Something I’ve always noticed, (even while still being a child myself) is how apparently normal it is for children to scream, shout, talk back to their parents, ask rude questions to strangers, and generally act like little shits that need tranquilising.
When I was a young child I was far from perfect don’t get me wrong.
I remember clearly telling my mother that I’d told my cousin what we’d bought her for Christmas, kicking off because I got in trouble for telling the truth, (the truth was naughty though so fair one mum) slapping my father when he told me off and being put to my room to calm down. Later on when the red mist had settled, I decided my parents were quite right to punish me but hadn’t gone far enough. I took all my favourite toys, wound myself up to the point of hysterics and buried them in my blue shell sand pit while crying manically calling myself a terrible cousin and monster. I can’t imagine how my poor parents reacted to all this, I also can’t remember because maybe I simply passed out after that show and left them stood there staring in shock with open mouths. I dunno. I was a fucking strange kid at times and I’ve made my peace with it. Because guess what? I would not have fucking dared behave out of line in a public place. That was a different fucking story entirely. Fuck me I hardly ever remember being chastised or punished by my parents because their methods of ‘don’t reward bad behaviour’ and ‘all your actions have consequences’ bloody worked a treat. All the discipline they handed out was so long ago I don’t really remember it, and it was so damned effective they rarely had to repeat it.
Now my parents are very hardworking and smart. But they didn’t have it easy. They didn’t have a team of nannies at beck and call, masses of money to hand or IQ’s over 160. So you can’t put their golden, well behaved child down to amazing circumstances only a lucky few have the pleasure of being graced with. They didn’t fuck around when it came to doing as you were told, and I knew there was no leniency in that statement. I had a very normal upbringing with plenty of love and no beatings or threats handed out, or money based bribes in order to behave…..
Yet somehow it was always crystal clear to me that it was not acceptable behaviour to walk up to a woman on a moving bus and deliberately pour my sippy cup all over her lap and into her partially open bag.
I was very aware that opening all the packets and boxes in the trolley while mummy’s back is turned in the supermarket and smearing whatever could be physically smeared all over my face was completely unacceptable.
When I was happy as larry frolicking around at a day out at the park. BUT! I was always sure to curb my enthusiasm from getting over excited and splashing dirty mud in a Goose’s face that culminated in said Goose attacking me and my long suffering mother. Eventually chasing us both out of the park entirely. I knew provoking wildlife was not a good idea.
When walking down the street, I was instinctively aware that it was beyond naughty to run away from my mother and hide in a hedge giggling softly to myself while she frantically called my name repeatedly and was reduced to tears ringing the police in a full fledged panic. I would have been slaughtered to say the least for pulling that kind of shit.
I could carry on listing the events I’ve been lucky enough to witness or hear about over the years or I could hurry up and get to the point. As much as I don’t have warm broody feelings for children, or in any way have desires for my own someday, (no thank you, not a chance in hell) my annoyance at their behaviour isn’t actually directed at them. I know better than that, they’re children, who only know what their parents tell them. It is their parents fault. Your child’s behaviour and attitude in the ever changing world around them is your responsibility alone.
So fucking get it sorted!
It’s fucking infuriating hearing a parent warn their child for the 3rd, 4th or 5th time, threaten them with some form of punishment but never follow through with it. If you empty threat someone, they figure it out fucking quick. You don’t mean the words you say, and they can carry on with abandon because they are more than intelligent enough to figure out you don’t mean a bit of it. This train of thought works across the board with everyone in your life, including even the family dog. If you’re going to inform someone of what will happen if they continue to disobey, annoy or offend you, you need to be damn well sure you can actually be bothered to carry it out. The second a person realises that you’re full of shit and just shouting angry threats that have little chance of actually happening, you aren’t taken seriously and probably won’t be listened to or respected for a long time after.
This is particularly cruel to enact on a child. A child only knows what you tell it. They are sponges that rely on you to teach them how the world works. Children have a great talent for accepting their surroundings without question and have a great sense of logic too. Children are a lot smarter than most people seem to give them credit for. Children know exactly who they can push the furthest, and also which Aunty will absolutely not put up with their shit.
Every time a child hears ‘Put that down right now or you won’t have any pudding.’ and they’ve been empty threated by you in the past, they will happily run straight off with whatever it is they shouldn’t have, knowing full well when they eventually put it down and accept the potential shouting match, they’ll get their pudding, so fuck it. They can do what they like at their own pace, because you give them no incentive to change their behaviour for the better.
It must seem obvious by this point that I don’t have children. Thankfully, I am around children a lot and on the most part, they’re lovely little creatures. And I also fully recognise that being on the ball with discipline is easier said than done. After a long day at work, doing the food shop, picking up the kids, trying to get something resembling a meal cooked, maybe manage a normal bowel movement without interruption, I can completely understand that an empty threat is sometimes unintentional because you simply don’t have the energy to enforce the punishment when your request isn’t met. But please, if you already know you have no intention of staying true to your word, your child is one step ahead of you I can guarantee it.
So fucking pack it in. The next time I catch a child wiping it’s nose on the back of my skirt in a Queue. The next time I look at the parent in immediate shock and politely hold eye contact hinting for them to impart some kind of guidance or suggest maybe that said child get their grubby mitts off my now ruined silk maxi. The next time this happens I’m fucking praying I don’t hear something along the lines of ‘Stop that now or you’ll go back in your pram.’ Because the next time I then see the child tighten their grip on my tortured skirt in rebellion and refuse to comply and for the parent to follow this action by shouting at them, pulling them away from me and my pretty skirt but never acting on their promise? The next time a situation like this occurs, because let’s face it we all know I’m recounting this one from memory and I can only hope it’s statistically unlikely to happen again in the same pattern of events. But next time a similar occasion comes to pass, I know I will struggle to stop myself from losing it monumentally. I can’t promise I won’t turn my skin inside out, chant a spell to summon Cthulhu the almighty and use him to rearrange the molecules in your brain, (with his Cthulhu magic of course) in such a fashion that you’ll be from then on, physically incapable of straight up lying to your child ever again.
But maybe if I’m lucky I’ll manage to tell you you should be ashamed of yourself and sacrifice my place in this imaginary Queue in exchange for my sanity. And clean arrest record.
All my love and rants, Mandy xx.