Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cuckoo Parenting

def: Abandoning the responsibility of caring for your own child in public places, instead relying on strangers to do it for you. Named for the cuckoo bird's habit of laying her eggs in the nest of a bird of another species, leaving it to raise her chick.

I have been privy to a few incidents of cuckoo parenting lately, and geez this pisses me off.

Like the Mum at our local pool the other day. GG and I were in the little kiddy pool, about knee-deep, with fibro rocks to climb on, little slides from one area to another, waterfall mushrooms and squirty things and floaty crocodiles to play on. There was plenty of squirting and splashing and squealing in a high-pitched, excited manner. GG had fun too.

At this point, we were the only two in the kiddy area. Then along comes Cuckoo Mumma. I noticed her because she's wearing jeans FFS! It's 30+ degress celcius and she's wearing jeans to a pool. (Note: not all Mums wear swimmers just to go to the kiddy pool, you can wear shorts or a dress or something and not get them wet. But really? Jeans?? No.) Then I am further intrigued when I noticed her child is maybe 10-12 months old. Like, can't even walk properly yet.

"What the hell is she gunna do?", I thought, "Let him dangle his feet in?" Wrong. Apparently, what she was going do to was plop him in the water, smile at me, go to a bench on the side fence and start READING A BOOK!!!!! Of course, Junior promptly fell over, face first into the water. And couldn't get up. Even as I lunged for him, the thought crossed my mind, "How long would I have to pretend to ignore him for her to get off her ass and save him?"

After having picked him up and got him on his feet, holding onto the edge, I look over at Cuckoo Mumma - still reading her book and pointedly ignoring me.

I try breathing... I try imagining a valid reason for her behaviour... hey, maybe she's got five other screaming kids at home, and just needs a break. Umm, noooo, you don't go to a pool to zone out. (You go to the shopping centre and dump them in the kiddy-zoo).

Maybe she just got devastating news, maybe her husband just told her he is leaving her for her transvestite sister. Nope, still can't see the logic here.

Maybe she has a mental problem...

Maybe she's a rude, ignorant bitch, happy to rely on the fact no-one is going to let her child drown to prove a point.

This is getting me nowhere. Now I'm not only watching GG, helping her negotiate the trickier climbs and slides, engaging and playing with her, but now I'm also watching Cuckoo's Chickadee, happily and fearlessly splashing in the shallows, regularly tipping over. I'm also regularly throwing filthy looks at Cuckoo Mumma. All wasted, she hasn't looked up once.

OK, enough of this. I should have just marched straight up to her and given her what for, but I settle for passive agressive instead. I say to GG, loudly, "Hold on darling, stay there, Mummy just has to go help the little boy because HIS MOTHER CLEARLY CAN'T BE BOTHERED!!!!".

GG gives me a look like "Issues much, Mumma?" and Cuckoo Mumma finally looks up, whereupon I make the universally recognised 'WTF' gesture (quizzical expression, hands out, palms up, small shake of the disbelieving head). "You wanna look after your own kid now, sunshine?" I say. She says nothing, sheepishly grabs Chickadee and hightails it out the gate.

Here's the kicker. A minute or so after she leaves, GG needs a potty break. The toilets are all the way over the other side of the complex, so I grab our shoes and bag, and we head off. When we come back, a swimming class has just finished, and about 5 or so kids (and their Mums) are there, delaying having to go out in the heat of the day just a bit longer. Now get this... CUCKOO MUMMA IS BACK! Yup, she had obviously loitered somewhere, saw us grab our gear and head out, thought we had left and come back in to abandon her child again. That's right, Chickadee is now being looked after by another Mum, and Cuckoo Mumma is back on the bench reading her book.

One of the things I love about being a Mum is that sense of camaraderie that sometimes happens within a group of Mums. We had all stationed ourselves around the pool, helping not only our own kids, but whoever was around and needed help over obstacles etc. And yes, we all looked after Chickadee. We all gave each other pointed looks and smirks in Cuckoo Mummas direction, but no one actually said anything.

Why didn't I have another go? Because, frankly, I was having an awesome time with GG, playing with her and talking with a super funny Mum with a little girl her age, and watching them play together. I just didn't want to ruin it by getting all het up and cranky with this stupid bitch, because I'm pretty sure the only person who would be getting upset would be me. Or GG. Given that she had actually waited til I left (so she thought) and come back, this is clearly not a case of "Oh Golly, I didn't realise, how could I have been so silly, a thousand pardons", but Cuckoo Mumma's 'modus operandi' for getting a break from looking after her child.

