Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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Those little "treasures" we all would love to bury

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My daughter attends a pre-school that is a bit on the "upscale" side, I, on the other hand ,am a down home kind of gal and have had immense difficulty fitting in with the other mothers -- these women actually show up dressed to the nines to pick their children up at which time they perform the "spatula move" greeting their child with what appears to be a hug only to have it turn into a hand grabbing thing where they ensure their child does not touch their immaculate clothes and make-up. I, on the other hand, show up in comfy (but always clean) clothes and my daughter proceeds to wrestle me to the ground with hugs and kisses all the while the other mothers watch with their "onion smelling" face and rarely if ever acknowledge my presence. I have learned to deal with it and could really care less. 

This year another mother who dresses and acts like me came with her daughter to the preschool and we became fast friends, we talk and chatter on the phone, and generally have a lot in common.  Much to both of our delights our daughters were the best of friends as well. We decide to start getting together (along with our daughters and her son) and our first excursion is to McDonald's where they have a play land. The outing goes well though I notice she has some difficulty managing her children as they do not listen to anything she says, I am overall still pleased and gladly welcome another chance to get together. 

I accept an invitation from her the following week to go to a local buffet (where I have taken my daughter on many an occasion without incident) for lunch. When you arrive at this buffet you have to go through one of those rope mazes in order to get to the lady that takes your drink order and to pay for your meal. Her children ("J"-the girl and "C"-the boy) start running across the maze , laying on the floor scooting under it, and C grabbed the suggestion box papers and starts flinging them , the whole time mom is saying (in a barely audible) voice "now behave". We finally pay and the server comes to show us our table during the walk to the table J and C are grabbing at the food on the buffet, running past the server and then stopping (they almost tripped her twice) and generally wreaking havoc. Finally , we sit down (back in no-man's land without another customer in sight, which amused me since I have eaten there with my daughter countless times and never been sat that far away). I now believe it is the restaurants policy on dealing with troublesome children since not one single other person was seated back there during our time in the restaurant. 

During the meal (which you obviously get for yourself) mom loads up J and C's plates with a ton of food, which they refuse to touch , instead choosing to make mad dashes every few seconds for the dessert bar. Mom tries to enforce some rules by saying, "If you two don't clean your plates no dessert" , they decided to dump their plates on the floor . Mom laughs at this and says, "Well they cleaned their plates," and proceeds to get both of them dessert. I would like to interject here that my daughter has sat quietly the entire time and at one point actually whispered to me, "J and C are not listening to their mommy" -- I swear at that point angels were singing and my daughter's halo showed just  a bit.  LOL. 

Now, while we are trying to eat (try being the operative word there) J and C also decide that the condiments and napkins on the table are meant as toys so they proceed to dump out all condiments and rip up about 40 napkins , I am telling them no every two seconds while their mother sits there and ignores them. J and C also tell their mother every couple minutes that they need to use the restroom, she takes them each time, and at one point my daughter says that she needs to go so I take her, when we entered the bathroom it looked like a cyclone had hit it, water and paper towels everywhere (gee, I wonder who did that). Mercifully, the meal ends , and we go to leave a tip, mom decides one dollar is enough (which by the way is not even 15% , which is all I usually tip at a buffet since I rarely need any attention from the server though at a dining restaurant I usually leave 25%). I am appalled since her children made a huge mess both on and around the table (my daughter made no mess whatsoever) not to mention the mess in the bathroom which I am sure they caused and I take it upon myself to leave the rest of the tip (which amounted to a 50% tip) since I felt that our poor server deserved it. Since this day I have been dodging her phone calls and her attempts to get together, I have no desire to be around these children ever again.


Parents' failure to train their children to behave in society is the ultimate cruelty and unkindness to them.  They enter into society seriously handicapped with little or no social skills only to be despised by their peers.  Diligent, loving parents want to see their children excel in life and begin the lessons necessary to achieve that success early in life by beginning to lay a foundation upon which more complex life skills are built upon as the child ages.   


I work at an after school tutoring center.  The tutors are real teachers with degrees. We work with all kinds of students: very bright and those that are behavior problems and those that have minor learning difficulties.  Also we work with students of all ages: preschool to high school.

