We are creating a generation of monsters. And I do mean we, we as a society.
I don't mind quiet children, I don't mind noisy children, I don't mind laughing children, playing chldren, shouting children, I don't mind children crying. I don't mind cheeky kids, or kids being kids.
I don't like rude kids or kids who screech and somehow make that screech the most painful sound on the planet. I don't know about y'all, but high-pitched screaming of children goes straight through me. I get a very real response to it. The hair on the back of my neck rises, my teeth clench and I start to shuffle from one foot to another.
I do not like disrespectful kids at all.
I don't understand parent who can ignore it.
Yesterday, as I stood in line in the supermarket, the woman in front of me and her-frankly useless lump of a husband- had not one but two of these things with her. Screamer was about four and the sulker was about twelve. Neither of the kids did a damn thing they were told, but it wasn't that, it was the look of sheer angry contempt the older one gave his parents as they tried to cajole and plead with him to help that astounded me.
'Darren come and help daddy pack the bags.'
'NO!' The twelve year old actually folded his arms.
The woman sighed and looked at her husband. 'Will you-'
'Darren come here please.' The husband said in such a wheedling pathetic tone even I glared at him. Along with the sulker.
The parents resumed packing. At this stage the smaller kid tried standing up in his trolley, a dangerous thing since the little shit could have cracked his skull open if he'd fallen out.
His mother sat him back down, cue howling as though he'd been shot. Sulky pulled an even angrier face, howler immediately climbed back up.
'James stop that love will you? Get down from there.'
I flinched. Sulker glared at me, I glared back, Sulker looked away quickly. That's right kid.
'James stop love, you're all right stop now, good boy, do you want a Chuppa Chup?'
'Darren just take him for a minute, will you?'
Husband- 'ahh Darren, just hold his hand for a -
And so on, you get the picture, I can barely type this without my teeth hurting.
Now I don't advocate beating children, nor slapping either, because frankly you don't really need to assualt soemone to get them to respect you. But in Ireland the behaviour of children is simply getting worse and worse and something has to change.
People are waiting longer and longer to have kids. Then when they come along they treat therm like little princesses and princes. More couples are working, they feel guilty about not seeing their children, so to assuage this guilt the kids are given everything they want. Then people wonder why these kids throw massive wobblers when they are told no.
Go on any bus and listen to the way kids talk to each other. Speak to any teacher and listen to the frustration in their voices. Walk down town on saturday and watch kids bump and jostle people out of their way. Click onto Bebo.com and read the teenagers who taunt and send messages to each other, vicious, filthy mouthed, illiterate, spoiled, pack-running lunatics.
'Get your feet off the seat.' I said last week to a lump of about fourteen, who had his mucky filthy shoes up on the bus seat opposite him. 'People sit there.'
He glared at me, I held his gaze. After a moment he very slowly dragged his feet off the seat, making sure he left as much mud as possible on it. Then he got on his mobile phone and texted furiously for the rest of the trip to Rathgar, doubtless calling me every name under the sun. When he got off at his stop, he gave me the finger. I had to resist the urge to go after him and kick his sorry arse up the road.
The woman beside me leaned over and said, 'Fair play to you love, but you need to be careful these days, A friend of mine was attacked the other day for telling a young one to pick up her rubbish.'
'A girl attacked your friend?'
'Oh yes, young one about sixteen, she gave her an awful kick, bruised her all up the side of her leg. You need to be careful these days. They're out of control.'
This bothered the shit out of me. I need to be careful? I? Telling a brat to take his feet off the seat is something dangerous these days? People are attacked for asking someone to pick up rubbish?
No, I'm drawing the line.
So help me, I will demand people take their feet off seat/ pick up their rubbish/ not smoke in not-smoking areas/ not crowd the footpath/not spray graffiti on my building until I am blue in the face. I will not be stupid about it, I'm not going to wade into a gang and start telling them what for, but neither will I ignore anti-social behaviour that I can address.
If parents won't say no, someone has to.