I had just finished my first post-Sandy grocery shop. The shelves were mostly bare but I managed to get most of the essentials I needed to restock the house.
I pulled my carriage into the check out lane behind a woman and her three, possibly four, year-old daughter. The woman was dressed in pajama bottoms and a stained t-shirt. Her daughter was disheveled, in filthy clothes, hair unkempt with a barrette clinging to a few strands, a large pacifier in her mouth.
The child stood quietly, waiting with her mother to pay for their few items. I was thinking about how cute this girl was, how she would break hearts some day. The little girl then turned around. Her bored expression instantly transformed into a grimace and she shrieked as if someone were disemboweling her favorite doll.
I watched carefully, wondering what in heaven’s name could be so horrible as to illicit that noise. I thought perhaps the child had injured herself and I had missed it. Then I heard her mother say Well go ahead and get one, then. Which one do you want? I was certain I had misinterpreted. It could not be that the shriek I heard was a tantrum that was then rewarded with the child’s choice of candy. Are you freaking kidding me?? Sure enough, the girl picked out a kitkat and she stopped shrieking as suddenly as she had begun.
Not two minutes later, the girl began shrieking/whining once again. I looked up and saw her pacifier had fallen out of her mouth and onto the floor. Her mother, without missing a beat, picked it up off the floor, wiped it on her shirt and popped it back in her child’s mouth. Like hitting a switch the child was quiet once again.
Yes, I’m judging here. It is quite possible what I witnessed was a child with a mental disability of some sort and her barely coping mother. I really hope that’s what it was. If not, there is absolutely no excuse for spoiling a child to that extent by that age.
I hear all the time how well mannered my son is, how considerate and sweet. Sure he’s a great kid but he is not an exceptionally polite automaton. He is just a well behaved child. I don’t take any guff from him. I never have. He was/is never allowed to be whiny for any reason.
I now understand why my son seems so exceptional. If what I saw today is how people are raising their children, simple manners must be outside the norm. I worry for future generations … and for those of us who will share the planet with them.