15 June 2007

What Would You Do?

Today, I decided to hunt for a set of drawers, plus I had some clothes to take to St Vinnie's after I emptied my wardrobe (and now I have to fill up all the empty coathangers...what a pity) and while I was out, treat myself to lunch.
I didn't find the drawers, but filled up some coathangers and found a pair of casual shoes exactly the same as my daughters bought and I had admired, but...30% cheaper...heheh. Then I decided to have a bite to eat.

I put in my order (chicken and leek pie, blueberry muffin with cream and a cup of coffee), sat down and watched people...one of my favourite pastimes. I wondered about, had a quiet giggle, commiserated and mentally cheered, various passersby. Until I became aware of such a bellowing and screaming of a young child that chilled my blood. I thought this child had hurt himself rather badly and peered about trying to see what was going on. I saw an elderly lady with twin boys in a supermarked trolley...one was sitting quietly, the other was on his feet, red in the face, screaming and pointing at something. The elderly lady, who seemed to be grandma, looked as if she wished was anywhere else but where she was.

These boys would have been about three and my first impression was of a tantrum...he'd seen something he wanted and was denied it. Grandma was obviously waiting for either mum or dad...it was mum...who eventually came along and had a few words with the little boy which didn't seem to make any difference whatsoever. They wandered off, the boy's screams diminishing as they went and I put it out of my mind.

I had my lunch and wandered around some more, trying to get inspiration for my youngest daughter's birthday which is in about three weeks. I wandered into a book shop (I should never do that, because I always come out with something I had no intention of buying) and whilst browsing could hear a kid throwing a tantrum...so I thought. It was the same mother and grandmother with the same two boys and the one still screaming. This was an hour later, believe it or not. I came across them again about half-an-hour later, with the little boy still crying and screaming.

Now at this stage, I was getting concerned. After all that time, he should not have still been in such a state and I felt that something was radically wrong. I had spoken to a couple of shop assistants and mentioned that I had seen this little boy crying quite a long time earlier and they had heard him earlier, as well. I don't know what was wrong. All I know was that the little boy was obviously very distressed. Okay, he may have had some problem of which we were all ignorant, but my point is...wouldn't it have been better if he had been taken home into his own territory?

I can't help feeling that, whatever was wrong, the mother had her agenda and nothing or no-one was going to interrupt that...including her distressed child. My dilemma was...should I say something or not? Okay, he may have been throwing a tantrum but I really don't think that was the case. I did notice someone say something to the mother, and evidently got short shrift for their pains...probably with a few swear words thrown in, as they looked rather flustered.

I don't want to judge (and I probably have) but I really feel that this little boy would have been better off being taken home, calmed down and probably put down for a nap. I just felt it was more than a tantrum...especially after the length of time he was so distressed. I don't know...what do you think?


Lee said...

I don't know, Robyn...what to think! Did you ever throw a tantrum when you were that age? I doubt that I ever did. But I do know, one look from my mother or grandmother (both of whom raised me and my brother without the presence of a father) would have soon put paid to that! They, my mother and grandmother had a great method...if the "look" didn't work...it was a tight squeeze of the wrist...if that failed, the "squeeze" moved further up the arm, just below the elbow...and if that didn't do the job, the next "squeeze" was on the upper arm...and then you knew you were "in for it"...you knew what could follow that last warning...and I know I never wanted to face that, and neither did my older brother...we then behaved ourselves. Most parents today, from what I've seen have little control or discipline over their children. The time has come for them to take control over their children. There is nothing you can do or say...the responsibility is theirs, and theirs alone. If you butt in...you become the enemy! I can, however, understand your want to do so.

Remiman said...

Tough one. My experience tells me that said youngster usually gets his way if he is disruptive long enough A public outing is probably not the best time to institute a behavior modification plan. Rude on the part of mom to my way of thinking, but then that alone could explain a lot.
On the other hand there may have been something seriously wrong. The manner in which the mom responded to stranger's queries though, tends to make me think that there are definite personality problems here.
Just the paltry opinion of a side walk psychologist.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Well, Robyn, I saw many tantrums thrown during my years as a social worker—and some of them were even thrown by children rather than the social workers I supervised.

That said, I view a tantrum as part of a power struggle. Many kids (and adults) have learned that, if they create enough chaos, they generally win. Without knowing the background of the family you observed, I hesitate to comment further on that specific situation. However (which means “ignore my last sentence”) if the mother isn’t getting any help with her parenting skills, she certainly should—and soon!

