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Thursday, September 15, 2011

We suck sometimes

I'm just gonna come right out and say it.

I love children; I hate parents.

I know, I know, if you're one of my long-time friends, you're re-reading that sentence to be sure you read it right. You did; it says I love kids, and I hate their parents.

This isn't always true, of course; mostly just at work. But still... Working directly in front of the toy department will do that to you. My co-workers say things like, "ugh, I hate all the little kids. They're always screaming; gives me a headache."

Well, I'll tell you what. The kids are really cute, until their parents walk up and start treating them like garbage. Suddenly they're screaming and giving everyone a headache.

I just need to say it, because I don't get to say it to the manipulative, short-tempered parents at work. All I get to do is stand there and occasionally wave at the cute little kids (and, of course, vow to blog about my anger later).

I mentioned a bit of my frustration in Dear Customers, but let's get real, it's an ongoing situation.

Scenario 1: 

Child: Runs to toy section, filled with joy and youthful abandon.
Parent response: Anger.
"I told you we weren't going to look at toys!"
"Don't you touch anything!"
"Get over here right now! 1-2-3!" SPANK.  (Time between "get over here" and spank: 3 seconds.)
Child: Joy erased, fear and heartbreak turn into wailing and resistance.
Toddler refuses to move from toys, even after SPANK. 

Hmm... I wonder why child isn't anxious to go with spank-happy parent? 

Result: More parent anger, more threats of violence.


Scenario 2: 


Child: Calmly walks to toy department, a small smile growing on his/her face, filled with anticipation and excitement.
Parent response: Jumping to conclusions.
"Don't you ask for anything! I'm not buying anything!" 
Child: Confusion.
"I just wanted to show you this, look how cool! It's SpiderMan!"
Parent (not even glancing at object): "I'm not buying you anything. Let's go, we're in a hurry."
Child: Ignored and rejected, silently slinks away, disappointed.

Hmm... I wonder why our children are afraid of speaking up? 

Result: Parent gets grumpy child to shop with, can't figure out why. An hour later I watch parent drag child out of store with threats of violence.

Scenario 3: 


Child: Sent to toy department to be babysat by all the fun toys while parent shops for three hours.
Child makes gigantic mess, pushes every single button on every single toy, causing the stupid cheerleader doll to chant "We're number one! Can't be number two! We're gonna beat the whoop-ie out of you!"  for the billionth time.
Child then picks favorite toy, searches store with said toy for parent.
"Mom! Look at this!" 
Parent response:
"Put that back. We're not buying anything! I already told you not to ask for anything. Look at this mess! Did you do this?? Pick it all up RIGHT NOW; we have to go. Hurry up, we have to go!"
Child: Confusion. I thought I was supposed to play with toys? Picks up toys, disappointed.

VERY, VERY VERY few of these children actually want to buy anything! Almost every single kid is just excited to show his parent something he's DISCOVERED and is met with a brick wall before he even finishes his sentence. The disappointment I watch them experience is heartbreaking, because these parents don't even see it. They didn't even give a moment's thought to what their child was actually asking for: to be noticed, to share their excitement. 

Then there's Scenario 4. Scenario 4 is a little different, and S4 is what this post is really about.

Scenario 4: 
Child:
"I want a dolly!"
Parent: (immediate response)
"Ok, you can get a dolly." 
Puts doll in cart.
Child: Stops to look at something else on the way out.
Parent:
"Come here right now; we're leaving. I said come here. 1-2-3!" (time between "come here" and "1-2-3-punishment": 3 seconds)  
"Do you want me to put Dolly back?"
Child:
"No! My dolly!" 
"You aren't listening; now you can't have her." 
Child: Screaming and wailing throughout the entire store.
"You're going straight to bed when we get home."

When I say Scenario 1, S2, S3, S4, that's because there really are only four scenarios, repeated over and over and over. I work 30 hours/week in the exact same spot, watching parents of all kinds react in the exact same way.

Now, let's be clear: I KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE TO SHOP WITH CHILDREN, even difficult ones. It's really, really, really stressful!  I'm aware I'm judging all of this based on a few minutes around these people. Don't get me wrong here; I'm not actually judging them, just learning from them. Because we are all this parent sometimes. 

There are always days when you shut your kids down because you just can't handle it.
There are always days we pretend to listen but really don't. And they notice.
And they care. But it's the best we can do.

There are bills to pay, mouths to feed, bosses to answer to, husbands to please.

I am simply suggesting that we remember our children are BRAND NEW PEOPLE, experiencing these things for the first and second and one hundredth time. It isn't actually their fault that you've seen it all before. It isn't their fault that you have to shop for three hours in an incredibly boring clothing store (to them) with them in tow. They are just trying to find the one thing in that big, boring place that speaks to them... and share it with you.

Working outside the home has taught me a lot of things, but this is the most valuable lesson I have learned so far. Our toys are just like every other store's toys, and kids are stressful to shop with. This I know. But the wonder in their eyes is something not to be wasted, and you most certainly don't want to be the one who takes it away.

Want to read something written on the same subject but stated even better? Go here; I love her, and this post is so easy to relate to. Made me cry.  I'm Sorry, by Alison @ Mama Wants This

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for the shout out and the link back Aubrey.

    I like your insight into the parent/ child dynamic in public. Many times my husband and I have said to each other when we see misbehaving children in public - it's not the child/ children, it's the parents. We try to be very mindful when we take our son out. But as you read in my post, sometimes, we forget that they're only small and just developing their understanding, and don't get our adult needs.

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  2. What an observation, Aubrey and I do admit shopping with the little ones can be challenging. I usually let my boy pick one small toy and giving him options mainly because I don't get to shop with him a whole lot lately.

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  3. wow.. I can't tell you how much I NEEDED this post. Seriously. I will be a better mom today to my 5 year old. I have to admit I am that parent a lot! I get so tired and cranky after work, etc, etc that I forget to stop and listen. Thank you for helping me look at things in a new light.

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  4. Jill, I didn't even know you were still alive! jk, but for real, where have you been? Glad I could help hun, I miss your blog and comments!

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