I witnessed an interesting thing today which I thought was worth posting.
Thursdays are my “city” days in Spokane. Older Daughter has her French lessons on Thursday afternoon, so we go in early to do our grocery shopping at Cash & Carry, Costco, and Winco.
In Costco, Older Daughter disappeared to visit one of the little food tables (where they offer free samples of various goodies) and so missed the incident by a few seconds. I rounded the corner into a refrigerator aisle lined by enormous coolers on either side. A mother was in the aisle with two children, a toddler in the cart and pretty little girl by her side. The older child (I’ll call her Amanda) was about seven.
Amanda was moving the cart around with the toddler in it. “Amanda, stop that,” said the mother absently, looking at items in the cooler.
“No, you stop that,” retorted Amanda.
This got the mother’s attention. “Amanda, stop that.”
At the top of her lungs, the seven-year-old yelled, “NO, YOU STOP THAT!!”
At this the mother bent over the child and said in a furious (and probably embarrassed) voice, “That is NOT acceptable behavior!” She took Amanda by the arm and sat her down – hard – on the knee-high concrete skirting at the base of the coolers. “You’re getting a time out. You hear me?”
Entirely unfazed, the little girl began singing in a loud voice – “La la dee dah la la la…!” while scooting on her bottom down the skirting, away from her mother who continued to look in the cooler for the items she wanted. When the girl was about thirty feet away, the mother said, “Get over here this instant! You’re still in time out!”
About that time, Older Daughter caught up with me, I selected the items I wanted, and we left the aisle. I pointed out the child as we left – still scooting on her bottom down the concrete skirting – and thanked my lucky stars my girls had never behaved in that manner. My first thought was, “That child is in for a world of trouble as she gets older.”
And then I got to wondering. Why DID the child backtalk her mother like that? One thing’s for certain, that kind of dramatic disrespect does not come without precedent. If there’s one thing Don and I have always instilled in our girls, it’s respect for us, their parents. Respect for parents is the first step on the road toward respect for God. Without parental respect, it’s harder to stand in awe of the Deity.
But putting philosophy aside, I wondered what I would have done in this mother’s place. The middle of Costco is not where you can administer the spanking this little girl so richly deserved. In today’s intolerant climate, there is no faster way to get booked for “child abuse.” In that regard, the half-hearted “time out” was probably about the best the mother could do.
When I got home and described the incident to Don, he verbalized what my private thoughts were – namely, he would have put all the food in the cart back on the shelves, hauled the kids home, and THEN administered the spanking this little girl so richly deserved.
I don’t know if I can entirely blame the mother for the child’s behavior since I don’t know anything about her circumstances, personality, parenting style, marital status, or anything else except the one-minute interval I glimpsed. And God knows there are innately stubborn and difficult children out there who defy the discipline of even the best parents (the book The Difficult Child is quite an eye-opener in this regard).
So dear readers, what would you have done if this was your child?