My first story involves "Jake." Jake is very behind.  He's 6 years old and on a very low preschool level.  Now the way the center is set up, each teacher teaches at most three students at a time.  We have six desks arranged in a fairly large room,  One teacher and three students at each desk.  Since all the desks are in the same room all the teacher try to keep noise down for all the other teachers.  Jake however isn't quiet at all.  He runs around (it's almost impossible to keep this child in his seat for more than five minutes) and throws tantrums when he can't get his way, and he even throws tantrums when you correct him on a mistake.  One time he kept running around and peed himself.  The other teacher kept asking if he needed to go to the bathroom (he was doing the pee dance), but he kept saying no.  Good thing that day that his mother was in the lobby.  We told her the situation and she went to the bathroom with the son to clean him up.  As he was running around, and disrupting others, she didn't do anything to stop him.  Fortunately, when Jake's father is around, he is much more behaved, as his father doesn't stand for that kind of foolishness.

My next story involves Transition Time.  Transition Time is the time between the tutoring hours, that the kids can relax and play a game, or buy prizes with the Tokens that we gave them for good work.  It is also a time for the teachers to finish up the paperwork.  Some of the boys found a foam stress relief ball and were throwing it around during transition time.  I told the boys to be careful, we don't have any room inside for them to be doing that, to put the ball away and not throw it.  They ignored me.  There wasn't too much time left until the next tutoring hour, so I was starting to prepare for the next hour: Getting notebooks and pencils ready, seeing what the student had to be studying, when BAM! that ball hits me in the throat.  I couldn't breathe.  I head to the teacher's bathroom to catch my breath.  The other teachers take away the ball.  The student's have the excuse of, "But no one told us not to throw it."  I was mad, very mad. Even worse, none of the student's apologized.  A few months later some of the same students find that ball and throw it around again. And guess what, it hits me again right on the nose.  And again, no one apologized.  As soon as I could I tore that foam ball to pieces and threw it away.

My last story involves one of the other teachers during transition time.  She was about to leave early and had her purse out on the front table.  She forgot to do something (I think fill out her time sheet) and proceeded to do that, leaving her purse on the front table.  I was hunting for a notebook for one student and I caught 3 boys digging through her purse.  I immediately snatched it away from them and asked whose purse it was.  The other teacher, "Missy" came out and grabbed her purse.  Missy is normally mild mannered and good to all the children no matter how much they have gotten on her nerve that day, but when I told her what happened she started to scream at the boys who did this and double checked the contents of her purse to make sure nothing was gone.  She said that this was her property and they had no right to look through it.  I wasn't sure if she should've screamed it at them in front of the other students, but I can't say I would've been more restrained if it was my purse.  Oh in case you didn't guess the three boys looking through her purse participated in at least one of the times I got hit with a ball. 

The bad thing is that too many parents come to us and basically let us know that they can't control their child and basically tell us, "You fix them, I can't do anything."  It not our job to raise their children! We just teach them.  I think teachers everywhere get this all the time.



I so enjoyed reading your Everyday Rug Rats section, I felt compelled to share a little rug rat story of my own. My husband and I live in a historic home with many, many windows. Our front door is mostly glass with long windows on each side. We choose not to cover the glass because we enjoy the sunlight and we like being able to see the goings on of the neighborhood from our living room. All the homes in our neighborhood have similar door fronts and few cover the windows. Everyone respects one another's privacy. Our neighbors have a wonderful little 2 year old daughter who is just as polite and sweet as can be. However, they have a cousin that visits often with her good-for-nothing husband and 2 spawns of Satan. 

These children are the most rude, obnoxious children I have ever met in my life. The girl spawn takes our neighbor's daughter's toys away from her and treats them the same disrespect she probably treats her own toys. The parents just sit back and watch. If the neighbor's daughter gets angry at the cousin's daughter for stealing and mistreating her toys, the cousin's husband punishes her for not sharing. Naturally, our neighbor is not around to witness his daughter getting punished for no reason. The boy spawn... well.... he's just weird! 

