8 November 2011

Thugs Of Tomorrow

I'm one of seven children (second eldest so tended to be a bit of a surrogate mum at times to younger siblings) and although we were allowed to misbehave to an extent at home (high spirits more than complete misbehaviour), woe betide any of us if we were rude, disrespectful or bratty in public and if we did forget our manners, we were made to apologise to the person we'd been rude to.
My mum didn't rule us with an iron rod but we knew how far to push the line and there was never an excuse for us to run riot in public, to swear, to scream and shout and have tantrums and any other unattractive behaviours.
It's only now I look back from an adult's perspective that I realise what a bloody good job our mum did bringing us up because if it had been left to our dad, we wouldn't have half the social graces we do have considering as a father, he was neither use nor ornament and placed the pub in a far higher regard than he ever did his wife or children.

I am proud to say I have taken after my mum. I know without a shadow of a doubt that one day I want to be a mum and there is no way on this earth my children will grow up without knowing what respect and manners and general decency are. I don't take bad behaviour from my horse or dog so there is no way I'll take it from my own child. My horse is about the only one on the yard well mannered enough to stand back and wait for me to bring her food to her rather than rush at me and grab the bucket, she may only be a horse but she knows what the word 'stand!' means. The same goes for my dog, he sits and waits for his food and even if I call him away from it, he will come to me. Both of them have been taught manners through firm but fair handling so certainly don't do it out of fear.

So imagine my despair at walking past two little girls last week, one of about four and the other of between seven and ten. The younger one walking down the road and flicking the V at any passing traffic and the older one lecturing her by saying "For fucks sake will you stop fucking doing that! I don't want the fucking scum on us again."

I have no idea why but I was shocked. I was also quite sad as these two were out in nothing more than jeans/leggings and t-shirt tops at 8pm at night, walking down a path that is near a main road and making their way to a dark and quiet park that is fairly empty after about 7pm. It was drizzly and cold and neither had anything to protect them from the cold or damp. Both of them looked like little street urchins but clearly were used to being dragged up and it looked like as long as they were out of their mother's way, she couldn't care less where they were or who they were with.

A four year old should be innocent. They shouldn't know what swearing is let alone what the V sign is. Most of all neither of them should have been walking down a main road at that time of night and turning in to a park that is very often empty of the general public after about 7pm in the Winter months.

I know people that would give their all to be blessed with a child and for whatever reason, can't have them. I've been told there is a risk I either won't be able to have children or will certainly have to be careful because at just under 5ft and a hipbone-to-hipbone span of 11 inches there is not much of me at all and my skeleton is petite and dainty so I've been told that there is no way they'd leave me to give birth naturally as in all likelihood, the baby would end up starved of oxygen and all manner of complications.

Clearly there is a woman out there who has managed to have at least two children and doesn't give enough of a toss about them to even let them out with a coat each. Their faces weren't child-like, they were hard and looked like they'd seen enough of life to tell them they needn't bother getting out of the pit they'd been born in to. As harsh as it sounds you just know in a few years time they are going to be pushing out the next generation of yobs and thugs.

When I see things like this it makes me wish that contraception was pumped in to the water system and an exam taken before you are allowed to reproduce.


JR said...

GND, that story is awful. I share your shock that anyone could do that to their kids. Sadly, I'm not surprised. I used to work in a law firm which dealt with cases that involved children taken into care by social services. Sadly the most the kids could generally hope for from their parents was to be ignored. Most of the parents appeared not to give a toss what was happening beyond being outraged that someone had the audacity to prevent them doing whatever they pleased (this isn't true of all the clients but certainly a distressingly high number).

Your story reminds me of something I saw when I was up visiting my parents a while back. A young child (about 3 or 4 at a guess) was misbehaving slightly. This prompted the mother to turn round and say, "If you don't stop that, I'll fucking burst you!" I really don't get the point of being so aggressive and violent with kids.

Oddly enough, I had exactly the same idea with the contraceptives. Great minds...


cogidubnus said...

This is an issue I feel very strongly about...

We've five kids and they've all grown up fairly feisty, but at some stage or another we've been complimented on the good manners of each of them...that's good enough for me...

We were discussing this only a short while back with our youngest set of twin girls, and one said to me "yes we didn't dare be anything but well behaved because you would've been brutal and smacked us "

I remarked "Ellie, how many times did I ever smack you?" and she thought, and replied with some surprise "oh...only once but I remembered it"...

This was borne out by the other one who described how at primary school she accidentally related our doctrine...the teacher was counting and said "one, two, three and Katie what comes after three?"...

Too which Katie replied "serious trouble"

Young children like and need the security of easy to understand lines, which they know they mustn't cross...and as long as a fairly gentle deterrent or reinforcement (very occasional and no more than that) is present, they will tend to stick gratefully within those lines...

It's more difficult when they reach their teens but if you've laid good foundations it does generally come out ok in the end...

Girl*Next*Door said...

JR, it is shocking and also sad. I find it incredibly frustrating that the pondlife of this world can reproduce with no problem at all but there seems to be so many decent, good and generally nice people who cannot concieve or carry a child to term.

The problem is with the experience you describe is that the child will grow up and follow the same example with their children in all likelihood so it is a vicious circle.

Honestly, if there was ever a chance of me getting in to government then I can't tell you the changes I'd bring in! :o). Whether it's that simple to do is another thing but there's no harm in wishing!

Cogs, I've had exactly the upbringing in regards to discipline that you describe. My mother also did the 1, 2, 3 game and it was rare that she reached 3 before we'd done as we were told because we knew that there would be a smack on the occasions we deserved it. I can count on one hand the amount of times I was actually smacked as a child but the fact I knew it wasn't just an empty threat was generally enough to keep us in line. None of us were scared, in fact my brothers when small if they knew they'd done wrong they would hide under the dining room table as at the time my mum was pregnant with twins and they knew she couldn't get under the table to them so they used to sit their trying (and failing) not to grin and giggle! My mum had the last laugh by doling out disicpline with early bed instead of a smack though :-).

My mum got complimented on our good behaviour in general at parents evenings, whenever we were out in town or grocery shopping, at amusement parks and once when she single-handedly travelled from Conrwall to Gloucestershire on the train. A couple came up to her and said "We dreaded our journey when we saw you board this carriage but we feel we both muct compliment you on your very well mannered, well turned out and happy family my dear. Well done to you." My mum has always remembered that and rightfully so :o).

I agree with children needing solid boundaries. They need the security and the stability in much the same way as animals do really (so far as I can see anyway). It's when the lines are either absent completely or blurred that the problems set in. As you say, as long as a deterrent is there and the deterrent is reasonable and only used when the child has disobeyed, and providing there are suitable warnings that unless certain behaviour stops, the deterrent will follow then I don't think any parent could go far wrong.

PS, I love your daughter's reply to the 1, 2, 3 warning! I do believe something like that may have been said when one of us were younger because with my one brother particularly, it was "I will count to 3 and if you have not done as I have asked you, and I've asked you more than once, then you know what will happen. Now, do I have to start counting?". It was astonishingly effective because he knew the threat (that makes it sound so terrible!) wasn't an empty one :o).