Hey, Look at Me! I'm a Good Parent!

I hate show-off parents. You know what I’m talking about and if you don’t, you might be one yourself.

To find out, take this easy show-off parent quiz.
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions or you’re mad at me now for hurting your feelings, then you’re a show-off parent. Sorry about your bad luck.

Statistically you’re more likely to be a show-off parent if you’re a dad. There are more dads than moms on the playground and in the book store, the library, the grocery store and Toys R Us who are saying to their kids, “Let’s get the Babar stuffed animal next time, shall we? Because we’re going to the park today, aren’t we? What do we do at the park? We slide down the slide and swing on the swings. Do you like when daddy takes you to the park?”

Everyone in the store can hear this because the show-off parent is over-enunciating and talking loudly enough for everyone to hear him over the sounds of me barfing three aisles over.

These guys are so darn proud of themselves for taking a day off work and taking their kid on an outing, they want the world to know that they’re a caring dad and that they didn’t agree to take Madison to the playground just to catch a smoke away from the wife.

In the grocery store, show-off parents want everyone to know that they’re raising their kids the healthy, whole-grain way. Just the other day I was mulling over which jumbo pack of Little Debbie Cakes to buy with my coupon and I could hear this guy shouting at the child in his cart, “No, sweetheart, we’re not buying those. We don’t eat that. That’s icky. We’ll buy some fruit. You love fruit, don’t you? Bananas, aren-ges, grapes, aren’t they yummy? And for lunch we’ll have veggies . . . cah-rots, mmmmmm! They’re so good for you.”

Oh give me a frickin’ break. That little kid would pimp out his dad to Little Debbie herself for just one Swiss Cake Roll.

Last weekend I was in my new favorite book store, Books-a-Million, and there was a show-off grandmother. No kidding. I thought the phenomenon faded away with the second generation, but this woman kept screaming out names of classic kids’ books she was willing to buy for her grandson. Everyone in the store knew that she cared enough about Trevor to read him only good stuff. No matter where I wandered, I could hear her talking to Trevor, who was standing right next to her.

The problem is there is no effective way to deal with the show-off parent. If you make eye contact and smile, letting them know that you heard them and are acknowledging what a great parent they are, that just encourages them.

You really want to ignore them and pretend that you can’t hear them, even though they’re shouting. But they’ll just keep getting louder and moving closer to you, staring at you gleefully so that when you accidentally lock eyes, you are obligated to smile and say something about how cute their kid is.

Some extreme show-off parents will go so far as to directly address you, so you are forced to recognize what a great parent they are. You can have your head buried in a shelf and they’ll say something to you or ask you a question. This is when I pretend I’m deaf. The deaf are immune to the show-off parent because it’s all about the language.

Maybe a direct approach is best. When you hear a show-off parent, you could track him down and go right up to him and say, “Oh my god, your child is so cute! I could hear you talking about the whole grain granola bar you’re going to buy him the next time you’re riding your bikes home from Build-a-Bear and I just had to come over and tell you how happy I am for you! That’s so nice that you’re out with your son today. My husband hasn’t spent as much as an afternoon with my kids since the day he lost his job and started day trading and selling all of our books and shoes on eBay.”

I don’t know, I’m more comfortable faking a heart attack. That’ll teach them to try to get all the attention.

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