I saw something yesterday that made me scratch my head. Truth be told, i see it all the time these days so i’m constantly scratching my head….for those that have noticed and think i need Selsun Blue…..nope, i’m just scratching my head out of sheer befuddlement. Let me set the scene…..
Yesterday, on my way to a friends house i stopped at Circle K to get some gas. Realizing i forgot my water, i went into the store to grab a bottle….side note here: I grabbed some “Smart” water. At the risk of sounding like a skeptic, ten bucks says it’s just regular water with a “Smart” label attached. We pay an extra buck thinking that somehow we’ll take a sip and our I.Q will go up a notch or two….i’m not buyin it!! Although technically…. i did…. and later when someone asked me who the tenth president of the United States was i yelled RONALD REAGAN!! See what i mean…bogus!! Anyway….back to the story. So i’m in Circle K with my bottle of Smart water waiting in a line about ten people deep. The lady in front of me had her two children with her…for story sake i’ll refer to them as Samantha and Felix. They looked to be around the ages of eight and ten. Two things became instantly clear to me. 1) Samantha and Felix had just polished off two packs of Fun Dip before entering the establishment. 2) Mom had absolutely no control over her kids….clearly she wasn’t the Alpha. Samantha and Felix were running around the store, weaving in and out of the isles screaming and swatting at each other. At one point i saw Samantha grab a bag of Cheetos, she opened them and proceeded to eat one then she threw the bag on the bottom shelf. All the while, mom was standing in line texting on her cell phone throwing out an occasional “kids….knock it off!” That’s when it happened…..right as she was about to pay out, with one older gentleman in front of her, Felix ran up and bumped him from behind. Frustrated after witnessing what i myself had witnessed, the gentleman (in a polite way i’ll add) simply turned around and asked mom if she would get control of her children, in which she replied “Ohhhh…..come on, they’re just being kids!”……
Before i go any further lemme share a few things. I love kids, i love their energy….their minds fascinate me. I love being around them, their innocence and unconditional love is a gift. When i hear stories of kids being stripped of those things it sickens me. I made a personal choice many years ago to not have children. It wasn’t an easy choice, throughout the years i’ve spent time thinking about my decision but at the end of the day, i know i made the right one. At the risk of sounding generic…. to be the mother i would have wanted to be would have required a level of selflessness and responsibility that i wasn’t ready to give. That doesn’t make me selfish, it makes me someone cognizant of my own reality. Bottom line, i didn’t want the responsibility it takes to bring a child into the world in a responsible manner….i wanted my freedom to have my own journey without being responsible for another human being. With that said, my hope was to be the cool aunt! My brother and his wife blessed me with that privilege and i love it! I’m also Aunt Bindy to my cousin Ashley’s kids as well as friends of mine. Whenever i hear them say “I love you Aunt Bindy!” it makes me unbelievably happy:))) I would never pretend to know what it truly feels like to be a parent….i’m incapable for never having had the experience. This is why i am extra cautious when woman share their child birth stories……i never say “I can imagine!” NO I CAN’T IMAGINE….which is why i never say that!! Also, if they’ve just given birth their hormones are all over the place and the last thing i need is a black eye!! Those things take forever to go away…trust me. One time i took a nasty spill and blacked both my eyes. I had to wear really large sunglasses for a month….and….in the winter time i wore my glasses and a ski mask and got the cops called on me twice!! They thought i was a robber! When the cops got there i explained to them that i was innocent and had just takin a nasty spill. They went on about their way realizing i was harmless and thinking i was a battered house wife. I did have two black eyes but there’s a chance that there’s no truth to that last part…….
I’m fully aware that raising children is the hardest job in the world….again, why i chose not to do it. I’m also aware that it’s the most important job in the world which is why i find myself so perplexed when i see these behaviors. I’m writing this because i have a lot of questions, in hopes that someone will join in the conversation and shed some light for me. Some might ask why i care and that it’s none of my business. To those that say that….we can agree to disagree. Your children are my future. In my eyes it becomes my business when your child is disrespectful and, for lack of better vernacular, disturbing the peace! If you allow Samantha and Felix to act that way in the privacy of your home….that is your business. However….this is where the confusion sets in for me. My only point of reference to anything remotely similar to child rearing is puppy rearing…..dog ownership. Before you take offense, i by know means am comparing children to dogs but in terms of discipline, structure and boundaries…. they do have some similarities. Fido comes into this world full of innocence and curiosity….much like a child he knows no boundaries, why would he? Once Fido becomes of age it’s up to the owner to teach him the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. That starts as a puppy. If you don’t discipline and set boundaries with him at a young age Fido will become Alpha and you will become a loving pawn. You’re life will revolve around embarrassment, making excuses and trying to correct Fido’s bad behavior when it’s too late. In other words….unless you put him outside, he’s sure to ruin your next cocktail party and you only have yourself to blame. You can’t lock kids outside….well….i guess you could, at the risk of Felix telling his kindergarten teacher and next thing ya know CPS is at your doorstep, but who wants that embarrassment. It doesn’t take being a dog owner to know that if you don’t teach Fido not to jump, Fido is gonna jump…..that’s common sense! However….here’s the disconnect…..
