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Rotten Teenagers or a Funny Moment?

homer-brainA couple hours ago, I posted an Epic People Watching post in which I transcribed a conversation two preteen girls were having about sneaking a coat into the mom’s shopping cart.

When I put that post together, I purposefully shared nothing about it besides the facts. I just told you what I heard and left it at that. I knew, from prior experience, that the comments would take care of any debate that was to be had with it.

And sure enough. Most of you laughed (as did I), and some of you had some stronger things to say about these girls, their mothers, and parenting in general.

And as a parent myself, I have to wonder, is it so wrong to laugh at what I witnessed? Were they rotten girls or was it a funny moment?

Hear me out. I have seven thoughts about why I have to laugh about it.

1) I have to laugh because I know that sticky-fingered children always get caught eventually.

2) I have to laugh because I know that children don’t have fully developed brains. While as a dad it’s my duty to teach my child immediate consequence if I find him doing such things, as a human being I have to sit back and smile or even laugh at the brains of young dum dums. I mean, come on, she was going to try and sneak a huge coat in between the milk. As a parent, I don’t care how wrong it is, the sheer silliness of such a “well thought out” idea is hilarious.

3) I have to laugh because I know that there’s a dang good chance they get caught with something like that. And I have to think about their little preteen dramafest that would certainly go on after getting caught.

4) I have to laugh because I remember being a kid. I was a sticky finger child and I got caught a few times even though, I like to think, I was the master of thievery.

5) I have to laugh because these girls thought they were being so sneaky, yet they were talking so loud that I could hear every word they were saying.

6) I have to laugh because laughing is so much better than judging, or stepping into other parents’ territory, or criticizing, or stressing about it.

7) I have to laugh because I know that laughing about it isn’t the same as thinking it’s acceptable or okay.

I will never demonize a child. I will never think a child is rotten. I will never think a child is horrible.

Even when my own child does ludicrous or naughty things, I will only ever think that children are sometimes dum dums with dum dum brains. Yes, I will punish, and teach, and discipline, but I will never make the mistake of defining a child or labeling a child by the things that come out of those dum dum brains. To do so would mean never letting them grow out of it.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

PS. Comments. Please.

124 comments
MurielReilly
MurielReilly

I love #6:  I have to laugh because laughing is so much better than judging, or stepping into other parents’ territory, or criticizing, or stressing about it.  

That kind of reaction is so much better & healthier for all of us  :) 

Mary
Mary

:) Well spoken!! I think I have to agree with you. :)

Sara
Sara

Totally agree.  You have to laugh- teen years aren't terminal.

adoptivemomto2
adoptivemomto2

I can't tell you the number of times my husband calls my kids idiots or his own son an A-hole because of stuff he has done. It kills me. I agree, a lot of times, kids just don't think! Eventually, they will grow out of it. I laugh inside at the drama my kids tell me about and then I listen and help them and tell them it will get better.

StefaniHoffRidenour
StefaniHoffRidenour

I haven't read any of the comments here so I might be repeating, but I appreciate the reminder that we shouldn't define our children by any one stupid thing they've done (or anyone for that matter). Our kids haven't developed a complete set of ethics and morality so stupid actions should be expected, and even adults that have a fully developed moral code have stupid moments that usually they want to take back as soon as it has happened. We still need to hold them (children and adults) accountable for their behavior, but we shouldn't let one stupid act define how we see them forever.

AmandaK
AmandaK

Also, eavesdropping (ESPECIALLY unintentionally) is free entertainment. If someone is having a conversation loud enough to be heard even when you're not focused on them (initially) then you should be free to judge, laugh, and share. :P 

jer2911
jer2911

I have to say thank you- for many things, but above all right now - sharing with as many who will read that every thing a kid does is not a life changer, a defining moment, an all or nothing end all be all of their entire future - for helping people to feel empowered to laugh at life. And one of the most important reasons I love you so much - "I have to laugh because laughing is so much better than judging" - this one point is my platform, my soap box... my whatever you want to call it - it's what I am most passionate about. If we could reduce the amount of judging people do, there would be so much more happy news, and much much less disastrous news! And as far as the teenagers go - they are teenagers, it was hilarious - on so many levels and I am glad you shared. I appreciated the laugh today! Bless you my friend - have a fantastic week!

