As I was walking through the parking lot of one of my favorite places the other day, I observed something I see far too often lately; a loving mother absolutely berating her small child whom, I gathered, couldn’t muster the discipline required to act like a model citizen in public.
“What the f*&! Is wrong with you?” She yelled.
“How dare you embarrass me like that!” She yelled.
“I really hate you sometimes you little $@^$*!” She yelled.
“I swear to God, if you ever act like that again, I’m going to…” She yelled.
I have four kids of my own so I get it, I really do. Kids can be awful; they can test us, try us, get on our last nerve and stay there for what seems like forever. And, even the best parents know that there is no one but our own offspring who have the ability to drive us to the edge of sanity only to wait for exactly the right moment to push us over.
In fact, one of my own little angels was so bad in a store once (we jokingly refer to this as the Wal-Mart incident of 1999) that I swore to myself I would take him home, ground him from everything but air, water, and basic nutrition for a million years, remove everything from his room but carpet, and cancel every birthday, Christmas, vacation, trip to the pool, movie…from that day until the end of time.
So again, I get it, I’ve been there, countless times.
Before I go further, and so no one jumps to the conclusion that I think I am perfect, morally superior, more deserving of a parent of the year award than anyone else, or that I am overflowing with either patience or grace, I’m not. I’ve lost my temper and lost my cool too, all parents have.
What separates me from the yoga pants wearing tyrant I saw the other day however is that, while I do get that kids can be incredibly frustrating at times, I also get that they are kids and that they should be treated with the same respect and dignity every single adult reading this expects to be treated with.
If you don’t believe me, or you side with the poor mom who was just acting out in frustration, or you think parents are entitled to lose it every now and then, imagine if you were treated in the exact same manner this child, who was no more than three by the way, was treated by anyone else.
On a side note here, you, other parents, and your adult friends might buy the premise that parents are entitled to go into full freak out mode every now and then but kids don’t and can’t buy it. They don’t feel your pain, they aren’t empathetic, and they don’t get what it’s like to be a parent with parent problems, adult concerns, and adult frustrations. All they get, sadly, is that mom and/or dad seem angry all the time and that must be how normal adults are supposed to act.
Now Imagine if you walked into your house and were greeted with “I really hate you sometimes you little $@^$*!” from your spouse. How would that make you feel? It would likely result in an epic argument wouldn’t it? Or bitterness, resentment, or a feeling that you weren’t loved? Or, better yet, a feeling that your spouse had something wrong with them.
What if a kid, parent, or teacher at your little darling’s school or daycare center treated him or her exactly the way you do? You would be OK with that, right? At the risk of not looking like a hypocrite, you kind of have to be OK with it, don’t you?
Imagine being called into your boss’ office and hearing “What the f*&! Is wrong with you?” How would you feel? Would you quit or perhaps visit HR to file a complaint?
What if your boss raised his hand in anger and threatened you if you repeated your substandard behavior? Odds are, and especially since we live in a perpetually offended victim society, this wouldn’t sit well with you at all, would it?
Bottom line here is that, while discipline is good, punishment is good, rules are good, and setting boundaries is good; lashing out like a crazed lunatic at people (You know they’re just kids and they do not sit up all night dreaming of ways to make your life miserable, right?) you are supposed to love unconditionally is never, ever good.
If this is what people do in public, what in the world do they do at home behind closed doors?
Exit question: We do live in a society that likes to talk incesently about bullying, respect, tolerance, love, peace…don’t we? I thought we did.