So, today I’m mulling over two recently witnessed acts of misbehavior.

The first one, I didn’t see myself. A friend’s son goes to this school, and told me that when she went to pick him up one day last week, cops were all over and the building was on lockdown. Scary for any parent! But then you read the article about what happened, and I’m just flabbergasted. Read here: Eight adults arrested at awards ceremony at elementary school.

This is probably a sure sign of my age, but I cannot IMAGINE my parents, or any of the parents of my generation acting out like that in public; much less at an awards ceremony at their child’s school!

And then we look at kids’ deteriorating behavior and question where they get it from? You sure can’t just blame movies, cartoons and video games when kids’ own parents are acting so foolish over what amounts to nothing.

The second scenario happened today at my OB/GYN’s office. There is a sign hanging up in the waiting room that says no children–aside from nursing newborns–are allowed. And as someone with a wonky immune system, I appreciate that rule. Not to mention that we preggos are notoriously moody and don’t want to sit there for an hour listening to someone else’s child whining and acting up when we think we’re entering a child-free zone. And not only that, this office plays these women’s health videos in the waiting area and they’re pretty graphic in their discussions of birth control, the mechanics behind infertility, and what that volcano in the KY lubricant commercial is supposed to signify…if you know what I mean. Not exactly stuff young kids need to be hearing in detail.

But like the parents in the story above, it seems like so many just blatantly refuse to respect anyone’s rules. Every time I’ve been to an appointment this pregnancy, I’ve seen at least one or two kids there. I can understand having sympathy for the moms–especially single moms–who don’t have readily available babysitters or child care. Still, most people can find someone trustworthy to leave a child with for the duration of a doctor’s visit, if they try hard enough.

So today, this woman comes in with two little boys. They appeared to be about 6 and 8. She was there for the same reason I was, to take a 3-hour glucose tolerance test. And as the name implies, that means being AT the doctor’s office for a full three hours for repeated blood draws during the test period. I had just read the first page in a new book when they walked in. When I heard why she was there, it was like, “Well, there goes my time of peaceful reading!”

I am not unsympathetic to the ways of little boys. But these two were obnoxiously loud. Then when the mother went to the back to have her first sample drawn, all you-know-what broke loose. The boys were yelling at each other and even started slinging punches. They knocked a couple of chairs over, and finally a huge man (the husband of another patient) got up and made them sit down and be quiet. I’d hoped that when the mom came back out to the waiting area, he’d say something to her about it. But he didn’t. None of the other ladies said anything, either.  I think their reasons were the same as mine: those boys’ mama looked like she could beat the pulp out of me with one hand tied behind her back. And I really didn’t desire to see a local headline like this: “Local Columnist Injured in OB’s Office Brawl”.

Thankfully, the mom took them outside and only came back in for short periods when it was time to have her blood taken again. Each time she went in the back, their behavior escalated, though not to the degree of the first time.

But then I ended up feeling sorry for those boys. The older one was describing some scene from a horror movie and the younger one couldn’t recall having seen it. So the older one said, “You know—it was that movie we saw in the shelter!” 🙁

Later, a woman about my age came in with her very pregnant daughter. The girl appeared to be around 13 or 14. And I just left there feeling so sad for those boys and for that girl. I don’t know their stories, only the glimpses I got today. But as Father’s Day approaches, I can’t help but wonder how much of the chaos we observe today is related to the absence of strong male role models in so many children’s lives. It breaks my heart.