-thru lines that don't accommodate requests for basic household items? The lines are for people who are picking up prescriptions, not milk and diapers.
I 10000% sympathize with being responsible for three small children and wishing -- praying -- that a pharmacist at Walgreens would be willing to "run out" some milk to an overwhelmed mom, but really, Pink? You were "pretty surprised in the lack of care"? Is Walgreens a doctor's office, or a retail store with a prescription window? Are pharmacists "mom couriers," or, you know, busy pharmacists? What's illuminating to me about Pink's tone here is that she fails to recognize the possibility that this pharmacist *wasn't* busy; he's just tired of being asked to "run out" to various moms' cars like it's part of his job. If we ALL evoke special privileges, eventually none of us will get them. So maybe "it doesn't ever hurt to ask," but if too many people ask too much, there won't be any favors left to redeem. Let's check out some other examples.
1. Best Brunch
I think most of us know what Mandy is looking for here -- a restaurant where she doesn't have to deal with a bunch of rugrats. We've all been to a nice brunch and had eggs Benedict with a side of screaming child, so I can relate to her sentiment of not wanting to engage with "swarming" children as she scarfs down some free range eggs and seasonal produce in the East Bay for $22. HOWEVER, she has a child of her own, so all arguments are null and void. I'm not saying she needs to pack up her diaper bag and head to Chuck E. Cheese for the worst slice of pizza ever eaten, but she might want to "check her mom privilege" or whatever. It's one thing to ask Yelp where you can take your toddler "but not be around other toddlers," but it's another to ask everyone on social media without even a hint of irony. Maybe next time just use a restaurant app, Mandy. Pretty much anyone in the East Bay can help you with that.
2. Two Of Everything, Thanks!
When I first read this submission, I was reminded of asking myself this very question a few months ago when I gave a gift to a friend who had twins. "Should I just buy two of everything? What if I....don't? What if I get them multiple gifts, but they don't match?" I had a flurry of questions but very little interest in digging for answers so I just wound up buying matching gift sets. Hence, when I read this submission, I was like, "Oh, good, I did the right thing," which was immediately followed up with, "Waaaaait a second. This woman kind of sounds like a selfish biatch?" And then, right after that, "I just wish I could ask a mom of twins about this." Welp, since this was sent in by a member of the 'Mothers of Twins Club,' all I had to do was reference the submitter's email for her thoughts. She said, "I couldn't let this one go. Entitlement generation, much?" It's always nice when submitters help put things in perspective.
People aren't using "twindom" as an excuse, C. They just only have so much money to hand you for your children.
3. Television Service Provider Requests
Did you know commercials are a nuisance? Did you know they're a bigger nuisance for parents, and Sling TV better get with the fucking program? Ha, that's a TV pun -- "get with the program" -- but in all seriousness, Orange will not be tolerating commercials that are: 1) Loud. Why is your shit so loud, Sling TV? Other providers NEVER make their commercials louder than the regular programmi-- oh wait, yes they do. 2) Commercials for 'The Walking Dead.' They're scary and inappropriate for kids and Sling better do something about this ASAP because there's not a single thing parents can do to shield their children from commercials. 3) Just any other commercials. Sling, if you keep showing commercials for 'The Walking Dead,' or commercials in general, especially the loud ones, just assume you've lost a customer. If you can make these modifications, please have a representative call Orange and let her know. She'll be sure to keep her eyes and ears open and would appreciate it if the representative could call between 10am and 3pm on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, or between 9am and 1pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Calling on the half-hour usually works best. Thx.
4. Snow Removal Upset
Erin is aware that the snow needs to be removed, but couldn't the snow removal workers go to bed when everyone else does while still magically ensuring that the snow be removed by 8am? Is that not possible? And if not, WHY not. The City of Fredericton and frankly all of Canada should do better to serve its citizens.
5. Once Again Sarah Is Complaining
This conversation is like a mic drop. I've doubted my stance on parental entitlement before, but it's possible I never will again. I don't know what's better: watching a bunch of women speak my every thought, or reading the words "nasty, bitter little mole!" at the end. Sarah, get over yourself and stop harassing the poor social media manager at Coles corporate. You're a mother of three, I'm sure you can figure out a solution that doesn't rely on assistance from someone within the store. After all, it's not special treatment you're seeking. You said so yourself! Maybe the next time you expect a store to go above and beyond to serve you, you shouldn't complain (again) on the business Facebook page. No one wants to collect a trolley for a bitter little mole.