Today marks the end of a week-long series of posts which have given me the opportunity to get a few annoying things off my chest, things that have only annoyed me since I became a parent. The themes have been varied in nature, and have been a mixture of issues that somehow seem to have a wider relevance to my role as a father to two young boys, some being more consequential than others.
I have saved the most petty of my rants until last as I think the things that annoy us the most are often the ones that really have the least importance in the overall scheme of things; but nevertheless have an irrational hold over us. And so it is with what I want to talk about today. This is that it really irritates me when people who do not have children with them park in the ‘parent and child spaces’ at supermarkets.
I think that this annoys me for two reasons. First, because we parents do not really get that much preferential treatment that is as institutionalised as this (being allowed to board planes first being the only other one that springs to mind). Second, those spaces are there because we really do need more room to get children out of cars, so it is the interests of everyone’s paintwork that we park there. Furthermore, since they are closer to the store (presumably the reason why the culprits park there in the first place) this reduces the chances of our children being involved in an accident in what is a very busy and dangerous environment.
Indeed I have lost count of the times that I have driven round looking for a space to park in, because the parent/ child spaces are full, often to find someone getting in or out of a car without a child on sight. Is it really too much to ask that someone walks an extra ten metres so that we parents can have a slightly more comfortable trip to the shops?
So while I would rather someone park there than in a disabled space, I still feel that parking in the parent/ child area is a very selfish thing to do, and worthy of being challenged. Of course we British do not like that sort of confrontation, and no one who has wrongly parked in such a place will expect any sort of come back on it. It gets my goat so much, however, that I have been known to challenge people on it and have got all sorts of responses from feigning ignorance to downright abuse from people who do not seem to see any problem with parking there.
I have stopped doing it now that the boys are getting older though because I think that the last thing I want them to see is me getting into an argument with someone over a parking place, not least because of all the ‘why’ questions that this is bound to generate. I would quickly become ‘irrational frothing at the mouth dad’.
In idle moments I do think that I would like to follow them home and park in their drive, but this would not be the mature response would it? Probably up there with taking a toy just because someone else is playing with it. So I guess I will just try to rise above it, which annoys me too because it is just so irritating.