“One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts—just mere thoughts—are as powerful as electric batteries—as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live... surprising things can happen to any one who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place."
Frances Hodgson Burnett,
The Secret Garden
Alright parents, I am going to level with you.
Something has been bothering me for several weeks now and I need some answers. So I am going to be perfectly honest with you, and I need an honest answer in return. I will preface this post with saying that special-needs parents are completely and utterly exempt from these questions. You are all super-hero's in my book. I direct these questions at parents with children that do not have any social challenges beyond just learning to grow together.
In the last month or so, I and my children have had the privilege of being a part of many, many birthday parties/school functions and/or other social gatherings that have involved lots of kids running around like crazy - a mix of kids. All ages, all different school-styles, all different home lives. Usually lots of sugar and/excitement has been involved, so there is a certain amount of grace I am willing to extend. But please, hear me out. You see, I am an observer by nature. I have often talked of this. I watch people. A lot. I watch interactions, re-actions and general social habits of all sorts of people, young, old, parents, kids and everything in betwen. And something lately has caught my eye. A re-accuring theme that is popping up right and left and it is leaving me confused and bewildered and I will admit, more then a little angry.
So I have some questions. And I want honest answers.
1. When did it become perfectly acceptable for kids to yell at their parents? And I am not just talking about little ones, all kids. From the very young, to the young adult. And maybe I am just missing something here. But parents are responding to these...I can only explain them as "angry summons" with a mild, humble "yes sweetie pie?" as if it is the most normal thing in the world.
I am honestly asking this question. Why is it acceptable behavior? Why are parents rolling over, presenting as doormats and allowing their children to speak disrespectfully to them? Is my standard simply off somehow? Am I the only one that see's this as wrong? Please and Thank You are gone, "Mom! I'm Hungry! Get me some food now!" has replaced it. And yet, no one is saying anything about this being not ok.
2. When did it become acceptable for children to destroy property that does not belong to them? To walk into another person's house and trash it? To rip things off of walls, to knock over furniture, to break items...I don't care how old the child is. When your kid is being destructive, whether they are 6 months or 6 years (and I saw both in the last few weeks), you stop them. You remove them from the situation, you apologize to your host. You make amends for the items that have been destroyed...but no, I am wrong again. The answer is...you look on blankly as it happens right in front of you. You don't notice, and when it is pointed out, you shrug it off as if it was bound to happen and don't even lift a finger to help make it right. "If I don't acknowledge it, it will go away" seems to be the attitude.
Why is this ok? I truly need an answer. I am completely appalled and confused. I saw this time and time again and I really don't understand. I wanted to say something, and perhaps I should have. But when the host, and the child's parent are both sitting inches from me and no one says a damn thing...who am I to complain? It left me confused and disarmed.
3. When did it become acceptable for children to scream. And I don't mean just the "kids are having fun" happy yelling of outside play. I mean SCREAM. Yell, shout, screech- sounds that would make a banshee blanch. A complete disregard for those sitting very, very close. Now, I suppose this question may not be fair. I have very sensitive hearing and suffer from tinnitus. So for me, everything is amplified. But for heaven's sake! (And now I sound like an old lady) Can we PLEASE keep our voices at a reasonable level? I tell my children that the purpose of screaming is to alert me when something is wrong. You know the boy who cried wolf? When kids scream (and I mean scream) as a part of normal play, it takes away that alert that parents naturally have to jump up and act at a sign of danger. It all becomes noise. And it makes me want to stick forks into my ears! I truly cannot handle it. And yet "she is just a screamer" seems to answer the question. Of course she is a screamer, she has never been taught how to control her voice! Is this normal? Am I the weird one? I am asking honestly. Why is that ok?
