To question a famous proverb written by Hilary Clinton, if it takes a village to raise a child, does that include jacking them up? Raising children is a very hands-on endeavor, and I would like to extrapolate that phrase to mean the village should lay hands on children when necessary. You pray over them and you pop them upside whatever bony little appendage is nearest when they buck.
Last week I was at my dentist’s office very irritated at their lack of timely customer service. Granted, the wait ground my patience into powder and I had one last nerve just waiting for someone to bounce all over it. A little girl obliged me. Her five year-old body pinged from one corner to the next. She sprang off the couch pretending to be Gabby Douglas. Her landings did not stick and she rolled across the carpet.
The budding gymnast was annoying but her mother incensed me. I felt sorry for the kid; she clearly wanted her mother’s attention. The woman took advantage of the free Wi-Fi and hauled her laptop onto the coffee table, jammed ear buds into each ear, and proceeded to have a loud conversation with someone. She paused every few lines to screech orders to her daughter, “Sit down!” “Stop jumping everywhere!” “If you don’t…!” But unaccompanied by a sharp ear-pinch or firm tug on a forearm, her attempts at parenting went unheeded. I glared.
On Sunday, my family went to a Chinese buffet. The evening had matured into night and there were few other quiet patrons in the restaurant. Except this one fireball of energy wrapped in the skin of a little boy. He. Literally. Ran. Around the entire place of business. Waiters jerked their hips to the side to avoid hitting him. His mother and father slouched in their seats with their mouths pursed, eyes following the blur of brown speeding around the food stations. He zipped past me on my way back to my seat. I frowned deeply in his direction. My foot so itched to dart into the aisle. I rationalized that I was not in a position to get my tail beaten for deliberately tripping another’s child.
I do not feel personally responsible for everyone’s offspring. I am sure the parents of the world are relieved. Mothers and fathers cuss strangers out for unsolicited discipline of an unruly kid. However, ignoring the badness doesn’t make it better. I wonder if those children will become adults who never learned to sit their @#$ down and be quiet.
In a perfect world, a polite one, I could mosey over to the respective parents and ask:
“May I whoop your child, please? You seem overly exhausted to do so. I totally understand; it happens to the best of us. As an immediate member of your social village, it is incumbent upon me to at least tell your child to calm down when you cannot. Because if we don’t do it now, they will grow too big for either of us to whoop them or tell them anything at all.”
Sigh…in a perfect world, I wouldn’t need to ask that anyway.