Today, after work, I was standing in a chilly drizzle at my bus stop, hands in my pockets, wishing I were wearing some sort of shoe with socks instead of ballet flats, when I saw an appalling display of poor parenting. Near me, also waiting at the stop were two other young women, one with a baby on her hip, and the other with a toddler in tow. The mom-of-toddler was juggling a couple of plastic grocery bags and talking on her cell phone. Toddler was guzzling a little plastic bottle of Kool Aid and eating Chex Mix.
Then I heard it. The kid finished the Kool Aid and didn’t just drop the bottle, she threw it on the ground, with gusto. Of course, I expected to hear the immediate “Pick that up, we don’t do that!” But no. Instead, MOT stomped on the bottle to smash it and then did the craziest thing. She kicked it about half a block, walking, and kicking, and walking, and kicking, until she was several feet away. Then she left the plastic bottle on the sidewalk and walked back to the stop. It was the most effort I’ve ever seen someone put into littering. I can’t understand why it wouldn’t have been easier to just reach down and pick up the bottle and put it in the plastic grocery sack, while telling the child that it’s not OK to throw trash on the street. But what do I know. I thought about going and picking up the bottle, as I’ve been known to come home with my messenger bag stuffed with the cans and bottles I find near the stop and toss them in the recycling, but I thought it might cause some sort of altercation. Some days I just don’t get people.