Dragonheart said...

Hmmm, tough call. The child probably would have been easier to calm down at home, but on the other hand, it might have been giving in to the child's tantrum!

If anything, I blame the mother for not doing a better job of disciplining the child (if it was a tantrum) or for properly caring for her child (if he was genuinely distressed for a valid reason).

Puss-in-Boots said...

Hi Lee: Yes, as kids my brothers and I didn't dare put a foot wrong. Mum never did anything about if we were in public, but once we got home, we knew we were for it if anyone of us had misbehaved. And...she never forgot!

Rel: Yes, I feel there was definitely something wrong somewhere...as the other twin was silent and just sitting there. Really odd, the whole thing.

Nick: I agree a tantrum is definitely a power struggle and some kids are determined to have that power! But I feel this was something more, that there was something wrong with that tot, whether mentally, emotionally or physically I don't know, but it certainly wasn't quite right.

Dragonheart: I think you've hit it on the head...the buck stops with the mother. I feel her parenting skills were not all that great. I just felt really sorry for that little chap.

Jeanette said...

I think the blame rests on the mothers shoulders there frightened to disapline there own kids in public. I bet Gran was embarassed about the whole episode. I could take my kids anywere if they played up they got a quick smack there and then and that didnt happen very often. and ive got 12 grands I can take them anywere and be very proud of all of them.
But I must tell you this happened to my sister and I in our local supermarket there was a 4 year old screaming in a trolley with his nanna and we got to registar behind this screamer shortest queue as it was our turn to pay for our food I leaned over said to the check out girl arent you glad his gone through he needs a good smack to shut him up. She answered his mine and he always plays up on his nan shopping.isaid well im sorry for nan but im not sorry for what i said and walked away .

Liz said...

Oh, that's a difficult one. We've all seen children crying in shops and have thrown sympathetic 'we've been there' glances at the mum, but for a child to cry for that long - you'd try to comfort at the very least, and for your own sanity surely, you'd give up what you were doing until you'd resolved the issue.

I've just read the other comments and see that most people view it as a tantrum. But yes, you still sort it out.

"Early Bird" said...

This, my friend, is my all time biggest pet peeve while out shopping...one child was crying on and on and I overheard the Mama tell it...now stop acting like a baby...I wanted to say woman act like a Mama and take the child home!! Or deal with it, which ever comes first...so many mothers here in the states just seem totaly oblivious to the racket their child puts up, just continue on like nothing is happening, it's the rest of us that's nerves have to suffer!
Sorry, I'll get off my soap box but this particular subject has been a bain to me for a while!

Puss-in-Boots said...

Jeanette: Yes, there is that fear of disciplining your children in public...seeing that smacking's been outlawed. The do-gooders have a lot to answer for. But, kids are smart and know they can get away with tantrums. Somehow, though I feel this particular case was more than a tantrum.

Liz: That's exactly my point. The little boy was obviously distressed and it seemed to me she was ignoring him. I found his cries particularly upsetting.

Early Bird: Yes, he should have been taken home. I find it hard to believe a mother could ignore such distress in a little one. As I say, there may have been more to the story...but, he still should have been taken home. Shopping can wait, a distressed kid can't.

Oscar the Puppy Cat said...

Hi Robyn. I'm so sorry that I haven't visited in a while. I've been so awful busy with my husband being away and all of my kids goings on. I hope that you're well.

Now, as to the child. I'm not qualified to make a judgement but I'm going to anyway. It's a very tough call but I don't think I would have said anything to the Mother unless it was something like "is there anything I can help you with?" "Do you need a breather?" I would have tried to be sympathetic while at the same time pointing out in a very subtle way that her child needed attending to. I know that there are times when my kids are throwing tantrums while I'm shopping, that I just ignore them after a while. I have to agree with you though, this child should not have been acting like this for so long. I would think that something was not right with him. Something was really upsetting him. The fact that the tantrum started with Grandma and continued after Mom took over would definately make me wonder. It's so sad that the family was not more aware of considerate of the child and those around. I would have taken my children home long before because if ignoring my child didn't work after 5 ro 10 minutes, then it's time to go home.

Take care,

Puss-in-Boots said...

Kim: Good to see you and thanks for your comment. Yes, we have all been there and it's no fun. But I agree that this lad should have been taken home long beforehand. He was what I would call hysterical and it's upsetting seeing a child in that state...I felt he was unable to communicate what was troubling him.