One day, my husband and I had just gotten home from work and we were taking a few minutes to relax on the sofa before dinner. I had a distinct feeling I was being watched so I looked over at the front door. My husband looked as well, and he actually shrieked in horror and jumped out of his seat, when he saw the boy spawn peering in through our front door at us. This horrible little brat was standing there with his face and both hands pressed against the glass just staring at us! My husband opened the door and said "What do you want?" The kid just stands there staring at him. My husband then proceeds to tell the little holy terror that if he wants something from us, to please knock on the door. The kid says okay and walks away. We thought the whole ordeal was over. OH NO! No such luck. The next time the family from hell is visiting our neighbors, the boy spawn comes over again. This time, he presses his face and slimy little hands on our glass and stares in at us while he knocks on the door. I answered the door and said "What do you want?" He just stared at me for a moment then walked away. We later told our neighbor what his cousin's child had done and since then, the incident has not occurred again. However, every time we see that those people are visiting, we hide either by going upstairs, or we go out to dinner or find some other excuse to leave the house.



I get invited to lots of toddler/infant birthday parties even though I don't have any children. These parties end up being a girls' day out. We are expected to show up with a gift and any children we might have. The adults are supposed to sit and talk while the children play among themselves. There are always 5-10 children that range in ages of 0-15. The party ends when the toddlers/infants are in a rage of boredom and tantruming with all their might. By this time the older children are whining to go home and the teens are swearing to have themselves fixed. I have been to very few birthday parties where the birthday child has actually enjoyed the ordeal.

Recently a friend called and asked if I knew anyone who had a big enough house for her daughter's third birthday party. Friend's husband just started his own business and things are working out, but they are short of cash. They are jammed into a little apartment. My friend regularly complains that there are too many toys and too little space.

Friend wanted a venue big enough for 15 children and their parents. (Is it just me or isn't this rather large?) She says if someone will volunteer their house, she promises things won't get rowdy. 15 children will sit nicely for two hours, eat cake, and sedately watch the present opening. What about her in-laws? Nope. They were hosting the "family" party, not the "friends" party.

I thought it would be tacky of me to suggest that she host at the house of a perfect stranger. I suggested McDonald's or some other such venue. No, too expensive. They are VERY poor. I suggested that she cut the guest list. Nope. She needed every single person there. Was she inviting the whole pre-school? No, they couldn't afford pre-school. The whole play group? Oh no! She hadn't thought of the play group. Did she have to invite them? These were just the children of all her high school sorority friends. She wanted to see them and catch up.

I gently suggested that maybe the family party would be enough. After all, her husband came from a family of five and the little girl has something like 20 cousins. NO! See, they are really, really, poor. The children already suffer by having to eat generic cereals, clothes with unprestigious tags, and not going to Disneyland. The little girl shouldn't have to suffer a lack of presents as well.

So here is the party: A three-year-old is going to meet 8 strange women who are mostly interested in talking. She is going to be put in the church basement with 15 other children for two hours with nothing but some folding chairs and a plate of cupcakes. The best time to have a non-meal party is between meals: right during her nap time.

The presents might salve the wounds of "poverty," but since the house is already full... (Thank goodness she didn't invite me.)


I am a bug on American history. Have been since I was a kid, and my parents encouraged it. When I was eight years old, my dad had to attend a business conference in Philadelphia. My mom and I had a great time touring various historical sites in Philly (Liberty Bell, etc.), and when the conference was over, all three of us drove out to Gettysburg.

This was supposed to be the highlight of our trip, so we took the bus tour that goes around the battlefield while a guide gives a spiel. Buses leave every half hour or so, so it's a mystery to me why two families with crying -- no, make that screaming -- babies had to take that bus, right then.

One in the front of the bus, one in the back. They'd already been crying when we were grouped up at the departure site, and during the tour, they continued and never stopped. Nonstop WAH WAH WAH for an hour and a half, or however long it was. If one calmed down momentarily, the other kicked it into a higher gear. We could not hear one word from the tour guide, not a syllable. And she kept right on with her speech! I realize that after the bus started moving, it was too late to put anyone off, but you'd think either someone at the site, or the parents themselves, could have realized that this was a major nuisance, and it would be better all around to take a later bus.

My parents were annoyed, but I was furious. Plus, my mom is prone to headaches, and after the bus stopped, she was in such bad shape because of this assault of noise, we couldn't even tour the site on foot, but had to go right to the motel. Parents, please don't inflict your screaming babies on other people! 



