Didn’t I warn you I’d have more of these?

Today’s phrase is, “They’re only children.”

These three words are often used by parents to excuse bad behavior from their offspring. Well, sorry, Mom or Dad, but I just don’t buy it. Case in point:

Earlier this week I took the kids mini-golfing and go-carting at a small local establishment. Behind us on line for the go-carts were three girls, aged approximately 12-15, and I’m assuming, an older brother–maybe 18 or 19, tops. Mom hovered in the background somewhere. Now, The Girl is an avid go-carter, thanks to her many years in summer travel camps. The Boy’s only driven his own go-cart once before. And me, sheltered as I am, have never driven one in my life. So while we waited on line, I received a quick rundown on the-green-foot-pedal-means-go, red-means-stop from my resident expert. When the gates opened, allowing us to enter, these four kids barrelled past us to get to the carts they wanted. Rude? Yeah, a little.

Then we get on the track. Now all around the track are these huge signs proclaiming, “No bumping!” Knowing my son is a little hesitant, I advise him to stay away from the pack, stick to one side, and just enjoy himself. I would ride behind him to make sure he was okay. Little did I know this band of heathens wouldn’t respect anyone else’s rights to a good time. They’d come whizzing around the track, three abreast, on a roadway meant to be shared by two carts only. Twice they sent me careening into the guard rails. When they sent me and my son into the rails a third time because they tried to squeeze four carts past, I blew a gasket. On the next turn I complained to the ride operator. The guy was too busy texting on his cell phone to look up and respond.

My Girl refused to take this abuse lying down. She made it her life’s work for the last few laps of the ride to block these four houligans from getting anywhere near us. She steered left, then right, then left again, keeping up her speed, but never allowing them the opportunity to pass her. At one point, two of the girls in the other party attempted to pass her anyway and wound up crunched against the rail, their engines stalled.

At the end of the ride, I stepped out and approached the oldest member of the party–the Big Brother. “You know,” I said, “someone should teach those kids some manners.”

His reply? (Oh…you know it’s coming…) “They’re only children. They were having a race.”

I pointed to my son and daughter and said, “They’re only children also. But they would never disregard the rules posted on a ride.”

Of course the guy shrugged and said nothing. I headed straight for Mom, repeated my complaint, and received the same response. This, however, was an adult. Someone who should know better. So I took it one step further. “Yes, I’m sure those words will give you comfort when they hurt themselves or someone else someday because they were never taught to respect rules or care about others.”

I left her slack-jawed. My kids were cheering, “Go, Mom!” as we left the park.

PARENTS: We were all children once. The rest of the world should not have to cater to your brats because you don’t have the backbone to guide them properly. Be a parent, a role model, someone your kids can look up to and emulate. We’ll all benefit in the long run.

I’ll step off my soapbox now.