Thursday, July 14, 2011

When Daddy’s a Dumb Ass

It’s summer time. School is out and presumably parents are already beginning to feel the pressure of dealing with their own progeny without the buffer of a school day. There’s bound to be some strain, some fraying at the edges, but I thought parents could at least hold out until August.

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n Saturday, I saw a dad out with his two young sons, ages four and five. I had the feeling that mom had gotten up early that morning and escaped to enjoy some alone time, leaving daddy and company to fend for themselves. And dad wasn’t doing well. He wasn’t doing well at all.

For starters each child was wearing expensive but badly mismatched clothes, a violent clash of plaid that assailed the eyes. From their thoroughly rumpled appearance their outfits might have also been the prior night’s pajamas.  This mismatched theme carried over to their shoes. The youngest boy was sporting a sneaker and a crock. Since Dad had lost the battle on coordinated clothing, I bet little Zach stood his ground insisting that Mommy always “lets” him wear two different shoes.

I doubt that, but it was a moot point anyway since neither child was actually wearing his shoes. Both kids were running around barefoot.  The bottoms of their feet were caked black with dirt. It was jarring because you just don’t expect to see that sort of thing on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. On the Upper West Side people don’t even let their dogs walk around unshod.

But apparently, the children’s feet had to be bare since it’s hard scaling scaffolding with shoes on. That’s what the kids were doing when I saw them: climbing up and down construction scaffolding like it was a set of playground monkey bars. They were easily nine feet off the ground. I was aghast not knowing when the concrete jungle had turned into a jungle gym. To my great surprise, the Father wasn’t even trying to get them to climb down. He was instead preoccupied, scarfing down food he’d purchased from a street vendor.

I watched this scene in escalating panic as the kids climbed higher and higher. There was no thick rubber mat underneath them to cushion a fall. It was all hard concrete not known for its shock absorbency. I think my own mommy instincts were kicking in. I wanted to storm over there and say to the kids, “Climb down here right now and put your shoes on! And you,” to the father, “You’re fired.”

My Husband could tell my blood pressure was going up and he felt the waves of judgement rolling off my body. He said, “Let it go, Baby. Just think of it as thinning the herd.”

“Yeah,” I said, “But these kids shouldn’t have to die, because Daddy’s a dumb ass.” Father doesn’t always know best. And then I realized, maybe this man was playing fast and loose with common sense safety because these weren’t his kids. Stories in the news abound about moms leaving their kids with a boyfriend or a step dad and, surprisingly, disaster happens. In the jungle, male animals simply eat the offspring of their rivals. Human society — at least as it’s practiced on the Upper West Side — tends to frown on that sort of thing. So maybe this guy was choosing to let gravity do the work for him.

In the end, struggle though it was, I decided not to say anything. If by chance he really was their father, maintaining the survival of his blood line was his responsibility.  The Upper West Side locals, surreptitiously taking in the scene, also said nothing. Perhaps they were hoping this Father’s carelessness with his kids would open up a private school slot for theirs when the summer’s over. Because sometimes, that’s how it goes down in the urban jungle.

Join The Urban Erma on Facebook or follow on Twitter. You can listen to the podcast on Podbean or subscribe on iTunesLeighann Lord is a stand-up comedian, who's style is best described as "Thinking Cap Comedy." If comedy were music, she'd be Jazz. Check out her upcoming shows @ Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter.  

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