I was shopping this morning in a supermarket, stocking up on a week’s worth of supplies that never lasts a week.
I usually do the manly version of shopping – get in, get what’s needed (quickly check the special offers for some mad power tools), and get out. Keep the head down and don’t engage or make eye contact.
Today the shop seemed unusually quiet, probably compared to the pre-Christmas madness. In the relative quiet, my attention was caught by a mother with a child in a buggy. The mother was of a similar vintage to myself, maybe a few years advantage to her. The child was, in my view, slightly too old to be in a buggy.
This slightly irked me (one of my bug bears).
Apart from the irksome sight of an over-sized child stuffed into a carrier designed for babies, I normally wouldn’t give a first glance, let alone a second one. But I couldn’t help but be drawn into the behaviour of the mother and her interaction with the child, a small boy.
She (the mother) was going from section to section asking the child what they should buy. This wasn’t a cute little game where the mother was pretending that the child was in charge or playfully asking, “Should we get some grapes?”
She was Asking. The. Child.
I thought I must have misunderstood or misheard, so I adjusted my trolley route to intercept and pass them a few times. I met them in the frozen section where the insanity continued. The mother was taking each type of ice cream out, a box at a time, showing it to her son and asking,
“Do you want these ones?”
And so on.
Now I’d like to think that my parenting style (if there is such a thing) is fairly traditional – parent in charge. That said, I’m open minded enough to see and understand newer parenting models where the child is more involved in decisions.
But this wasn’t just another level, this was a whole other world!
The child was determining the purchases from his throne-on-wheels. I carried on with my own shopping, questioning both my sanity and that of the mother. To cap it all off, when I got to the checkout, there were the pair of them on the other side. Mother dearest couldn’t unwrap one of the massive ice creams (presumably chosen by the prince) quickly enough for the little dictator. Nothing majorly wrong with having a treat.
Except this was 11 AM!!
I have a fairly bad sweet tooth, but even I know 11 in the morning is too early for ice creams as big as your head.
Now, maybe I misread the situation – maybe it wasn’t a child in a buggy, but a Benjamin Button type in his futuristic transportation chair. Maybe the little fella was a child genius who draws his power from ice cream and needed the hit to finish his latest theorem.
Or maybe I was right and it was a rather spoiled child being more spoiled by a mother who isn’t doing him any favours.
I could be accused at this point of being harsh, but I think it’s a parent’s job to do the parenting in a family (the clue is in the title). Of course we all want to get along with our kids and make them happy, but the parent can’t always be the child’s friend. Sometimes you have to take charge. It’s ok for a child to be upset, to have a cry and a sulk, and hopefully learn a lesson.
Maybe harsh, but the top of this page does say “The Cynical Dad” 😉