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I'm Sick of All of Us Acting Like Jerks in Front of Kids

Photograph by Jill Simonian

How's this for some positivity? I'm sick of people acting like jerks in front of kids. There. I said it. Our manners and decency are sucking more and more these days, and it's ticking me off.

Why so cranky? Here are some recent events that have spawned this rant of mine.

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My young daughters and I were inside an elevator at our local shopping hotspot, waiting for it to hit the ground floor. The doors opened and we started to exit, but were unable to because of the mad crowd of people waiting outside who rushed into the elevator the second the doors opened, before we were even able to take one step to get out. I was so confused. I loudly apologized to everyone in the elevator about how sorry I was that my daughters and I getting out of the elevator was preventing them from getting in (I explain this in a video). That sure woke everyone up.

Manners matter. People matter. Decency matters. Class matters. We're better than this.

There were also those times when I'd pick my daughter up from school (on time, by the way), and just as we were within four feet of the gate to exit the campus (after a ridiculously long walk across the yard to the only exit that was open), the carpool attendant slammed the gate shut, locked it and said we had to walk around the entire school to get out.

"But we're right here right now, and my car is right there," I pointed to my car, about eight feet away.

"Sorry," she said. "You have to walk around."

I was so confused. Thanks, lady. So we walked all the way around the school. Rude.

And what about that viral story about that young kid's birthday party when no one showed up? Or the other more recent one where parents didn't even respond to the invitation either way? Let's go over this again, shall we? It's either, "No, unfortunately we can't make it" or "Yes, we'll be there." Occasionally there's a "We MIGHT be able to, I'll let you know soon." But no response at all? Decency, people.

I'm not even going to try to explain the folks who refuse to hang up their phones in line at the grocery checkout and yammer away without a glance or acknowledgment to the attendant ringing up their bananas and chicken. Sad.

I'm infuriated, as you can tell. Why am I so sensitive? Because it matters. We know this.

Kids notice things. Kids copy us. Kids do what they see happening around them because what they see happening around them shapes how they're "supposed" to act.

We get one shot, parents. Check ourselves (I certainly have to check myself, over and over). Call others out, nicely, if possible. "Would you mind not screaming, 'What the F-ck!' right in front of my kids in the middle of Target? Thanks.'" Sure, I use that word from time to time, and I definitely don't believe in sheltering kids from everything. It's called real life, and I want them to know "good" words and "bad" words, so they know the difference. But I also believe in basic human decency and respect for others in public places.

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Let's not rush the open elevator doors without letting people out first. Let's not inconvenience others when it's easier to give them a break. Let's not ignore when someone reaches out to us, even if it's via an e-vite. Let's not forget that face-to-face respect and acknowledgment in businesses keep our communities together. Let's not forget that certain four-letter words don't need to be yelled at the same volume as other words in public places.

Manners matter. People matter. Decency matters. Class matters. We're better than this. And if I need to call someone out for the greater good, so be it. Will you join me?

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