4. Why is it ok for children to push, shove, hit, slap, and body slam one another all in the name of play? Now, if it is a group of older kids I do understand that a certain amount of physical play is fully expected, that doesn't bother me. But if a mixed group of kids are at the top of a playground structure, and the large kids are continually shoving the small ones aside, running the risk of knocking them off the structure completely...why am I the only one that seems concerned. When I actually catch a child mid-air that has been knocked down from 5 feet up...and it is not my own child...and the parent of the older kids just sits and laughs...how is that ok!?! Do you not see the blatant disrespect for another person's body? Their safety? Their well-being? Not to mention waiting your turn to go down the slide! They shrug their shoulders, or mumble a scarcely heard instruction but never, not once did a parent act. Not once did someone remove their child and fix the behavior. Not. Once.
And why am I the only one watching? Why am I the only one asking the big kids to be aware of the small ones? I have to tell my own kids just as much as the others, my kids get distracted and forget just as much as their friends do...but I am there to remind them. But after a while, at several events I found myself giving direct instructions to specific kids who had parents sitting 3 feet away ("please don't throw sand in other kids faces" "grabbing a toy is not ok" etc.). And the parents either nodded along or ignored me entirely...I don't understand.
Why am I the only one? I am honestly asking. When your child is putting other children in danger because they are barreling through and/or not watching where they are going, WHY are you not there reminding? When your child knocks another kid down because they are being reckless, why are you not removing them from play until they have a moment to settle down and re-group? When your kid hits a smaller kid, or grabs a toy or worse, pushes them down entirely - why is it ok to simply not notice? I need to hear the justification. Because I am angry at how these kids are treating one another. I am angry at the hurtful words. I am livid over the disrespectful tones that kids are using when speaking to their parents. And I need to know why.
5. And with this I'll end my rant for now. When did we become ok with our kids being demanding, disrespectful, hurtful and jeering with one another. Especially the girls. Cattiness, insults, one-upping each other when it comes to toys, clothes, shoes, abilities and even worse, friends. It deeply saddens me. And what is worse, I am pretty sure this is a learned behavior. When we as adults speak disrespectfully about one or to one another, it catches on.
How is that ok? Why do we barely blink as we tear down one another with words. Our spouses, our friends, our families. It has become so mainstream we barely even notice when our kids do it to one another faces. Not only that, we are not equipping our kids to stand up and tell someone "that was not a nice thing to say." I hear an angry tone, and see a hurt face and then the subject is changed and the words are simply skipped over and forgotten...by the one who said it. While the one who heard it shrinks. It is ok to use words to tell someone "that hurt me" but we don't teach our kids that. Why not? We have this whole "politeness" thing backwards! We don't see the need for "please" or "thank you" but to tell someone "those were not kind words..." Ooh no! We don't want to be rude!
So we shrink.
I am not a helicopter parent. I like letting my kids figure out things for them selves as much as they can, I do not feel the need to fight all of their battles for them. I want them to be able to experience the lessons that scrapped knees and hurt feelings have to offer. This is not the kind of play that concerns me. I am talking about complete, 100% disregard for anything and anyone surrounding you. And I'm sorry, but give your kids a little credit. They are not too young to understand, these lessons start the moment the behavior does. At least that is what I have always believed...
That is why I am honestly asking. Because it is midnight and I can't sleep because so many of these scenarios are running through my head and I Don't Understand.
The world is a harsh place. Finding a balance for my wee ones can feel like an impossible task. And again I will be honest with you. I believe in the "it takes a village" parenting idea. If my babies are out of line and I do not see it, please - correct their behavior. Because rest assured, I will do the same for your children. If I see danger or malice around a child I will address it, that kind of behavior will not be tolerated on my watch. If this bothers you then please, let me know. I will stop. I will leave your child be, but be fair warned. If you do not correct the dangerous behavior, my children will be removed from your child. Because it is my job first and foremost to keep my kids safe. As it is yours.
My goal, is to place agreeable determinedly
courageous thoughts at the forefront of my children's minds as much as I can, especially when they are small. It is my job as their parent.
For you see...
"Where you tend a rose, A thistle cannot grow.” -F.H.B.
Let us tend our roses well. Both those of our children as well as in ourselves. And let us hold one another accountable. I know I need reminders sometimes. The thorns need pruning quite often.
For God's sake, please! Tend your roses well.