Holly
Holly

I am working on teaching my kids that there aren't bad people, that we all just make bad choices sometimes. Including me. So these girls, while being sneaky, probably could have just asked their Mom or saved their allowance and gotten the jacket (eventually) rather than trying to be sneaky. Ultimately, they were testing the limits, which is a completely human thing to do. But that doesn't make them bad kids or the Mom a bad Mom. Its just not the "best" choice.

JenniferWhite
JenniferWhite

LOVE both the original post and this one, AND I love crazy children and the silly things they come up with.... AND I love the podcast thing, you have a great voice. :)

janeinmt
janeinmt

Well, I read that yesterday and I thought it was funny! And I have to agree with all 7 of your points!


MeghanM
MeghanM

This definitely reminds me of my middle school students. Sometimes they think they're so smart, when they're really just not. Like when they try to hide their book under the table or behind their folder so they can read when they're not supposed to (i.e. during math class). I have to remind myself to just laugh, at least on the inside or when I get back to my office. It's so easy to stress and forget that they're just middle schoolers. I will still punish them and teach them about consequences but sometimes kids are just ridiculous :)

Chips
Chips

I thought the story was funny.  Typical kids, really.  Pretty much every time I take my kids grocery shopping, my daughter will create a diversion, "Mom, look over there at the purple cow!", while my son proceeds to throw some kind of banned sugary cereal in the cart.  Nice try, kids!  Seriously, its not like they were planning on stealing the coat without paying for it.  Some people take life a little too seriously.  I often think back to when I was a kid and some of the things I tried to pull on my parents... and some of the stupid things I got punished for... those who judge need to lighten up a little. 

Gay Dad Laughing
Gay Dad Laughing

I am in my mid-twenties and I will sneak stuff in to my mom's cart when ever we meet up to go shopping. More for kicks than anything else, plus seeing the face of the cashier is always priceless as my mom manages to play it off every time. "Gee mom, what do you need with fifty feet of nylon rope, four ski masks and petroleum jelly for?" "Oh you know dear, the Jones' are coming over this weekend. It is our turn to host the entertainment."

Crystal Rivers
Crystal Rivers

My husband still sneaks stuff into the shopping cart, he's kind of like having a 3rd child at times. But it makes me laugh, no he doesn't need that box of giant creme pies but he works 45+ hours a week while I stay home with the kids so I can't complain.

DallasDaleGramiak
DallasDaleGramiak

Well put.  I was giggling like the preteen I used to be.  I remember hearing from a biology teacher or something that the human brain does not completely finish developing until around age 25.  The last area to develop?  Rational thought.  End of story.  LOL

Not a thievery story, but funny nonetheless.  I remember being at my cousins' house when I was about 10.  We were downstairs playing soccer and my aunt was on the phone.  One of us hit the ball up to the ceiling and knocked down one of those gigantic fluorescent light covers.  My adult brain is PRETTY sure my aunt could hear the ensuing crash of broken cover.  Thinking we were uber smart and sneaky, we casually walked up the stairs, grabbed the scotch tape, and taped the pieces back together.  Smooth...

Arynn
Arynn

I thought your story was funny :)  never tried the cart-sneaking trick myself, I was all about the repeat-it-til-they-say-yes strategy :)

H.t. Nelson
H.t. Nelson

Sooo intelligent. A lesson I've learned only fairly recently.

Pixie Lee
Pixie Lee

Wow. I'll NEVER understand the parents who are so quick to judge. News flash: every child is different, just as every parent is, which means that nobody parents in exactly the same way! Besides, how could you possibly pass judgement on another based on one single, isolated moment, with no prior information & no idea of the outcome. Did I laugh when I read your post? Absolutely. Mine are newly 2 & 9 months, so I haven't gotten this far in my parenting life, but I have enough experience with kids to know that they do dumb things- which is what this situation was. It wasn't stealing. It was attempting to be sneaky & underhanded, yes, but not worthy of serious punishment in my book. Me? I'd probably laugh, tell my kiddos nice try & have a conversation about asking for & earning things. Teachable moment? You betcha. And let us have our giggle & hope the mother thought the same.

Amy Oberle Mcbroom
Amy Oberle Mcbroom

It's not like they were making plans to get it out of the store without it being paid for.