Much like Fido….as humans we all come into this world full of innocence and curiosity, its human nature. We test boundaries to see what we can get away with. In the case of Samantha and Felix, common sense tells me they have ruined a number of cocktail parties. It was very apparent to me that those kids are the Alpha….they had no boundaries, they exhibited absolutely no respect for their mother not to mention everyone else in their surroundings. When Felix bumped the gentleman, there was no apology nor did his mother make him apologize. Instead, when she was asked to get control she acted annoyed, put out that he would even ask such a thing! Where does that come from? I’m truly stumped by this behavior, not of the children but of the mother…… please tell me if i’m wrong or misunderstanding something. I think Samantha and Felix’s mother is well aware that her children are out of control….society and her surroundings have told her so in one way or another. I’m sure at some point her family, her friends, the school etc have brought it to her attention but for whatever her reasons she has chosen to turn a blind eye. It’s as if she thinks that one day when the kids turn eighteen they’ll wake up one day, don a pair of magic underwear full of manners, respect and effective tools to navigate the real world. Done……let society pick up the pieces of my shortcomings, they’ll figure it out! To me….that’s lazy and selfish…i’ll even go as far as to say a bit cruel. If she truly loves her children and wants them to succeed then wouldn’t she try her best to prepare them for the real world? Society isn’t going to put up with her entitled creation….life is going to eat them up and spit them out. Why would she want that for them? Clearly those kids live with no consequences, here’s how i know. After the episode happened they each had a handful of candy. She told them to put some away…..neither listened and proceeded to put it all on the counter. She did nothing but shake her head in frustration, get out her wallet and reward them for bratty behavior!! So basically….her kids walk into a store, completely disrespect their environment by tearing things up, they disrespected everyone in the store by running around like wild animals, they disrespected the gentleman in front of her by not apologizing and they disrespected their mother by not listening to her the first time she told them to settle down. They did all of this with no consequences that i could see AND they actually got rewarded!! After i left, i was thinking about what would make a parent choose that path with her children….to me it is a choice, some may disagree so feel free to say so. From my naive, non-parent perspective here are a few things i came up with…..
1) Perhaps her child rearing techniques are a reflection of how she was raised….after all, we’re all a product of our environment to some degree. Maybe growing up she didn’t have boundaries. Maybe her parents didn’t demand respect and manners. Maybe she was allowed to exhibit any behavior she wanted with no consequences. Perhaps all of those things are the case…..however….she’s paid a price to some capacity. Life consists of rules, consequences and boundaries…..it demands respect. If your not taught those things from a young age you will pay a price….that price looks different for everyone but its there and you’ll pay it. As an adult you figure that out quickly so why would she pass that on to her kids? Why wouldn’t she take what she’s learned and turn the tide with her own children?
2) Perhaps she’s in a bad relationship and her mind is elsewhere? That could be the case but at the risk of sounding unsympathetic…..get out and go solo for awhile! I’m not saying it’s easy but i have a hard time understanding that one. When you make a choice to bring a child into the world shouldn’t their well being be your number one priority above anything else. If she’s so distracted by her love life then maybe she needs to take all of that energy and focus on her kids instead. Her kids see her dysfunctional lovecapades….who knows….maybe that contributed to Samantha stealin the Cheeto! You may laugh but there could be a snipit of truth in that!
3) Perhaps she’s recently divorced, the kids are going back and forth so she allows bratty behavior out of guilt. You hear this one a lot. Well….that’s scary to me when you consider the divorce rate. Lets say it’s fifty percent. Could you imagine if fifty percent of married couples with children let their kids go wild after the divorce out of guilt!! Again….that sounds like an excuse to me. What are you guilty for? I certainly understand the temporary grief and adjustment but I would venture to guess that young minds ultimately want both of their parents to be happy, kids adapt. Common sense tells me that they pick up when you’re not….my parents are still married but I certainly remember times when they were angry at one another. If that was an everyday occurrence imagine what that could do to them. She did the right thing by getting out! Is it possible that being single and raising children comes with its own stresses and at the end of the day she’s mentally exhausted so the thoughts of disciplining her children feeds the exhaustion so she just lets em run wild and uses guilt as an excuse? Was that a run on sentence…..probably. My point is…..why can’t mothers and fathers just admit it and ask for help? When they say they feel guilty….a lot of us aren’t buying it. Nobody is saying its easy which brings me to my last thought…….
