One of life’s great mysteries

These days I am seldom able to go shopping for groceries without having my quiet thoughts about the latest bargains interrupted by ear-piercing shrieks of hysterical pain and terror.

It’s the exact sound you’d expect a child would make while being brutally slaughtered by the local psychopath. But when I go rushing around the corner to the rescue, it always turns out to be some Mum trying to get the shopping done, while her three-year old brat thrashes and kicks in an uncontrollable frenzy over the chocolate bar they’ve just been told they can’t have.

My wife has long since forbidden me to ask the obvious questions at such moments, like ‘does Ritalin come in industrial spray cans?’

Do you ever have experiences like this?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014


12 thoughts on “One of life’s great mysteries

  1. My own SWMBO isn’t much on undisciplined children. We were once in a restaurant where a toddler — maybe 3 years old, no more than 4 — was wandering from table to table, watched by grinning parents. When the kid got to Diana she looked at him, leaned down a little, and hissed like a cat. You can imagine the kid’s eyes; you can imagine the two trembling steps backward he took before running to Mommy and Daddy, who just didn’t understand why other diners couldn’t say how cute their Darling Baby was. Needless to say neither Diana nor I were impressed with their indignation. 😉

    1. Yes, it’s a parenting thing…and the worry with the parents who give in and provide the stuff to their kids on demand is that they’re conditioning them to expect instant gratification. All of which, to my mind, is ultimately framed by commercialisation – something so ubiquitous today that we don’t realise it. Real life, of course, doesn’t provide the candy so easily; and we don’t have to go back very far in history – I’m thinking Great Depression of the 1930s – to find times when it was never there. My grandparents lived through that – passing on the concepts of frugality and making do to my parents generation. I was brought up with some of it, too, but I can’t help thinking that the gen now coming to adulthood hasn’t had any experience of a time when they couldn’t gratify their wants for what amount to luxuries, often before actually earning the money needed to pay for it. I probably sound like an old coot, but it’s an obvious point for a historian… 🙂

  2. I have at least one moment like this every single day! I used to feel quite put out by strangers’ unruly little urchins, until my youngest sister had a child … and then another … and then two more … and I saw first-hand how difficult it is to take care of the household chores with a young child (or four) in tow. That said: DOES Ritalyn come in industrial spray cans? It might not be acceptable to spray it on strangers’ kids, but maybe it would help *me* keep my equanimity. 🙂

    1. All of which are a worry when it’s indoctrinated into kids at age 3 – not helped by the supermarkets deliberately placing the goodies in places where the kids will see them, including the checkout queue. Sigh…

  3. A tantrum that produces anything positive for a child is its own form of learning. It’s Pavlov’s dog where the parent has become the dog. One of my most memorable experiences was a little boy who was refused a candy bar. The tantrum kicked in and was accompanied by a mother who proceeded to scream at the child loud enough for half the store to hear, and all the time she was refusing the child the treat because of his behavior. In the end he went over to the rack, grabbed what he wanted, and slammed it down on the counter. She bought it.

    1. Thus validating his tactic for getting what he wanted….and guaranteeing another tantrum next time. You’re quite right, it’s Pavlov – and the parents fall for it as much as the kids.

  4. The ones that I can’t stand at the shops are the ones that insist on running backwards. Why is it that the most fragile members of our society are also seemingly the ones that are also most likely to be the cause of a collision. I can’t remember running backwards in shops when I was a child, but I’m guessing that I probably did.

    1. I don’t think I used to run backwards as a kid either, though I might have. Kids also seem to lurch unexpectedly in odd directions just as you’re trying to get the shopping cart past. Very hazardous.

  5. My domestic CEO and I routinely ask to be seated away from families with small children when going out to eat. We get strange looks sometimes, but more often than not, the hostess understands and provides for our request. On the reverse side if we see a family with well behaved children, we will make comments to the parents as to their good parenting skills. Once again we get some strange looks, but I think the parents should be complimented for a job well done.

    1. I agree. A lot of it comes down to parenting, and it’s a skill that seems to be in decline these days. I suppose it’s possible that those of our generation just don’t ‘understand’ (or something) – but the counter to that is that there are some obvious parenting standards, some obvious ways of getting to those standards…and all too often they don’t seem to be getting taught to kids. It’s too easy to dump the kid in front of TV or the computer and wander off to do something else, or to let them have whatever they ask for as a quick and easy way of shutting them up. But is this going to raise dimensional human beings? A generation accustomed to instant and easy gratification of want, at the expense of caring? I do wonder.

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