Open Letter to Parents of Screaming Child


I’d like to address this to the lovely woman (and her understandably quiet, seemingly embarrassed husband) who took little screaming Junior to Wild Oats in Lexington, Kentucky on Saturday.

Dear Mother –

No, I did NOT roll my eyes at your child. Had I rolled my eyes at anyone, it would have been at you. My sister tells me that I exude disgust without the need to roll my eyes and that I’m terribly transparent. She’s probably right. My apologies. Obviously, you misconstrued my total disgust with eye-rolling. I’m not sure how that happened.

However, having a child in a public place that screams at that decibel rate and in that particular key (I think it was a high c, although no glass actually shattered), is not ok. Perhaps you have been led to believe otherwise. I can understand that you may have been instructed incorrectly at some young impressionable age, but you are surely old enough to know better by now. If not, you may want to seek professional help.

To yell at me, “There’s no reason to roll your eyes, he’s just excited!” does not eliminate your responsibilities to others (many of whom WERE rolling their eyes, BTW) who must share the public space with your adorable child. Did it not occur to you that it was strange that you had to blurt that well-practiced line so quickly while Junior was taking a breath before screaming again? He nearly cut your mini-speech off with his tireless squeals.

At what point did it become ok for your child (or anyone else) to invade the sanctity of my personal space in such an offensive manner? The old adage about your freedom to swing your fists stopping at the edge of my nose also applies to my ears and your precocious child’s vocal cords.

I would understand if it was a sudden outburst and you scrambled to educate your child on how to be a better, more sensitive individual and a more pleasant member of society. Instead, you opted to condemn those of us who were surprised by your incredulous incapacity to even recognize a problem. Let me tell you a little secret… just because your child wants to be the center of your attention and your world does not mean that he should automatically be thrust into the spotlight in ours. There, I said it. Believe it.

I realize it’s old fashioned of me. I realize that I’m not “cool” with the new trends toward lenient parenting. I’m an old fogy. That’s ok. I can live with that. I actually like that my own young daughter’s mouth physically dropped open in disbelief as your child expressed himself.

But if you had not been so quick to jump — if you had not had that comment a little too “at the ready” — perhaps you may have noticed the entire fresh produce section stop in their tracks and turn to stare when Junior demanded center stage. He truly is hard to ignore. Bravo for you!

If you want Junior to be the center of attention, you might try for a more subtle approach. Perhaps a talent or a skill. Maybe he will be an amazing adult… but somehow I think he may need a little more guidance than you are obviously willing (or able) to offer.

Do him a favor, do yourself a favor, do the rest of us a favor… discover a better way for him to claim his fame. And, if you can’t control his abuse of other people’s eardrums, leave him at home. In fact, why don’t you stay home with him and properly adore him at close range and in private?

Your husband appeared to be mannerly … maybe he could do the shopping.

note: photo courtesy of, artist: xenia.

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