The One About Making Excuses For Poorly-Behaved Children.

I get some interesting people-watching done at the park, while walking Madison.

We were at the park last weekend and there was a woman, probably around 30ish, with a young son, probably around 7.  An older man was with them as well; I assumed him to be the boy’s grandfather.

They had some toys with them, and a bucket of golf balls (there’s a pitch-and-putt course at this park).

They were about 30 feet away from us, when I saw (and heard) the boy erupt into a scream at the top of his lungs, addressing his mother, who was inches away:  “GO GET MY SCOOTER!!!!!!!”

And again.  “DID YOU HEAR ME?  I SAID, GO GET MY SCOOTER!!!!!!!!!!”

I was a bit shocked that she seemed not to have a reaction to this ridiculous behavior.  She spoke with the older man throughout the boy’s screeching.

A few minutes later, the mom walked away from the boy and the grandfather, towards me and Madison.  She had her car keys out.  She walked past us and smiled.  I smiled back, and just offhandedly asked, “Are you going to get him his scooter?”

She thought a moment before she responded, and when she responded, she was not rude.  “Before you judge,” she said, “I have ADD.  Sometimes I don’t listen to my children, and I need them to remind me.”

“No judgment here,” I said, and we parted company.

For the next half hour, we walked around the park, Madison hunting squirrels and birds, and me thinking about this woman’s situation.  And the kid.

The kid whose mom makes excuses about why it’s ok for him to scream at her at the top of his lungs, and rewards him when he does.  The kid, who one day will scream at a teacher or a school staff person, or a playmate, and wonder why he ends up being punished for his behavior.  This poor kid, who is being trained by his enabling mom that if only you scream loudly enough, you will get what you want.  Sometimes.

I thought about what I wanted to say to this mom again on our way back around the park loop, to tell her I really wasn’t judging her, but I was concerned about the mixed messages this child was receiving.  We didn’t see her again as we came back around.  We did see the boy sulking through what looked like a golf lesson.

I’m not a parent, so I have no right to tell parents how to deal with their children.  But I’m a person, and I know that there’s almost no reason for a child to address someone the way he spoke – screamed – to his mother.  To any adult.  To any other human being.

And one day, this kid will be just another over-entitled, too-full-of-“self-esteem” teenager, or 20-something, whining to his therapist about what a horrible place the world is.  And what a horrible mom he had.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “The One About Making Excuses For Poorly-Behaved Children.

  1. Pingback: The One About the New Header Photo | Evelyn Jerome Alexander's Blog

  2. Karen

    I’m writing my comment here so that my ADHD daughter doesn’t see it. I realize that it’s the mom in this scenario who has ADD, it’s very possible that her child does as well. Believe me, as the parent of a child with behavioral issues, there is sometimes very little a parent can do. And in response to the FB comments, you all may just be lucky enough never to have been embarrassed in public by your kids. If I were supposed to slink away, proverbial tail between my legs, every time my daughter raised her voice in public, I would never be able to leave the house. ADHD is not an excuse in my household, but it is an explanation. Shouting at me is not tolerated, but often it is an unhappy reality. Walking in my shoes isn’t easy all the time. Even though I don’t have ADD or ADHD, and would NEVER have spoken to my parents the way my daughter sometimes speaks to me, I feel for this woman. I know what it’s like to feel judged all the time.

  3. Jen

    I have to agree with Karens response…sorry..but with a child with ADHD and a child with depression/bipolar, I have changed my attitude. I was VERY judgemental (and sorry, by analyzing the situation, we are all judging) before I had to deal with behavioral issues. I certainly don’t think what you saw was respectful in any way, but we are analyzing a 2 minute interlude…who knows what else may be going on.

  4. George

    If the child is just being a brat with no underlying medical or mental issues…well..do not spare the rod. A little discipline is needed.

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