This is in response to the woman upset by having a movie ruined by a three year old at the late-night viewing. She mentioned that a friend suggested she should have threatened the woman with calling child protective services.  She was right to be upset, and I would have had the exact same thoughts about what kind of parent would take a child to a PG-13 movie that late at night.  I am extremely cautious about what my toddler sees, as well as considerate about bringing kids to movies, so I would never have been the offending woman.  BUT!  The example here shows that the woman was a BAD PARENT, not automatically an abusive one.  Yes, keeping a kid up at night is not good, letting them see slightly disturbing images is not good (which is relative, since I consider the crime show COMMERCIALS that come on during normal family viewing time to be very disturbing, but apparently not everyone agrees that images of corpses is a problem during family time.  I now record TV so I can forward during offensive commercials), but although the mother was rude and insensitive, I don’t believe she committed ABUSE or NEGLECT that would warrant a call to child protective services! 

There are plenty of parents who don’t make choices like we might.  We may consider them bad, but taking up the valuable time of an already overstressed organization is not the answer.  CPS exists to help protect children in DANGER, in danger of parents who beat them or don’t feed them or similar crimes, not lesser offenses like letting them stay up late or not teaching them manners. 

She may have only meant to threaten the woman and not actually make the call. But I have read too many heartbreaking instances where a child was wrongfully taken from the home. We should not treat it lightly or consider it a tool to use against etiquette-challenged parents.  It was obvious the woman was more upset about a ruined movie than concerned about the welfare of the child.



A few years back I volunteered with a girls' youth group (ages 8 - 11). It was a very mixed group, with all sorts of family backgrounds. The family that stood out most featured The Triplets. They were a pain in the neck, another volunteer actually said "I work with criminals all day - including murderers - and I'd rather be with them than The Triplets."

Sadly, one of The Triplets, Ally, was actually very sweet while Abbie and Addie were obnoxious, rude and cruel. It was the last week before Christmas and The Triplets had just come back from a break (Abbie and Addie had been told they were banned for a month, and could decide if they wanted to come back when the month was up. Sadly, practicality meant that Ally couldn't come either.) At the time we were all very tense because of The Triplets returning, their mother actually said "We're paying you to sort out our kids!" Er, no. They were paying to cover art materials and things. We were not a finishing school.

The timing of the return was problematic as Christmas is a very traumatic time for one girl, Jenny. Jenny's Granddad had died unexpectedly two Christmases before, and her Dad had passed away the previous Christmas. We were trying to make her feel a little better without showing favoritism. For instance, when we played games the girls took it in turns to be it/on/the catcher. We made sure Jenny's turn came close to Christmas, but it was in no way unfair to anyone else.

"Jenny ALWAYS gets picked!" Abbie whined. "Why is Jenny so special?" I jumped in to say that she didn't always get picked, it was her turn. The other girls backed this up, since they were fed up of Abbie and Addie taking other people's turns.

Abbie and Addie then cheated at the games, and were generally rude and difficult. After the girls went home we would have to seriously consider what to do with them, as they were spoiling it for everyone else. We would be sad to see Ally go, since she genuinely benefited from it all, but we couldn't have the other two ruining every week.

Everything came to a head at Prayer Time. We finish each session with circle prayers, and we have a "Prayer Bear," a small teddy, which the girls can pass on when they have finished their prayer, or if they are too shy to speak out loud. We were doing "thank you" prayers, and since w had just received letters from the two girls we have "adopted" in Angola the thank yous were along the lines of, "Thank you we have good doctors," and, "Thank you we can go to school". Then the prayer bear gets to The Triplets. Ally says, "Thank you that we have clean water and nice food, amen."

Then it's Abbie's turn. "Thank you that I'm so perfect! Amen!". Well, that was obnoxious. Addie's turn: "Thank you we're so great that you didn't kill our Dad like you did to skanky Jenny." As you can imagine, Jenny was in tears. I took her outside, and was followed by Ally who shouted, "I'm not a triplet with you two anymore!" and offered the most sincere apologies for her sisters. Ally gave Jenny a big hug, and we all had a talk and a prayer in a side room. Being two very mature eleven year olds they asked to pray for the strength to forgive Abbie and Addie.

