Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Child Haters And The Public

   While at work the other day, there was a little girl. She was a rather loud and exuberant little girl, but she was a very happy little girl as well. She very cheerfully, and somewhat forcefully, shouted "HI!!!" to every single person who passed her by. As her parents were in one of the checkout lines close to the door, she had access to every single person leaving the store, and she used that access to gleefully (and loudly) greet them all from the confines of the shopping cart, grinning and waving like a princess on parade.
   Most customers cheerfully, if with less volume, greeted her back. But because I tend to attract the crazies, I got the customer who was just pissed beyond belief by the racket. "That stupid kid," the lady complained to me, "Can't you shut her up." Because cashiers are in the business of 'shutting people up'. That's gonna go over well; I think I'll skip the legal charges that shutting a kid up, one who isn't even mine, one who isn't even misbehaving - I think I will pass those charges up. I mean, I can just see the headlines now: Cashier facing time for shutting up a little girl greeting people. I don't think so. Not this cashier.
   Unfortunately, this woman is a regular of mine. I am not sure what bad karma I wracked up, but obviously, I am paying for something, because this woman always, ALWAYS bitches about the kids in the store. They all need to be left home, apparently. And because I am on the clock, I can't tell her to piss off. I'd loose my job, hence the suspicion of some bad karma.
    But, she isn't alone in her child hating. I hear complaints about kids in the store all the time. "Shopping isn't a family experience, people need to leave their kids home." "Can't those people find a babysitter?" "They need to get that kid out of the store." "Can't someone shut that kid up?" "My kids were never allowed to through fits." I can go on. I've heard all this and more, child hating in multitudes. And it's past time for moms everywhere to address this issue.
   For me, I can't understand why people go into a public place and get pissed because said place is filled with... the public. Places like grocery stores, they don't cater to a certain crowd. They are not 21 and up establishments. Grocery stores are places where people go to buy food; often people who go to buy food have families. From this point, people bringing their families to that those families give input and help in the chore of planning the menu is not that big of a leap. Shocking, how that works.
   Furthermore, many moms do not have babysitters at their beck-and-call. They may not have much of a choice about bringing their kids to the store. Quality sitters are hard to find, and are often expensive, so even if they have one, they may not be able to justify the expense of hiring them to go shopping. Or they may feel that due to the fact that they have to work, their kid spends enough time with a sitter, and they want that kid with them for a while, even if they have to go shopping. Leaving kids at home is not always possible, so really, when people assume that moms with kids in tow had this option, and just dragged their kids to the store anyway,  that assumption kinda pisses me off. I never had that option. As a working mom, my daughter was in daycare a lot, but I couldn't leave her there to go to the store. The daycare had a limit of how many hours that a kid could be left there, and between my job and going to college, my daughter was there too often for me to leave her there to go shopping. Both my mom and my sister have full time jobs, so my daughter came with me, even when she was a small child, still learning how to behave in public. So no, parents leaving their kids with someone is not always an option.
   As for kids throwing fits; well that is never pleasant. Least of all for the parent dealing with all the judgey-judgersons. But a parent cannot always drop whatever they are doing and go home, just because the kiddo is having a bad day. Not always feasible. And we have no idea why that kid is having such a bad day. Maybe the kid is a spoiled rotten brat, but more likely, maybe the kid is tired, or feeling poorly, or just had a rotten day. As bad as kids throwing fits can be, I have seen adults behave in a much worse manner, so don't think kids have the corner on bad public behavior. And the kids, they are still learning about things like manners and inside voices; adults don't have that excuse.
    I would also like to point out that every single one of you, whether you have had children or are childless, you have all started out as children yourselves. Every. Single. One. Of. You. And at some point in your childhood, I am positive that you have made an ass of yourself in public. Maybe your mom is keeping your assholeyness quiet, but for the good of all the people who have to deal with you, I am begging her to stop right now, call you up, and tell you - in detail - about the time that you were an ass in public.
    I sure know I was. I can't even think of a specific time; I can remember so many that they are all blending together. A long blur of childhood assery that I inflicted on my parents, and in my household, discipline was not an issue. We got disciplined. So trust me, I don't need my parents to call me, I remember. What I can tell you is about my daughter.
    My daughter is a good girl. My mom gleefully awaited her, joked about getting back twice what  I had done to her, and then was dumbfounded when my daughter emerged as a 'good' kid. I get messages from teachers about how well behaved she is, I get told by family, I get told by her friends' families, so when  I say my daughter is a good kid, I am not just speaking from my own, admittedly biased, point of view. But even the best kids need to be taught how to behave in public, and even the best kids can have meltdowns and misbehave.
    My daughter had a major one when she was about four. She never went through the terrible twos, but she was hit with the fearsome fours with a vengeance. And one time, she had a meltdown right in the middle of Fred Meyers. I can't remember why, exactly, but I think her meltdown had something to do with the fact that she didn't want to walk, but she didn't want to get into the cart either. So she did what made the most sense of all, she threw herself right down on the floor of the store and started screaming her head off. And when I went to pick her up, she screamed as loud as she could, "Stop! You're breaking my arm!" Despite the fact that I wasn't even touching her arm, I got the evil-eye from about fifty different people, and had to deal with people tsking me and shaking their heads in disapproval. Being me, I took the high road (sarcasm here, folks) and snarled at them all, "Call CPS if you want to, but she is getting off of this floor."
   She never did that again, but  she is a perfect example of how a good kid can have a bad moment in public. It can happen to every parent. And parents can't just forgo buying food just because their kid isn't having the best day. So yes, when you go into a public place, such as a grocery store, you are going to deal with the public. The public includes small children. If you aren't in the mood to deal with and be tolerant of the public in general, than I suggest that at this time, you are the person who needs to spend the day at home. Come when you are in a better mood. And wear headphones. So many people wear headphones while shopping, and personally, I think that this is a really great option for people who don't want to hear the masses. But don't expect us cashiers to actually do something to 'shut kids up'. Not gonna happen. I mean honestly, if you are the type of person who would request this, chances are that we like the screaming, squalling kid more than you anyway. Just gonna put that out there. 

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