I’m an apology parent—the type that apologizes for nearly everything my child does. I often utter the words, “I’m so sorry” even before my child does anything wrong. I apologize the moment I enter an airplane, in church, in most public settings. In the grocery store, I often lock eyes with people and give them that, “I’m sorry” look and on the playground, I’m quick to accept blame on behalf of my kids if there’s a commotion involving one of them. My apology is almost always followed by a stern order to whichever kid is standing nearby to “Say sorry!” before I even know the details.

I’m not sure it’s the best way to parent. I often fear my kids are growing up with some sort of guilt complex or are nurturing a deep seeded hatred of me because I never stick up for them. My apologist attitude also says something about me and my parenting style—that I’m a somewhat nervous mom so preoccupied by the idea that we’re all being annoying that I need to constantly seek forgiveness, even in advance of my children’s petty crimes.

Yet there’s also something decent about being an apology parent. To me, it represents a now rare-among-parents recognition that the world is bigger than your child, your family, your personal experience as a parent. Apology parents tend to acknowledge without insult that some people just don’t like or appreciate children and don’t begrudge those who downright avoid them. Apology parents seem to more easily grasp the fact that the world doesn’t have to accommodate their every need or the needs of their children.

Perhaps being an apology parent is why I found the story about the owner of a Portland, Maine diner—called Marcy’s Diner—screaming at a whining toddler so fascinating. Of course, online commenters have wrung nearly every possible perspective out of the story. You’ve got the “how can it be okay to scream at a child” angle, the “hell right, that kid deserved a dressing down” view, the “what the hell is wrong with those parents” opinion and then there are pieces like this that try to see both sides of the story.

For me, the now famous Marcy’s Diner confrontation throws into sharp relief the differences in parenting styles and exposes a very unique kind of parent—the unapologetic parent who is defiant about their child’s right to annoy the world.

Reading about the hubbub at the Marcy’s Diner, I sat in utter disbelief—not at the actual incident, but at the mother’s confidence and inability to see how her child might be disturbing fellow patrons. In fact, after leaving Marcy’s Diner, mom Tara Carson not only complained about the entire event on the diner’s Facebook page, she proceeded to out herself as “that mom” by publicly defending herself and her child in an opinion piece for The Washington Post.

Her piece is a roadmap of what not to do with kids in busy restaurants.  Carson writes:

When we arrived, we were told there would be a 30-minute wait for a table. While not ideal, we knew that on a Saturday morning in a tourist town, there would likely be a wait everywhere.

You bet your pancake, that isn’t ideal!  While there’s much disagreement about what went down at Marcy’s Diner, there’s little debate that making a 21-month old (who was just told she’s about to eat pancakes) wait 30-minutes for a table is a stunningly bad decision. Nonetheless, the unapologetic Carsons decided to wait.

Carson then explains her shock that a small diner can’t crank out orders at the rapid fire pace of the very un-hipster fast food restaurant located down the street:

We finally got a table and ordered food. I ordered pancakes for my daughter, which took about 40 minutes to arrive. At this point, my 21-month-old was getting antsy, as I imagine most would when they have to sit in one place and wait for a long time.

Carson goes on to claim no one “seemed” bothered and so she to let her daughter cry it out at the table. Most parents wonder: did she pack any snacks–A few crackers, a squeezable applesauce, a banana? Maybe Carson could have ordered chocolate milk to tide her daughter over? Did she have distractions? A coloring book or a storybook or a smart phone in a pinch?

Carson doesn’t mention any snacks or attempts to distract her daughter in her confession for The Washington Post. We can only surmise that Carson and her husband simply let their daughter wail for 40 minutes while they waited for the pancake to arrive and then feigned outrage when someone told them to take a hike.

What drives this sort of narcissism? Is it simply an inability to see how a child’s behavior was affecting others? Is it just exhaustion—just being too damned tired to care (this happens from time to time with even the best of parents)? Perhaps it’s a type of parent amnesia—forgetting what it was like before kids? I suspect practicing basic manners is another casualty of this phenomenon.

I’m fairly certain I apologize too much and I need to work on that—for my kids’ sake. But if caring for the feelings of others and recognizing that kids can be annoying and need to be corrected is a parenting failure, I guess I’m guilty.

Sorry about that.