For those who don’t know, I work with kids. I know, shocking, flashing news…you’ll get over it. Same way I am trying to for the last couple of years. Not any sort of kids, but small kids, 4-5-6-7-8-yo kids. Those kids who are at the age they are absolutely dependent on the rest of us grown ups and yet would headbut us or slap us on the face or kick or punch or cry from the top of their lungs ‘i hate yous’ so many times a day that it got me thinking it’d be a smashing hit if it was made some track. Anyway, where was I? Ahh, yes. The angelic, innocent, cuddly kids. Leaving jokes aside, I can’t hold it inside anymore and have to share my consternation.
For a long time I couldn’t understand the need for shows like SuperNanny or Extreme parental Guidance. I thought that everything is run by a script and that out there in the real world, parents will know how to say no and kids will know how to say yes. How naive was I. I entered this world of tantrums and frustration and tiptoeing and negotiation and need of routines and I couldn’t believe my eyes. When and how things changed this dramatically? Why? And no, not everything can be blamed on technology and stressful jobs. Nor on politics and education reforms.
Everyone became so obsessed with the perfect plan, perfect routine, perfect diet, perfect bed time, that they become alienated beyond repair. Expectant mothers sign up their unborn babies for nursery, in fear they won’t catch a spot. Their kid won’t have the best education. Their kid won’t live up to their life plan that has been designated long before they were born. Career mums go frenzy if their prodigy can’t write by the age of 4 but don’t move a muscle if the kid throws the plates against the walls. The cleaner will pick it up anyway, won’t she? Everything is done with a reward at the end, everything is a commercial exchange, ‘if you behave today in the park, you will get a new ipad app or oreo or ball or this or that’. It’s easier to obsess over the school activities and clubs than to actually enjoy your kid. Teach him about life values. About caring and sharing. About the joy of small things.
And God forbid you, the carer, the teacher, the nanny, the tutor, the aunt, uncle or whoever, try to discipline their kid. Try to show them what’s acceptable and what’s not out here, in the real world. Then it means you’re trying to suppress the kid’s creativity and imagination. You are trying to cut their wings. I see parents having a go at teachers for saying ‘ I will not have you shout like that’ instead of ‘ Sweetie pie, could you please use a lower voice? Whats happened?’ or ‘Go wash your hands, you will not pick your nose in this classroom’ instead of ‘ Could you please go wash your hand?’. I mean, says the mother, he is only 4, it’s normal he picks his nose. Yes lady, and he’s gonna do it when he’s 30 as well if you don’t tell him not to. These parents are overwhelmed with the responsibility of 1 kid usually, and ask advice from ‘specialists’ but will go potty when someone else will point out the flaws. The nerve of teachers! Doing their jobs! Funny thing is kids will actually react in a good way to authority. It’s their parents who won’t.
You will say I am exaggerating. I have met so many parents, from such different environments and backgrounds, all of them complain about their kids attitude and behaviour as if it would be something they were born with As if it’s not their responsibility. Last weekend I asssisted a mum having the phone hang up in her nose by her 10 yo daughter. The other week, a mum has been slapped quite hard on the face, in the middle of a restaurant. Did any go crazy over it? No, they laughed apologetically for their kid and commented about children these days. No, it’s not children these days. It’s parents these days.
Is it this country I wonder. The culture. The hysteria of correctness, of libertarian upbringing. Have no clue. What I can say is the kid inside me looks around with big, wide eyes and thinks grown ups do suck.