4) Perhaps it’s her ego? I’ll say this….i certainly understand that your children and your relationship with your children are a very personal thing that you hold close to your heart. It’s a relationship that is like no other and you protect it…. as you should. Anyone without children couldn’t possibly understand that connection, that part i get. However….there’s a couple of things that i’ve observed, so help me out here! I’ll use an example of something that i experienced years back. So….i’m sitting at a table with a bunch of women, all of which had children. I was the only one that was without child. Three of them were divorced, one was still married and i was in a long term relationship not allowed to get married….wait….WHAT? Anyway…..they were all talking about their children, exchanging stories of triumphs, frustrations and behavioral issues. At one point i chimed in to offer an outsiders perspective….this didn’t seem o.k with one of the girls. She didn’t get mad but she made it clear that she had no interest in my opinion for i didn’t have children, so how could i possibly understand? I remember thinking that was odd, i didn’t understand that logic. It’s as if she was saying that i didn’t have any experience with children and was completely ignorant to anything remotely sensical in terms of child rearing. That makes absolutely no sense to me. Whenever i’m struggling with something i crave an outsiders perspective….when they have no experience and are not attached in any way to my delimma i crave it even more! When you’re emotionally “in” something….like child rearing, a relationship, an addiction etc…..it’s hard to see reality sometimes. Your mind is fulla too many things, it’s distracted and clouded which leads to irrational decision making. In those times you need to gain perspective from sources both in AND outside your world. It doesn’t take being a parent to offer up advice….when it comes to behavioral issues, anyone can give advice…. we’ve all been children ouselves! We all play a role in our own individual families ….some people that are without child have even helped raise their siblings, or nieces and nephews! For you to say to somebody that you don’t respect their opinion because their without child is bogus to me and perhaps an excuse. Sometimes i question whether or not its about failure for them. When they encounter an issue with their child they may look at it as a failure on their part and because the parent/child relationship is one that is so personal they don’t want to address it for fear of personal judgement. On a cellular level that’s about personal ego and we all have one. My point is…..the old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” is true. At the risk of sounding cliche aren’t we all in this together…we should be. Maybe if we all sat our ego’s aside and actually asked for help we would start to see some positive change. Like i stated from the very beginning, raising children is THE HARDEST JOB IN THE WORLD!! You don’t have to go at it alone….it’s perfectly understandable to admit you need help or a different perspective……
These are just a few of the reasons i’ve thought of in terms of what would make a parent choose that parenting style with her children, i’m sure there are millions more. We all have a story, we all come from different circumstances and navigate our lives a million different ways. Please know that this is not about judgement for me, i truly am trying to understand this mother which is why i’m giving her the benefit of the doubt. Truthfully…..when it comes to child rearing there isn’t a right or wrong per say, everyone has to find their own path. However…..if the path you’ve chosen is one that manifests Circle K episodes then you can’t be surprised if it’s questioned….not judged, but questioned.
Lastly i’ll say this…..there is definitely a trend (for lack of a better word) going on and i can’t be the only one that has noticed it throughout the years. Some kids now days are being thrown out into the world with a sense of entitlement….totally clueless as to how the real world works. We turn on our squawk box and smart phones every day and listen to people talk about the economy, gun control and the latest politician’s sexcapades….i think we need to start talking about what’s going on with our kids. It needs to be brought to the forefront…..to me it’s a serious issue. It shouldn’t just be talked about in the midst of the latest school shooting. These kids are our future. It’s talked about in small settings but i would love to turn on my squawk box and hear somebody say…WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH OUR KIDS, LETS DISCUSS??!! Recently Elliot Rodger went on a killing spree in California, i’m sure you have all heard the story…if not google it, it’s interesting. After hearing what happened i went on UTube and watched a number of videos that he had made prior to the shooting. I even went as far as to download and read the 140 page manifesto he had written. Clearly this was a disturbed kid….without question he was a narcissistic sociopath. However…lets put that aside for a second….one of the things i surmised was that this was a kid who came from extreme wealth, nothing wrong with that part that’s a beautiful thing! From a young age he was probably given everything material he wanted in life. I stress material because he may have lacked visible love and and attention from his parents…they may have showed their love by never saying no, this is the part i question. Some of his UTube videos were shot from his BMW. I would venture to guess, without knowing of course, that this was a kid who had all the latest and greatest without earning any of them. Next thing ya know he graduates high school and goes to college….this was possibly his first experience in not getting what he wanted. In the videos and manifesto he talks clearly about his frustration in not getting the attention he desired from women. He asks…”how can they not want me…look at me…i’m good looking and i drive a BMW!” He felt rejected….for the first time in his life he was told no and he didn’t know how to handle it. To me, a part of that stems from a life filled with things and a warehouse full of yes’s. I’m not at all saying that every child that grows up that way is capable of doing what he did….i am saying that both nature as well as nurture play a hand. Maybe i’m wrong…if so feel free to explain otherwise. Regardless it was an example, albeit extreme, of a lost kid who took his frustrations out on society…we hear it more and more every day. Shouldn’t we collectively try and figure out as well as work together to strengthen and better prepare our kids for a challenging and sometimes unforgiving world. They need to be able to put their big pants on in order to navigate in a healthy manner….correct me if i’m wrong but doesn’t that start at home??