Meanwhile the remaining Triplets have been taken to another room where they are shouting at another volunteer. Apparently it's not their fault Jenny is so sensitive and it must be her fault that her Dad and Granddad are dead so she must be really evil. All of this was said with a sneer, so it's not as if they had been taught this. The volunteer is stupid for daring to tell them off and their parents could afford to pay us all to do whatever they ask. At this point said parents turn up to hear two of their daughters screaming and using vile language. Without even asking what led up to it, they join in with Abbie and Addie in insulting the volunteer.

"I'll have your >bleeping< job for this!" is said more than once. Erm, we're volunteers. Anyway, between all four volunteers (the other girls and parents had left by now) we managed to get across that Abbie and Addie would not be welcome back, but Ally would. Ally knew full well her parents wouldn't be prepared to take her on her own and we were all upset to lose her.

As it happened, Ally and Jenny became good friend and an arrangement was made for Ally to stay at Jenny's house after school so they could go to the club together. So at least some good came of the horrid situation.



I worked in a day camp over the summer so, as part of my job, I was supposed to ride on the school bus with the kids to camp and keep them quiet enough that the bus driver could focus, seated, and safe. We were on a mini-bus that held a maximum of 16 children and I had 14 campers. Because the children needed supervision for the entirety of the bus ride, I was the first person on the bus as well as the first off. Because we had such limited seating, it was arranged that I would sit alone in the first row so that I could direct the bus driver and get on and off the bus easily to help the kids with their bags, etc. Everything went smoothly enough. Granted, there were complaints about seating arrangements from time to time forcing me to assign seats on occasion, but nothing too drastic.

It was roughly halfway through the summer when the trouble started. The camper that got on at the first stop (after me, of course) started to complain that she wanted to sit alone because she was bigger than most of the others (she was in the oldest division - roughly 12 years old and a bit overweight). I explained to her that there was simply not enough room so she asked, as someone was bound to eventually, why I got to sit alone every day. I explained that I got on the bus before even she did and that, being 5 years older than she, I took up even more room. She seemed to accept the explanation and, for the rest of the ride to camp and the ride home that evening, didn't cause any trouble. That night I received a phone call from the camp office. They informed me that the camper's mother had called them with a complain seating-wise in that I had seated the camper next to someone she didn't particularly like and could I please try and seat her next to someone else next time? I explained to the office that she had refused to sit next to the kids who had walked on for the first few stops and, come time for the last stop, that was the only seat left. The office accepted my explanation and hung up.

The following evening, the office called me again. The mother had called again to say that I had forced her daughter to sit next to someone on the bus again. I reminded the office of our seating situation and, after reviewing the list, accepted my explanation again and returned the mother's call. The next morning when she walked on the bus she, once again, waited until the last stop when she would have to sit with the camped who arrived at the end, when no other seats were available, and then refused, actually refused to sit with him. When I told her she had no other options, having turned away all her friends earlier, I offered her to switch seats and sit next to a friend. She promptly refused and said that she wanted to sit alone. Slightly exasperated at that point, I went over the situation AGAIN for her. She answered that she knew and her mommy said she didn't have to sit next to anyone. I told her that her mother could call the office again and that, in the interim, she would have to sit next to someone.

She refused my proposition and said that I should sit with him. I'll admit that the child walking on was entering kindergarden and was small enough to fit into the seat comfortably, but the fact of the matter was that this was a set policy to make things fair for the entire bus. After roughly 20 minutes of her refusal, I attempted to contact the office however the lines were tied up from the usual check-in calls. I decided that, for the sake of getting to camp in time and beating commuter traffic, I would sit next to him and file an incident report with the office once I arrived, which I did. During my lunch break, I spoke with the director about the situation and she arranged a meeting with the mother.

During the meeting the mother actually said, and I still can't believe it to this day, that her child got on the bus first, was bigger than the other children and therefore deserved her own seat. This is her MOTHER. The director, as frustrated as myself by that time, went over the seating issue AGAIN and the mother replied that I should have to sit with the other campers since I wasn't paying all that money to attend camp and she was. Frankly, she was NOT the only parent paying the tuition and transportation fees and even if it was part of my job, I shouldn't have to tolerate that. In the end, the mother was told that her daughter could either behave or find her own means of transportation to camp each morning. She opted for the former and I had to put up with the girl every day until eventually, fed up with everything, I complained to the director once again and the girl was forced to find alternative means of transportation.



Page Last Updated July 30, 2007