Glimpses of parenting
You must login to vote
Having no grandchildren myself, all I see of three-to-five-year olds is incidental. And the incidentals are not pretty. Today, there was a "Zoey" sitting with her little sister in a wire grocery basket their mother pushed . Well, Zoey began to scream in a most piercing voice, and would not stop. Soon, the little sister provided stereophonic sound to her older sibling's screeches and elevated the noise to decibels I would call "annoying". This went on for seconds which felt like minutes, then minutes which felt like hours.
I'm trying to concentrate and price-compare and select my purchases and have a conversation with my husband. My husband who is with me, not my husband at the end of a cellphone. I'm having to raise my voice above the deafening screams, and so is he. I opt, finally, for a long stern look directly at the mother, who still has said and done nothing. My husband tells me it's none of my business. He's right: it's not. Except the bratty kids are messing with my peace. So I accompany the stern look with "My God!", spoken with great disdain. Ask anybody, I do disdain really well. So then Zoey's mother, in a tone which I would qualify as "whiny", says to Zoey: "Zoey, be quiet". Does Zoey suddenly go quiet? Not exactly. Zoey yells even louder.
In this twenty-first century, it appears that corporal punishment for misbehaved children has gone into great disfavour. The temper tantrum prevails. Effective discipline fades into a background of absolute permissiveness. Children are not taught how to behave in public places. Because children are royalty and all of society should bow down before them and allow them everything they fancy. Because there is no such thing as a "spoiled" child. All children are always fresh and wonderful, under every circumstance.
I suppose that if I were thirty-five years younger and having children myself today, I would be arrested for slapping them and disciplining them in public. I suppose I would be charged and incarcerated. So I guess it's a good thing that my mothering of little ones is long over. I'm not fond of the idea of jailtime.
Speaking about jail, neither of my two have ever, in their thirty-plus years, been in trouble with the law even slightly, for any reason whatsoever. Even my ninety-year-old Mom tells me my kids turned out good. And they got spankings, from both me and their father, whenever they earned spankings.
What about Zoey in twenty years? When I'm eighty and shuffling across a wide street, will she honk at me then run me over with her car because she never learned tolerance as a little kid? I wonder...
Then there's that whole thing about two-year-olds drowning in backyard swimming pools at a more rapid rate than any previous summer. In backyard pools, all closely supervised two-year olds have a great time in the water and all closely supervised two-year-olds make it out of the pool alive. Simple as that. Closely supervised. Closely. Means never take your eyes off the two-year-old. Never. What's so complicated about that? What part of that don't parents get? And then news media types interview bereaved parents following the drowning of their toddler and the interviewee says "I'm a good mother". Oh really, lady? No, you're not! You just made it easy for your baby to drown. What's so good about that? Parental negligence that results in death should bring on guilt. "Oh, but I only looked away for a second"..."oh, but I was texting"... "oh but the doorbell rang". What are you, stupid? This is the same as drowning your toddler on purpose. Having no judgement is not compatible with good parenting.
These glimpses of parenting live in my consciousness as either live bratty kids or dead neglected kids. Somehow, though, there is neglect apparent in both examples.
Of all known institutions, I attend only two: church, in my heart, and school, in yours. Both are subject to demolition. - Lucie Adams, 2007
It is only for poetry to know how many stanzas fit into one caress. - Lucie Adams, 2008