Yvonne M Carlsen
Yvonne M Carlsen

Dan I miss the days when my teens would be giggling to see if I would notice the item they had snuck into the shopping cart and the giggles if cought or not it was kind of a game to them and to this day when I think about it , it makes me smile.

JohnShipley
JohnShipley

You have to laugh! Every time I hear a conversation like this it makes me think back to whan I was "A snot nosed brat" (My fathers favorite sentance) and i did stupid idiotic things like this! Of course I never got away with it, my parents caught me and i would get disaplined in some way. It's just funny as an adult and parent listening to these type of conversations and thinking how stupid do children think we are??? Werent we children once too and didnt we do these same type of things and dont they realize we have already been there and done that????

Missy Potts
Missy Potts

While they are not to bright, thinking they can sneak a big coat between the jugs of milk, lmao, at least they were not trying to steal it. Just trying to pull a fast one over on mom. lol Kids always think they are smarter than their parents. ;-)

soldiermomof3
soldiermomof3

I have to laugh because this has happened to ME.  not a coat, but still....

I have three kids, two step kids and a grandson. At any given moment of any given day I'm doing half a dozen things,so I have to admit to being pre occupied at the check out counter more than once.

Once time I can REMEMBER what happened. I'll share the details. 

When I got home and found the item my daughter had 'slipped in' the cart, I 'slipped' my laundry in her hamper. After she washed, folded and put away my stuff, we had a talk.

Was I a bad parent? nope

Did I condone the action? nope

did my daughter consider what she did theft? nope


Kyra
Kyra

The way I read the first post was that the two girls were going to sneak a coat into a different woman's cart (not their mother). I had that happen to me while buying clothes, and didn't notice until I got home, which I found annoying. So I didn't think it was funny, I thought the two girls were being bratty. I think it's funnier now that I realize it was their mom they were trying to trick into buying her a coat, not a joke they were playing on a stranger.

Cathy Brinkmeier Mutschler
Cathy Brinkmeier Mutschler

Well said Dan. I read your earlier post just a little while ago and I found the story amusing. Typical silly teen/tween girl stuff. I typically don't read all the comments because the harshness of many of them result in me getting riled up over the judgemental uptight goofballs. No crime was being committed here people, two girls were loudly scheming to trick one's mother into buying a large coat buy "sneaking" it past her somehow. Do you honestly think they'd get away with it? IF so, you are as ridiculous as they were. LOL!

MikeMartinez
MikeMartinez

What exactly is wrong with laughing a little at the same sorts of foolish tricks all kids think is their genius invention. Every child has done something equally ridiculous. The better thing to do is laugh and then teach the lesson that needs to be learned. Thinking your way of parenting/shaming/snarling will cure the child of these antics better than their own parent is the height of foolishness and you should be ignored. Laughing is better Dan. Way better.

Princess Smartypants
Princess Smartypants

Our brains aren't fully developed until the age of 25. Think about that for a minute. :-)

ally28
ally28

Yeah, I laughed when I read your earlier post... "Hahaha dang kids" is what I was thinking. Kids are kids, they push buttons and boundaries and learn from it.  Most aren't being 'horrible' to be horrible, they are just being kids.  I laughed because I remember thinking I was smarter than my parents, I never was, but I always thought so, that is why those two girls will be caught and have to put the coat back :)

Kris Bierman
Kris Bierman

Although: I just hope the girl isn't setting her friend up on purpose, to laugh at her or cause drama between her and her mom. I had frienemies in grade school who would pull stuff on me like that. :/

CynthiaGergel
CynthiaGergel

I laughed when I read your earlier post.  And at least they were plotting something where the item in question would be PAID FOR and not stolen.

RiverSong
RiverSong

I don't think that it was wrong to laugh. I probably would too, and then being a parent on a strict budget let the other mom know of what is going on. Only because I know that if something is the cart that shouldn't be and it throws off my carefully calculated total, then it throws off my whole budget. And my kids know they have to earn the stuff they really want (outside of Christmas and birthdays). And I know that makes them appreciate it that much more. One of the positives of growing up in a poor family I suppose. 

JennyMeadors
JennyMeadors

6) I have to laugh because laughing is so much better than judging, or stepping into other parents’ territory, or criticizing, or stressing about it.  -- EXACTLY! Well said, Sir.

