There’s a vicious disease running rampant in this country, and it must be eradicated. It’s called humiliate-your-child-itis. It’s reached epidemic proportions and if there’s no vaccine to stop the widespread repercussions, perhaps then, we can apply a more common sense, over-the-counter application called “compassion”.
Last week, I was forced to grocery shop.
But everyone in my family was suddenly copping an attitude about a meal of red beets and soy sauce. Spoiled brats.
As I was checking-out and whining that I’ve turned into my mother because I filled not one, but two carts and required bag-boy assistance to navigate myself back to my vehicle, I overheard a commotion nearby. It was a “father” who was loudly and excessively berating his two children for loading the grocery bags incorrectly.
First of all, children helping with the grocery shopping in any way other than writing “something big and chocolate” on the grocery list is as alien a sight to me, as well, children helping with the grocery shopping.
These children were lovely and well-mannered, as well as being completely terrified of their father. He badgered them endlessly regarding their method of loading the bags and cart.
He spat:”Use your brain! Don’t you know anything?”
He peppered his abusive speech with ripe expletives as well, which only added to his slime potential in my eyes.
The poor daughter was in tears and was begging her father to cease the yelling.
She pleaded: “Please stop embarrassing us, Dad. We’re trying our best here.”
Which I suppose in his addled brain was code for: “please humiliate us further,” because he did.
I was flinging my own slice-and-bake cookies and Cracker Jacks into a bag while delivering to him via parental telepathic laser beam, a signal which to any full-formed parent meant: “Knock it off, moron!”
But he sent me such an evil glare that the hair on my head, arms and upper lip stood on end.
I said: “Excuse me, sir. Maybe you’ve had a bad day or maybe you’re just a huge !@#hole. But you’re senselessly humiliating your beautiful children here. Why don’t you just apologize to them, and really mean it? On the way home maybe you can smack yourself in the head and say, ‘Hey! My kids are a gift! Maybe I should treat them that way?’ What do you think?”
He turned to me and said: “Shut up, lady”
Savvy comeback, Big Man.
I’m shaking in my clogs.
I snapped: “No really, you need to stop.”
And I stomped away, as much as a mother yanking two carts behind her can stomp, anyway.
I’m having a physical reaction to it all.
Is it a control issue with these parents?
An unhappy childhood?
A lost job?
Brain matter missing?
It’s beyond my realm of rationale to take a child who was born loving you completely and tearing away their self-esteem, pride and self-respect layer by layer until all you have left is a scared and demoralized adolescent who’s all set-up for future generations of the same behavior.
At a recent wrestling meet, I was attempting to record my son’s maneuvers via a newfangled camcorder. I should’ve hit “mute” because the entire tape includes long-running commentary courtesy of the Neanderthal behind me bellowing harassing comments at either his son, the coach, the onlookers or God.
The child was mortified but his obvious discomfort did nothing to dissuade his father from his onslaught.
I turned calmly. “Excuse me, sir? I’m sure you’re a lovely man in your off hours, but I can’t record my own kid here because all I hear is your voice plus my own, inner voice making fun of you. You’re making my ears bleed. Please, dial it back a notch?”
To his credit, he did calm down.
You need a license to operate a vehicle, practice medicine, even navigate a boat. You need a permit to own a weapon and cut hair (not simultaneously).
So why do we make it so damn easy for any clown to become a parent?
There should be a pre-parenting test and if you don’t answer simple questions appropriately, you’re Parent’s Permit needs to be revoked.
I beg of you, see yourself through your child’s eyes. You may decide you don’t like the view. In fact, it may disgust you.
Be careful of private or public ridiculing of your children.
You never know what columnist may be lurking behind the canned corn.
Tread carefully and remember: bullies are so yesterday.
Compassion is today.