In Regards to the Punched Shopper

Story here. 

Long and short: kid throws epic tantrum in the store. Aggravated shopper asks the mother to quiet the kid down. Gets punched in the face for doing so. Mother is arrested and charged with assault.

My opinion? GOOD!

This may get me flak on many levels, but it has to be said. Yes, my staunchly childfree leanings play into this quite a bit, but here’s the thing: I also didn’t get born as a fully-grown adult, and was raised. So kindly do not come over here with the “You don’t have kids so you don’t know anything!” line. Seriously. Don’t put that here.

In my opinion, the mother should not only get charged with assault but be forced to pay for the dental work now necessary for the woman she assaulted. Yes, assaulted. I don’t know about you, folks, but no one deserved to be punched in the face. Under no circumstances, nothing, no way, no how.

This incident overall is actually a symptom of a much bigger problem, and that is the absolute entitlement that this woman has displayed by virtue of that punch in the face, and the same entitlement that the parents who supported her action display.

If you’ve not been out in public and seen a child acting like a hellion for no reason whatsoever, relax: it’s only a matter of time. And for anyone who may want to argue autism, please don’t go there: I’ve seen and heard autistic children and believe you me, I can tell a meltdown/distress scream very quickly from an “I’m screaming because I feel like it and think it’s fun” scream. And again: I’m not a parent. And I can still tell the difference. The thing about autistic kids is that they do have parents who are very firmly aware of their kids’ patterns, and know how to arrest a meltdown.

Herein I am referring to perfectly healthy kids whose parents need a heavy-duty reality check.

Here’s the thing that these parents really don’t want to acknowledge: the world is not child-friendly, and it’s not, nor will it ever be, baby-proofed. Nor should it be. The world is not a playground, and nor should children or their parents – especially their parents – behave as though it is. As members of society, we have a basic expectation of behavior in public, and when it comes to children who are not in pain, or in danger, or autistic, absolutely no one has ever rescinded the saying, “Children should be seen and not heard”. Perhaps it’s a bit harsh, but it ensured behavior in public while we were kids.

There is absolutely no good reason for a perfectly healthy child to scream bloody murder and run around in public unless they’re in an environment where such a thing is accepted. A Nordstrom’s is not a playground. Perhaps that behavior is allowed at Chuck E. Cheese, but not every place in the world is Chuck E. Cheese, and nor will it be. If a person wants to go out and do their shopping, or go to a restaurant with a per-plate price of above $40, they really shouldn’t be subject to someone else’s child screaming and running around. It really isn’t that difficult to teach, either; our parents had taught us to be quiet in public, and if and when we acted up, we got the consequences.

It’s the sole and primary responsibility of the parent to make sure their child behaves in public. No one else. But in today’s day and age, it seems that the parents are much more keen to foist their kids off on the television as a disciplinarian, and do everything int heir power to not actually do their job. One of the things I’ve seen most is the idea of a parent being their kid’s best friend as opposed to their actual parent. Worse, they try and treat the kids as miniature adults, which is something that makes me laugh in the, “You’ve got to be kidding me” way. Kids are not adults. They do not have an adult’s grasp of logic, nor an adult’s self-control. Their mentality is “I want what I want when I want it and I want everything right now”, and they will continue only right up until someone tells them no and enforces it.

“It takes a village to raise a child!” Really? So then why is it that when the village tells you you’re doing a shitty job as a parent, your reaction is to either scream, “Don’t tell me how to raise my child!” or, like that woman in the article, punch them in the face?

Already, the village – that is to say, everyone around the parent – does a lot for the kid in question, and on a much grander scale. Education is paid for by our tax dollars, its quality aside. Parents get the child tax credit, the tuition credit for private schools, and the childcare tax credit. We all keep an eye on the kid traveling alone on public transit. We all see the “kids eat free” days at restaurants. We all look the other way when the parent comes into work late and leaves early, and take up the slack when the kids get sick and parents miss work altogether. Mind you, the rewards for doing that are very few in number.