Now I totally get that being a Mum is hard, mentally draining, relentless, and monotonous work, and sometimes you just want 5 freakin minutes to space out and not pay attention to anything. But c'mon people!! Do it the responsible way - dump your kids at your Mum's house!!!

Just kidding I love you Mum and would never take you for granted you are the best and I am eternally grateful for all you do you are awesome and wonderful and sainted and hey do want to take GG for the night this weekend?



  1. I would have decided that since she was too busy reading her book to come over to the pool, I'd bring the pool to her. a) water would make reading her book hard, and b) jeans take forever to dry even on a hot day and are SO NOT COMFY WHEN WET!

    Stupid woman. Bet she's the same one that takes her kids to the beach and sits 3km away sunbathing with her eyes closed while you race into the water and save her kid from drowning in the waves that are twice as big as they are.

  2. Oh ha hahahahah I am so impressed with how you handled this situation!!! Love your 'tude - so true. Cuckoo indeed!!!! What a weirdo.
    Love your final line too, just made it. Speaking of which I have screaming in background, going insane - wish someone else would step in right about now.... !

  3. I can never understand why people have kids if they're just an inconvenience and/or they're not prepared to take on the responsibility of looking after them. Yes, I get that everybody needs a break, but as you said, relying on the kindness of strangers is not an appropriate solution!

  4. I have this problem at playgrounds and the beach (not pools cos thank god we have our own now, but I remember that joy). I'll be watching my FOUR kids and then having to help all the other kids who fall down and smash their heads because their parents are 'catching up' with their mates. What a joke. On more than one occasion I have dumped a broken child in their parents lap and said "You might want to deal with this".

  5. I've had this happen at the beach, my sister will bring her three kids along with us and then plop down on her lawn chair...with her back to the water. WTF?

  6. Once again, my point is proven: there should be a license to be a parent and someone like that cuckoo mama is not fit to be a parent. Parenting is a responsibility. Not something a person can choose to be every now and then and take a break from in a way like she does. Hmph!

  7. You are so better than me. I would have picked up her little bundle of joy and placed him in her lap. And informed her that her beautiful bouncing bundle of delight is not able to walk by himself let alone SWIM!!!! I nor any mother here is responsible for her child. And if she does not want any social services in her life than she BEST to take care of her own son.

  8. This makes me so angry I don't think I even have anything to so say.....that won't make me look like a HUGE ass....

  9. This made my stomach hurt. I have seven children and know all about this topic. I think I would have called the police so they could have rescued that baby before something really tragic happens. That poor woman needs a serious wake up call before it's too late.

    You are a good mom!

  10. Yuck, bad parent! I experienced this sort of thing when my son was playing junior sport. Parents would drive by and dump the kids rather than stay, watch and be part of the action. very sad because there were some good times to be had.

  11. She clearly deserved a throat punch.

  12. I'm stunned. I don't have kids and nobody would trust me with their kids no matter how desperate so I have never encountered this.
    What was she thinking????

  13. It just makes me want to yell out for the pretend mommy while simultaneously tipping her child over and then saying, "Uh, thought you might want to know.... don't think he can breathe under there..."
    Yeah, I should never be left in that situation....

  14. Poor child and poor adults who will have to do her job for her.

  15. this woman does sound like she has a mental health problem or that she is seriously ill equipped to look after a child. Somebody needs to speak to her about what is going on. If she's desperate enough to risk the safety of her child AND the disapproving looks of other mothers at the pool when she ignores her infant then she is basically crying out for help (and yes, this is where you call social services, seriously)

  16. Ok, first of all, this is not "Paul" commenting - it's Mari-Ann (counting coconuts)... see my email to you for explanation.
    Now onto my comment. Holy crap woman you are friggan hilarious!!! I swear you had me smiling throughout this whole post. I have a friend who is one such Cuckoo and I opt for the passive aggressive method, too. Gotta love those pent up frustrations.
    Seriously though, this woman at your pool is just horrible. I agree with another commenter - call social services. If she's willing to act like that in public, image what she does (or doesn't do) at home. Sad.


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