We shared the same carriage you and I, last weekend. In fact, my daughter and I were seated back-to-back to where you were seated and right in front of me sat my husband as well as my young son.
Assuming you were lucid and did not have amnesia, I’m pretty sure you remember us.
Yes, us. A harmless, usually friendly set of parents whom along with our 2 young children had to sit through a rough half an hour journey listening to tolerating two barely of age boys hurling profanities, obscenities and largely being a public nuisance with no regard for other commuters who shared the same space.
While my Dutch is rubbish, I did catch on some of the rude words that came out of their mouths. It was hard not to unhear what were said; but just to be sure, I threw a glance at my husband several times just to confirm that I was not hearing things.
His expression said it all confirming that every other words uttered were being replaced with a f**k or c**t and many other vulgarities in Dutch as they spoke at each other at the top of their lungs while poking, hitting and kicking one another with unabashed bravado.
In short, the boys were being major assholes. The ruckus they made were disrupting an otherwise pleasant ride home. My guess on their age? One is no more than 13 and the other no more than 8.
Several times I swiveled my head over to the boys and glanced up at them with a stern stare. Needless to say, I was conveniently ignored.
At the time when I delivered my magnanimous glares, we were not aware that they were travelling with an adult since they sat on the other aisle, away from you. But, as I turned my head to where you were seated each time I thrust my deathly scowls, I wondered if you were with them since you guys had some sort of a conversation every now and then.
We came to a conclusion that you are probably the older friend. And that the young-ish looking girl sitting opposite you is likely to be your younger sister.
What you and your brood were up to were none of our business. We aren’t saints and we know how disruptive kids could get. So trust me when I say that for that full half an hour, we tried to ignore the mayhem and let things be.
Still, what got to us was the use of profound profanities and the sheer disrespect of other people within the confinement of a public space. It got to the point that the noise and the disruptions were too much to bear and we were conscious of what our young kids were witnessing and absorbing.
We could have move seats but alas, 2 tired parents dragging 2 small, tired kids can be quite a chore! Besides, there weren’t that many stops left for us to shift our asses elsewhere.
As a general rule, we don’t parent other people’s kids, but we do draw the line when boundaries are crossed. And at that point, the only thing that was left to do was to gently tell the kids to keep it down, hoping we’ll get some respite in the remaining 10 minutes ride.
Let me tell you that my husband is probably one of the most tolerant and calmest person we know. He doesn’t get annoyed easily and is usually pretty harmless. So, for him to react by telling the kids off is actually something. He contemplated hard; even I was surprised that he said something about it.
That said, you barging in with your “You have no right. Let them be. I’m their father” claim, barking rudely at my husband, cussing and calling him terrible names just because he requested for your kids to keep it down was downright appalling.
Your strings of vulgarities was uncalled for and you calling my husband cancer-faced was just shameful. On top of that you almost came close to bashing him up if you could as you huffed, puffed and fisted up directly at him. You lectured my husband and told him to let boys be boys – that they have the right to behave how they behaved.
Worse of all, you even encouraged your kids to continue with their rude and shameful misconduct as you screamed your head off at us. You told them, right to our faces to ignore my husband’s request; only because we civilly requested for a little calmness from your little boys.
You had blatantly endorsed bullying and shamelessly advocating disrespect.
Did you not realise that there were 6 pairs of young, impressionable eyes looking at you…3 of whom are likely to look up to you as their role model? One of your boys still have to grow his adult teeth if you hadn’t realise.
Perhaps you were in a bad place. Perhaps there was something else going in your life at the moment. Or perhaps you were just trying to impress the young girl who was with you, displaying to your brood what being macho means.
Whatever the reason was, we meant no harm and we certainly did not expect that you’d be lashing at us like that. Like you, all we wanted was to protect our kids and their young, receptive minds.
What they saw was not OK; not for us, not for our kids, not for other kids who were also in the train that evening. And also not even for your own children (not that it matters to you).
Watching you seething in anger as you spat unsavory words to my husband in response to calling out your children’s behaviour was not pleasant. You even got me fearing for our safety and that’s never a good thing.
What I’m saying here is probably lost on you but we as parents do try very hard to impart civic-mindedness and mindfulness to our children’s every day life. We hope that our kids will grow up to be graceful citizens and having our kids witnessed that gnarly behaviour of yours and your children makes our job that much harder.
You have no idea that we have been having a rather rough week with our daughter surrounding the subject of being respectful and being considerate towards others, do you?
Let me tell you it has been tough on us having to deal with over the top rudeness and defiance on an almost daily basis. Under no uncertain terms do we want to condone such rude behaviour. Not now. Not ever.
On the hindsight, I’m thankful our paths crossed. Because as crazy as that may sound, that momentary moment became moment of lessons learnt.
You should be proud Mister-Father-in-the-train-defending-your-boys! To your credit, as much as you left a very bitter taste in our mouths, you did open up our eyes for teachable moments:
…of the things we could never advocate as parents
…of the things kids think would be OK to be said and do
… of having the opportunity to learn to walk away when things get ugly
… and of being able to stay calm with our heads held high.
I wish you well Mister-Father-in-the-train-defending-your-boys. I hope your children will somehow turn around and not continue to be a folly to the society. Most of all, may you in time cross your path with other kids who are far more disruptive than yours that you’ll implode into a dildo as you huff and puff your anger away at them.
Thank you for the precious teachable moments. You showed us exactly the kind of person we do not want to be.
Just another parent trying to raise reasonably decent kids.