If it takes a village to raise a child, then the least the parents of said child can contribute back to the village is their kid’s best behavior in public, but if this article and that incident is any indication, then it seems that even that is too much to ask. And you know something? ENOUGH. If we are investing in the future, as people are very keen to say, then I think it’s high time we actually set some expectations for the return on our investment.

I am sick and tired of having to cater to the child-centric attitude, and seeing only an increase in misbehaving brats as a result. And I am doubly sick and tired of the parents’ entitlement in allowing their kids to act that way and copping an attitude with anyone who disagrees. As though we are the ones with the problem if we don’t think it’s adorable when their kid is laying waste to a restaurant or a store.

Every time I go to my neighborhood laundromat, I bear witness to at least five kids, all under school age, running around and playing tag. The floor is nearly always damp, especially between the rows of washing machines. These kids could get very seriously injured if they slip and fall, or someone else could if they trip over those kids. And I promise you, there’s at least one trip guaranteed to happen. Where are the parents? Why have they not taught their kids before leaving the house that the laundromat isn’t a playground? Oh yeah, they’re folding and smiling indulgently at their kids every scream, with an “Isn’t he/she cute?” expression. And yet, those are the same parents who will turn around at the speed of light and sue the laundromat if their kid gets injured – and, as a bonus, claim that it was the laundromat’s job to watch their kids.

I’d love to say something to the parents, but I never do. Why? See article link above. Because I don’t put it past these people to react in just this way. If they can’t be bothered to rein in their own kids, I am pretty sure that they won’t take kindly to someone telling them that they actually need to do so. I’ve come pretty damn close to being injured by a kid more than once, and frankly, a half-arsed “I’m sorry” doesn’t cut it for me anymore.  As a result, my laundry time is getting earlier and earlier, because I figured out that if the kids stay home and watch cartoons, I will have fewer encounters with them. Not too surprisingly, there’s quite a crowd at the laundry at 9am on a Saturday. But the bigger problem here is why should I, or anyone else, have to adjust their lives and schedules just because some parents have never told their kids that laundromats aren’t playgrounds?

Parents need to seriously check themselves and their entitlement before they go off the handle on someone who remarks on their kids’ behavior. Just because they have children does not mean they have an uncontested right to let their children act whichever way they please in public. There’s 7 billion people in the world, and increasing; reproduction is not a miracle and should not be treated as the sacred cow that magically makes people immune from every social rule in the world. If they want to claim the village, then they should also put up with the village telling them when they’re not doing a good job. You don’t get the benefits with zero blowback, that’s not the way it works.

And don’t tell me how it’s no one’s business. Bullshit. When you’re in public, your expectation of privacy is zero. That’s not just me saying that, it’s been proven in a court of law on multiple cases. Expectation of privacy is exactly how surveillance cameras get mounted in public transit systems. When you’re in public, you are fair game, and the child’s behavior as well as the parent’s reaction speaks a lot to the parent’s capacity as such – and is, once again, fair game.

If they don’t want people telling them that their child is a hellion, then it’s their job as a parent, and their job alone, to make sure that the kid behaves in public.

When parents don’t parent, we all see the results later down the line. People need to know that kids don’t stay kids, and when they learn  in early childhood that they can act any way they want and their parents won’t say anything, that carries through to a disregard to consequences later down the line. What they learn early on is what stays with them for life. So when their kid screams bloody murder and runs amok in restaurants, it’s pretty likely that the same kid will continue acting out in much more escalated ways – why? Because they learned very early that that’s how they get attention, and they also learned that they’d get attention without being told no. So they’ll continue it, and it’ll be exponentially more difficult to undo that mentality later down the line.

At what point do we, as people, collectively say “Enough is enough”? There is a point where we clearly need to step up and set a standard for behavior, and I think this incident is a perfect illustration. Parental entitlement has gone entirely too far when someone thinks it’s perfectly justifiable to punch someone in the face for daring to point out that their child is not, as they believe, a perfect innocent special snowflake who can do no wrong, and, worse, other parents are joining into a chorus to defend that punch.

Bottom line: no person deserves a punch in the face, and especially not for wanting something as minor as expecting a child to behave in public.

K.G.

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