Jennie
Jennie

I couldn't agree more Dan.  I had sticky fingers when I was a kid, stole the candy cigarettes (am I telling my age?  LOL)  my Mom knew what I was doing and as soon as we got outside she asked me what was in my hands...then she made me take it back inside and apologize to the cashier.  These girls weren't thinking of this getting this coat as stealing but of getting one over on their mom.  I am still laughing.  

BethHazelton1
BethHazelton1

Haha....I thought it was hilarious.  As a parent I love it when my kids try to outsmart me, it means they are thinking and developing their own thoughts and opinions on things.  My kids have too tried to "sneak" things in the basket and they've been busted when I got to the register, sometimes I let them have it, sometimes I don't.

RoxanneFlores
RoxanneFlores

This is a bit off-topic so I apologize in advance . I just wanted to let you know that the conditioner I bought on sale last week after reading your blog before about doing something nice for ourselves once in a while (I doubt you remember me posting about it) is amazing. My hair feels amazing. Thanks for the inspiration to splurge on myself a little. 

My hair is almost to the small of my back now and I think I'm going to keep taking really good care of it so I can grow it out and donate it to locks of love :)

Crystal Rivers
Crystal Rivers

@DallasDaleGramiak When I was about 5 my papa made me some koolaid for my cousin and I. Well we decided we wanted to spruce it up a bit and added a ton of salt and pepper. Needless to say that was disgusting so we asked my papa to make us some more and he told us no, that we were not going to waste all that koolaid and we had to drink it ALL before he would make us some more. So we decided we were just going to force Charlie's (my cousin) baby sister to drink all of the koolaid. She was about 3 and was not having that. So we went behind the house and dumped it all out then came in and told him we drank it all. I don't remember if he made us more or not but now that I'm older I realize how silly that was. Obviously he knew we didn't drink that entire pitcher in under 3 minutes.

mark
mark

My son slipped a DVD in the shopping cart at Costco back in Dec - his favorite movie Madagascar 3.  I saw it on the belt but when we got home, I let him know what a great uncle he was for buying a movie for his nephew.  (Michael is special needs, 19 yrs old, and his nephew is 5.)  

It's fun to use those teachable moments about sharing, giving, thinking of others.

RoxanneFlores
RoxanneFlores

@Kyra You just gave me a great idea for the grocery store. lololol

Crystal Rivers
Crystal Rivers

@RoxanneFlores I haven't cut my hair (minus the split ends) since November 2011. I have vowed not to cut it until at least November 2013 so that I can donate to locks of love :) Mine is about 21 inches from root to tip right now. I've been considering trying that Wen shampoo that I always see on tv but I am VERY picky about my shampoo and conditioner and I'm sure my husband would kill me lol You can probably kind of see how long it is in my picture there :)

Gay Dad Laughing
Gay Dad Laughing

My dad has actually done this to me as well. One day we were at Home Depot picking up lumber for a bathroom remodel I was working on, and somehow he managed to ninja a shovel, saw and trashbags onto one of the carts without me noticing.
Morever, we have this game in my family that causes untold laughs, but more importantly preps us with an excuse for these situations. Basically the idea is that you are at Wal*Mart and you are only able to buy 2 or three things to freak out the cashier. What do you buy?Note: It specifically has to be Wal*Mart, because as we can see from PeopleofWalMart.com, it is pretty hard to freak out Wal*Mart staff.

RoxanneFlores
RoxanneFlores

@Crystal Rivers I haven't measured mine yet but even curly it's to the small of my back an I'm about 6 feet tall :D I didn't plan on donating... it's just something that struck me the other day as something to do :D

Staci Rai
Staci Rai

@RoxanneFlores @Crystal Rivers equally off topic, but Roxanne started it!


I was just enjoying my very favorite lotion, that is a wonderful Aveda treat. I agonized for weeks about spending a downtown gift card on that or something else. My poor husband was so tired of hearing me agonize about spending $25 for lotion, but longing for it so deeply, that he pointed out your post about things to spend money on when you are broke, because he insisted it was a sign I should go buy my darn lotion. 

I appreciate it very much Dan..oh the impact you have on us! All those little thinks you will probably never really fathom..thanks :)