Sunday, March 16, 2014

The high-risk, high-reward world of horrible parenting

We should probably get this out of the way right off the top. Parents of the world: I have no interesting in kidnapping and/or murdering your children! None!
But if I did (and I don’t), I can assure you, you made it very easy for me.
I volunteer at a cat adoption center. Basically, I clean cages, let cats run around in this little room and just have fun with the kitties for a few hours every weekend.
The adoption center where I volunteer is located off to the side of a large, chain pet store, but I’m not affiliated with said pet store in any way. I wear no uniform or name tag while I’m there.
One side of the room is all large cat cages, the other side is almost all floor-length windows, so shoppers can look in, see the kitties and hopefully find one to adopt.   
How does me being nothing short of an animal-loving hero tie-in to me not kidnapping and/or murdering children?
In my two plus years volunteering there, I’ve noticed one thing: Parents all secretly hate their children and want nothing more than to get away from them, even if it’s just for a few minutes – even if it means sticking them with a complete stranger in a mildly isolated tiny room.
Ladies and gentlemen, that’s where I come in. Meet the complete stranger.
I can’t calculate the number of times parents have dumped their kids in the adoption center with me and then just plain disappeared for huge chunks of time. Hell, why pay for a babysitter when a weird, uniform-less, name tag-less, greasy-haired guy in a pet store can totally do the same thing for free?
I mean, that’s just good business. Miserable parenting, but awesome business.
I’ve had parents knock on the glass to be let in, send in their kids and then watched the adult vanish like a teen-aged runaway, leaving me to entertain the kids.
Incidentally, this phenomenon is significantly more common around Christmas time, which I guess makes sense because if your kids are dead in a ditch somewhere, you don’t have to buy them Christmas presents.
So again, business.

I’ve had kids left with me for anywhere from a couple of minutes to over an hour. AN HOUR!

As I mentioned, the one side of the adoption center is almost all floor-length windows. There really isn’t anywhere to hide in there, so maybe parents feel safe.
The thing is, the windows look out into an aisle in the store. Unless you’re in that aisle, you can’t see in. So there is a little more privacy than you might initially think.
Also, the adoption center is close to the store’s very isolated and empty loading dock, a storage room and … dun dun duunnn! A back exit.
Now, see here: One of the biggest reasons I volunteer there is that I love cats. One of the biggest reasons I try to avoid children is that I don’t really like them all that much. So this does not sit well with me.
What that means, parents, is that even though I don’t plan on harming your kids in any way, I also don’t want to watch them, either.
Here’s the thing that really gets me.
Each week I put out a donation jar. That money goes back to helping our foster moms care for the truckloads of cats that they rescue.
The absolute least you could do is slip a buck or two in there and I think I’ve only seen this happen once or twice.
I’ve often considered implementing my own policy where all kids must be accompanied by an adult. Sort of like the adoption center was an R-rated movie. If a kid tries to walk in, I should just scream: “Where’s your ID?!?” and chuck him or her out until they can find a parent or a homeless person to escort them in.
Exactly like I learned during my movie theater days.
But I haven’t, for the same reason I haven’t killed or kidnapped any of the kids left in my charge: Because I’m a fairly nice guy. Nice enough anyway that I won’t stand up for myself and tell people to stop taking advantage of me.
Side note to parents: When your kids are eventually killed or kidnapped by someone who’s most-assuredly not me, I don’t want to see you on the news crying about it. Especially not after we’ve had this little talk.

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