I will vote for the first political party that finds a way to introduce a maturity test for parenthood. I don’t mean an age test, though god knows why you would have children when you are older, but maturity. It used to be an unwritten rule that you had to be mature to be a parent. Since listening is a rare skill perhaps it’s time to put it in writing. When we apply for jobs our CV is scrutinised for the requisite skills but children are given to anyone. A hotel wouldn’t employ a car theif for their valet parking. Colour blind painters don’t get a great deal of work either. Nobody would vote an idiot in to run the country would they. Actually scrub the last one as we don’t have a good record.
But we allow children to have children, the most responsible job there is, and pay them to do it. Seriously you wouldn’t want some of these people operating a cash register in your local store let alone bringing up the next generation. I listened to a young woman travelling today with her young son. A hot day on the train on the way to the coast is a battleground for children, with boundaries to be pushed and ground taken. Mum was simply not equipped for the battle. Like taking a tennis racquet to a gun battle she was clearly doomed. Don’t give me any trouble she admonished, surely she realises that this is like telling the weather not to rain?
The child ran amock seemingly on a mission to invade everyone’s personal space. On the occasions when the little cherub disturbed mum’s magazine reading and texting she shouted groundless threats. Well I say groundless but perhaps she really did intend to break his legs, I certainly considered it. We then hit the inevitable argument it starts with ‘if you don’t’. If he didn’t behave then he would not go to the beach. The obvious child response was ‘yes I will’. I thought that everybody over the age of 7 knew this was a circular debate, apparently not. Mum grew more and more irritated as the battle ensued and the boy found it all rather entertaining. She was actually sounded exasperated by the twentieth round of “I am”.
Mum’s answer was to pull the ‘no Christmas presents’ card, in July! Like the nuclear deterant this is worthless, you both know you won’t carry out the threat. The Americans know this, ever since they started putting mad old actors in charge the threat isn’t the same. Sure they are trying now with Mr tough pants but they will never erase the thought of Reagan with a red button, see it just makes you smile. But back to the point in hand, you cannot threaten a child with withdrawal of Christmas privileges any more than you can threaten the House of Commons with honesty. Children know that by Christmas you will have folded as sure as the tide coming in or the sun rising tomorrow. In truth part of the reason for this, in this instance, is that mum seemed to threaten it every twenty minutes or so.
To the question of “what do naughty boys get for Christmas” the pesky scamp crawled back over my lap to yell “naughty presents”. Obviously naughty presents conjured up adult toys and I wished heartedly for some bondage tape and a gag. Mum then proceeded to debate this point at great depth. I know it is wrong to judge by appearances but, given my own, I feel I have earned the opportunity. Mum was not a teacher, there was nothing academic about her, but she was debating like an Oxford don with a 6 year old. I was tempted to get up and shake her head whilst yelling “he is the child you’re the bloody adult”, indeed I probably would have if said child hadn’t just kicked me in the shin in his adventures.
I know that I am not alone, I am sure that you have all seen similar. A lot of these mothers do not understand the role that they have taken on. Children need boundaries and, here is a surprise, children don’t really care about you. Oh sure when you’re broken and crying they will be sympathetic but when you’re yelling “stop it I have a headache” they couldn’t care less. In the grand old days we developed a carefully coded means of communication. Parent would say “stop” once or at most twice then your ears would ring and you would see stars. I am not saying that the child today needed a smack, although I would have happily obliged if somebody else said it. But on a more basic level people need to understand their roles, remind their children that they are the authority and never make threats that you’re not prepared to carry out.
On another note why is it that when the trains are disrupted and I arrive two minutes late they don’t hold my connection but an hour later they hold it for twenty minutes for another train. Is it too much to ask to have one rule for all?