I’m not a mother and I’ll be the first to admit that I really don’t possess a maternal bone in my body.
And even though I’ve never walked in your Payless flats, I have a deep, abiding respect for what you do. I know how difficult motherhood is and I know that with all it’s dilemmas and sacrifices, it’s also extremely rewarding. It is also extremely important.
You shape young minds. You are the first interaction children have with other human beings; with life, nurturing, education, values, manners, with love and affection. Without those vital components, children grow up to be angry, jaded comedy writers living in Houston.
I will admit that I adore my nieces and nephews. They’re adults now, but even when they were younger, that was fine because I could give them back to their parents after needing them as throw down progeny for whatever reason, but generally speaking, I’m not a fan of the kinder. And when they’re loud and screaming and unruly regardless of locale, it’s enough to make me seek copious amounts of Lithium.
Therefore, I must ask, what is it with some young mothers these days?
A few days ago, I was in Target shopping for sundries, but my experience was sullied by a screaming child. Not just the occasional outburst, this was incessant shrieking. The phrase, “plaintive wail” comes to mind. I made my way over the Mens’ Department to take a peak at this erstwhile junior banshee. It was a little girl, strapped in the Target trademark red shopping cart; her older brother frantically kicking at a display of folded T-shirts as the mom, blithely ignoring her obnoxious charges, rifled through a sale bin.
She was either unable to hear the decibels with which her daughter was screaming or willfully chose to ignore the situation. I looked for any obvious sign of discomfort. None that I could see. Did the child have a disability that was discernible? Again, nothing that I could see. All indications pointed to this being nothing more than a very unruly little girl, undisciplined, unattended and futility demanding attention.
The young mother did nothing to quiet or comfort the child, at least she did nothing during the excruciating 12.7 minutes that I had to spend in the department next to them. The child was loud, annoying and extremely bothersome. I shook my head; another shopper covered his ears. Yet, the young mom seemed oblivious to everything.
Sadly, I’ve seen this scene repeated many times. So, my question is how could this happen? Why does this happen?
When I was a child, I would NEVER acted this way and certainly had I, the situation would have been handled efficiently. The fear of my mother’s pinch or slap was as bad, if not worse than the actual physical contact. Then there was the fear of the dreaded “you just wait till we get home” spanking. Even when she’d give me that “look”, that was enough to instill the fear of God in me and by God, I mean the fierce, vengeful Old Testament version.
I can’t say every young mother is guilty of this, but obviously, when a young child is screaming, a basic knowledge of biology and gynecology will tell you that a younger mother is usually part of the equation. Additionally, I don’t know what was coursing through this particular young mother’s mind; why she allowed her child to scream without blinking an eye, but from the perspective of my incredibly victimized ears, I would think her completely selfish. Her child, her life…everyone else–deal with it. She showed utter lack of consideration for the shoppers around her. I would go one step further and say she showed utter disdain for everyone in the store.
I don’t understand this at all. What happened to respect? Is good taste now passe? Has breeding just become another word for procreation? Has a misplaced and errant sense of entitlement surpassed common decency?
Now, permit me reiterate that I understand the plight of all you young mothers. You’re tired, you’re frustrated and probably completely unappreciated for all your efforts, but does that negate appropriate displays of manners, tact and diplomacy? And didn’t Doctors Spock and Linden Smith tell us time and time again that children need and want structure?
And what about this new mode of contemporary child rearing? Why aren’t more kids being censured for this kind of behavior these days? Are we scared that any disciplinary “pop on the butt” could and would be misconstrued as abuse and we’d be reported to Child Protective Services? And is a liberal, hands-off approach to child rearing working? How effective are “time outs” and really, is this any way to reason with a young child?
The reality is this: young children, especially unruly ones have no business being in public. Parents have no right to foist ill mannered children on the populace. Sorry, but this is true. Young, unruly children should not be in nicer restaurants. Young children have no business in theaters, especially during movies not geared for kids. This is why Fischer Price and Walt Disney invented babysitters. If you can’t afford a babysitter, you damn sure can’t afford dinner at a nicer restaurant or the 18 dollars you’d shell out for a pair of movie tickets.
And DO NOT tell me that sometimes children misbehave because they feel bad. I understand this, but if that is in fact the case, why then are they out in public and not at home enduring Pink Eye or teething in private?
And furthermore, if you have no other recourse than to take your child with you, then you should have the sense to train…yes, I said TRAIN your children to behave correctly and respectfully in public. If they don’t and their behavior is disruptive in any way and you as a parent refuse to handle the situation either by calming or removing them from the premises, then you should be held responsible and fined exorbitantly for disturbing the peace.
As I see it, one of the biggest culprits contributing to this problem is that so many people today have absolutely no class; they’re completely devoid of it. And let’s get something straight; class has nothing to do with socio-economic status. It’s not indicative of where or how you live, the kind of car you drive, the labels on your jeans or the amount of money in your bank account. Class is demonstrating kindness, respect, proper behavior, reasoned reactions and abiding by the rules and regulations of polite society. It is reflective in good manners–regardless of situation or circumstance and it’s the willingness to make the tiniest of sacrifices in order to be considerate of others.
Everyone can use a primer in what class is and isn’t, but young mothers in particular, I beg you to learn the difference.