I'M GLAD it's New Year's Eve, because I can't take another minute of the holiday season.
I don't like mall parking lots filled with texting-while-driving, cell-phone-abusing, ticked-off boobs who'll karate chop their mothers for a space. I don't like toy stores where gladiator parents fight to the death for 20 percent off a video game. I don't like dreaming of the TV commercial Christmas with a new car in the living room and not one tire track on my floors.
You know what I like, though? I like the fact that lots of people manage to muddle through while giving kids something to look forward to at the end of the year. And I love the fact that many of us manage to do it without going overboard.
Sadly, there are parents who don't know the difference between treating kids well and ruining kids for life. You've seen them. They're in the supermarket trying to make their kid stop opening the Cocoa Puffs. They're in the restaurant trying to get their kid to stop hitting the waiter. They're parental negotiators who can't make their kids go to bed without agreeing to buy them an iPad. And for them, I imagine that Christmas season is overwhelming.
It wouldn't be so awful if it was just their problem. Unfortunately, during the week between Christmas and New Year's, when every kid is off from school and their parents are forced to interact with them, bad parenting comes out in the open, and uncontrollable kids become everyone's problem. This creates the annual phenomenon I like to call, O.P.B., or Other People's Brats.
Of course, there are those of you who will ask the inevitable question: "You down with O.P.B.?"
And I will give the inevitable answer: "Oh no, not me!"
I'm not down with O.P.B., because when bratty kids are turned loose on an unsuspecting public, none of us really knows what to do. Heck, their parents don't even know what to do, especially at Christmastime, when everything is supposed to be about kids.
But let's keep it real. As bad as it is to see gift-crazed adults playing parking-lot bumper cars and doing mixed martial arts in aisle five, it's unbearable to see little Johnny ramp up his bratty behavior to holiday levels. So everyone just kind of stands there and watches as the kid wreaks havoc.
Unfortunately, when good parents stand by and do nothing, O.P.B. triumphs.
I witnessed O.P.B. a few days before Christmas when I took my son to the Academy of Natural Sciences to see the dinosaur bones. While there, I watched a contingent of little heathens run amok in ways that the dinosaurs never did.
I witnessed O.P.B. again a few days ago, when a boy who was behind us at the Dickens Village at Macy's kept snaking through the line and trying to rip the nearly 50-year-old display to shreds. He sat on the fake gifts, pulled ornaments off the Christmas trees and drummed on the replicas of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." He stomped the fake snow and pulled the ears of one of the mechanical figures. He even pointed at one of the displays, and in a barely discernable toddler's lisp, said, "I wish I had my gun so I could shoot it."
I was among the handful of horrified parents looking on. The boy's parents were looking, too. Their response? Whiny pleas like, "Don't do that, Jack . . . Come back, Jack . . . Don't touch that, Jack."
Jack ignored them. But his startling display of O.P.B. earned him a nickname. We called him Jack the Ripper, because he almost single-handedly ripped a fine exhibit from Macy's walls.
So, come on, 2011. Help me to ring out the holidays. Although I'll miss the parking-lot mayhem and fights in aisle five, I won't miss dealing with Jack the Ripper. And I definitely won't miss O.P.B.