I think it’s time to talk GOFs, otherwise known as Grumpy Old Farts. A major drawback of having kids is that it brings out the GOF in, what normally is, a “sweet old dear” (SOD).
You see, you don’t really notice GOFs before you’ve had kids. Its unlikely you’ll have had any major run-ins with a GOFs, as prior to the arrival of kids, we seem to be, well, not really on each other’s radars. Kids are the catalyst for turning a SOD into a GOF, so consider yourselves warned.
My first worst kind of GOF is the genius (normally found wafting round shopping malls) that mutters under their breath “that child needs a good hiding”. Do they not see that you’re at your wits end? Can they not see you grinding away the enamel on your teeth? Can they not hear your silent prayer to any deity who’ll listen? Can’t they read by the very look on your face, that you’d dearly love to take harsh action but are trying desperately not to make a scene? Surely experience has shown them that if you actually want to stop said kid crying/tantruming, whacking them is not the way to do it. Been there, done that, got the wailing-even-louder child.
To make matters worse, said wailing-child is normally insisting on some hateful toy from the Crazy Store that will break exactly 30 seconds after you have left the shop. You’re using your calm, serene, Waldorfy-mom voice, hoping like hell your child will see reason when all you really want to do is smash every shirty Chinese made toy in the store, so that you will never have to repeat this scenario again. And then the GOF pipes up. You toy with water-pistol whipping them but only manage to muster up a deadly glare.
My second worst kind of GOF is the one that goes to restaurants that actually have a kiddie’s menu, and expect not to see or hear any children. Um, if that’s not enough, surely the wild-west theme is a big enough hint about who this restaurant is meant for? These are GOFs from the “children should be seen and not heard” era. How to I explain to them that GOFs should neither be seen nor heard? That although the sound of my kids may offend them, the very sight of them offends me. To the bone. Strikes a cord of terror that I too, will look, hear (and in some nasty circumstances, smell) like them one day too.
There should be warnings for GOFs in family restaurants. Real live children. Will talk. Will chatter. Will bump your chair. And GOFs should be handed a manual before leaving home. Dining out 101: Avoid restaurants that have kids menus dumbo. Go to the Mount Nelson if you don’t want to see kids you bloody plonker. You know, that kind of thing. How do I diplomatically say to them that if you’re a GOF you’d better start looking cute (remember, you’re up against some very cute kids) and behaving quietly (like a sweet, SILENT, garden gnome) if you don’t want the living Zimmer frame kicked out from under you?
My real whinge with GOFs is that they are low on tolerance and high on advice. If I can be tolerant for 6-8 hours of the day with my kids, GOF’s can suck it up for an hour or so. And if they can’t suck it up they need "Sweet Old Dear" off. And lastly, if they’re going to dispense with advice, they can make it … nah, on second thoughts, they can actually just shut up, I’m already doing the best that I can.