Wal-Mart is hell on earth. Wal-Mart on a Saturday is Hell itself, (Release the hounds!), and Hell is a freakin’ busy place. I try to avoid it like the plague, although I do pass through it from time to time in order to get to the mall on the other side. (Of Wal-Mart, not Hell. There’s no mall in Hell, although my son would beg to differ. Also, Hell is an inevitability; I’m driving the bus).
But I digress. A few years ago, one sunny Saturday afternoon, my son and I were performing one of these “cut-throughs” , when we passed a family shopping. Really we passed hundreds of families shopping but the story only relates to this particular one. Father, Mother, young son, and younger daughter. And I’m sure there was a pet at home; they had that look. There they are, standing in an aisle looking at the bicycles. (I remember this because I had to run a post pattern around them). The mother was offering suggestions to the boy, who was around 9 or 10. I got the impression, however, that the boy didn’t like her ideas very much when he yelled out, loud enough for most of the store to hear, “NO MOM! YOU’RE SO STUPID”. To which she sheepishly shrugged. She shrugged!! Atlas shrugged honey. Your circumstances required a little more action. I paused long enough to note that there was, in fact, no retribution forthcoming, picked my son’s jaw up off the floor, and moved on in disgust.
Once in the mall, my son turns to me and says quietly, “Wow.” (Yup, that pretty much mirrors my own feelings buddy). “You would never have let me get away with that.”
You’re damn right I wouldn’t! Something he learned at a very young age. As was the case when I was young. Such behaviour was not tolerated. And I don’t mean not tolerated in an ooooh-you’re-going-to-get-a-time-out-when-you-get-home kind of way. I mean, I would have been lucky to be able so sit comfortably for days afterwards. I would have gotten an ass-whooping right there on the Wal-Mart floor. And if a family friend or neighbour happened to walk by, I would have gotten it from them as well, and then once more at home, just for good measure. I recall being “disciplined” for sitting on my aunt’s coffee table at a family gathering. In hindsight it seems a little extreme, but my therapist says I need to move past it.
The person who invented the “time-out” concept clearly didn’t have children. It was probably mentioned as a lark by some bored psychiatrist at a party, (what stimulating company they must be), and some desperate parents latched on to it faster than a stripper on a twenty. If I were a kid nowadays and was given a time-out, I’d skip, yes skip, over to my designated “time-out” space, and have a good ol’ chuckle at my parents’ expense. Punishment has gone the way of the dodo. From a time where anyone and their mother could beat you, to now, where at school, children learn to say “I’m going to call child services on you” before they even learn their ABC’s. And don’t start getting all self-righteous on me. I abhor any form of child abuse. People who beat children should be tortured until the end of their days, and may that be really, really far into the future. But there is a vast difference between that, and applying discipline so that a child can experience the consequences of his or her actions and then learn from them. A time-out and other passive techniques aren’t consequences, they’re just comical. And children know it!
I’m not the perfect parent. No one is. And I realize that not all things work for all people. But take a look at kids in today’s world as opposed to ourselves when we were younger. Sure, the world around us has changed, but kids are still kids. We were respectful and polite. What can be said of today’s generation of ankle biters?
It’s one of the biggest clichés out there, but I’ll use it anyway. It takes a village to raise a child. And I can guarantee you, the village didn’t put the child on a “time-out”.