Walmart Kids (or, Why I Fear for the Future)

Just so you know, I hate everything about going to Walmart.  I hate the long drive there (absolutely nothing is close to me). I hate the sprawling chaotic parking lot. I hate the crowd of zombie consumers who, for whatever reason, always seem to do their shopping in their pajamas or underpants. I hate the store as a concept. I hate it all. I’d banish it from my mind forever if it wasn’t for one thing: candles. They have this amazing collection of the most delicious smelling candles that cost just pennies. It’s for these candles and these candles alone that I occasionally brave a visit to the 9th circle of  hell that is Walmart.

During a recent visit I had the pleasure of encountering two families which really tested what was already a very fragile patience.  The first was a Mom and her daughter trying to decide where to sit in the Ledos, a pizza restaurant.  If I have to go to Walmart, damn it, I’m eating at Ledos!  So anyway, this mother was letting the girl (maybe 9 years old) pick the table. She wanted to sit close to the TV so she could watch a baseball game. The mom squashed that and said, “Do you want a booth or table?” The girl replied, “The table so I can see the TV. Duh.” She threw her hands out in this dramatic pose, shrugged her shoulders, and made a face that could easily be translated as “You’re an unbelievable idiot, Mom.” If that were my kid, first, she would know that kind of behavior doesn’t fly with me. But should she forget and mime the word “moron” at me as she turned her back to walk way (as this girl did to her mother), she’d probably have gotten a swat to the back of the head before she got out of arm’s reach. And it’s darn sure we would’ve sat at the one table that did not have a view of the TV, just so she knows who really runs things around here. Or out of spite. Take your pick. Either works for me.

Then, in line at the Walmart (so close to being out !), I’m standing behind this Mom and her two kids, a boy and a girl.  The boy was 14. No, I’m not a stalker. I know his age because his little sister kept saying it.  She was probably 11 or 12. All three of them—mom, son, and daughter—were truly epitomizing the worst stereotypes that define a “redneck.”   They were quite the trio. The daughter was a whiner with a voice that seriously hurt my head, and she kept complaining that the boy was getting things that she wasn’t.  She and the boy kept wrestling (yes, full out wrestling)  in line while the mom prepared to buy a gun (an airsoft gun) to reward her son for his supposedly stellar report card. His sister wanted him to do something when they got home but the boy said, “No way, I’m gonna be busy with the gun.”

At this point the mother stepped in and said “No, you’re not.  You don’t get it until the report card arrives and I can see your grades.”  And the boy, with as much disrespect as is humanly possible snorts back, “Well, it doesn’t come to YOUR house.”  The mother retaliated with, “Well, you’re not touching it until I see the report card.”  And the boy, really snarling now, spits out, “I’ll just take it to my house then and you won’t have a choice.”

THEN the girl said to the (apparently noncustodial mom), “Look at you (cue sarcasm) buying a gun for a 14 year old.”  See?  Told you I wasn’t a stalker.  The mother said, “I haven’t bought it yet and he’s not going to get it until I see the report card and I can always bring it back.”  She was trying to be stern and provide discipline (I think) but it wasn’t really working. As the mother laid the gun on the counter the daughter said, “Well, NOW you’re buying it…for a 14 year old as a treat he doesn’t deserve.”

I wish I could adequately explain the voices these kids had. It was an incredible thing to witness, truly. Just full of condemnation, disrespect, and belligerence. It was oozing out of their mouths with no inhibition, no fear of consequence for their insubordination. It was simply phenomenal.  Needless to say, the boy walked out of there with the gun in hand.

Now I’ve never really been a “spanker,” and of course I would never condone striking someone else’s kids, but I can kind of understand why people might go nuts and lose their mind for a moment to reach out and give a much deserved smack to kids who don’t belong to them.  It’s like “juvenile road rage,” that brief nanosecond of insanity when you see a parent totally getting owned by their little tween offspring. That day in line, my hand fairly itched from inaction and my tongue was sore and bleeding from my attempts at keeping my own mouth in check.

Seeing such a display makes me fear for the future because these are the kids who are going to be non-productive adults when they get older and putting a kink into our whole societal system. Or worse yet, they’ll be in charge.


bad parentng toy story

14 thoughts on “Walmart Kids (or, Why I Fear for the Future)

  1. You don’t have to go to wall-mart to see that kind of behavior. It’s everywhere. I saw a 5 year old at Target scream “F you,” over and over and over, at his mother as he dropped to the floor screaming at the top of his lungs. The father walked away and she said, ‘where are you going?” He never looked back and the kid never stopped screaming that at his mother. EVERY SINGLE person around them, stood absolutely still and just stared. It was so disgusting and horrible, no one could move. THE MOTHER NEVER SAID A WORD TO THE KID OR EVEN MOVED (he was trying to kick her). The spell broke and we all started looking at each other, shaking our heads and then walked away. I also saw a kid, about the same age, laying on the mat that opens and closes the electric door. People, some of the elderly, almost fell over him, while others walked over or around him and his mother said, “be careful, you might get hurt.” No concern for the people who were trying to get in the shop. None at all. Now days, when I see well behaved kids I walk up to them and their parent and congratulate them on their behavior. I congratulate the mom (usually) and tell her what a great job she’s doing. The kids always smile and say, “thank you,” so does the mom. I only wish I got to do that more often. Usually kids are jumping up and down on the seats in restaurants or running up and down the aisles screaming and bumping into waiters and customers. It’s horrible out there.

    • Oh, I know all too well those kids are everywhere! You are so right! I had another incident at a local grocery store close to Christmas that I wrote about in A Cheerful Christmas Story (or How Santa is being used and abused). In that situation, an elderly woman had to walk around a tantrum throwing child who blocked the walkway. It was ridiculous. I agree, I wish there were more kids that we could congratulate on their behavior instead of us standing there shaking our heads at what passes for parenting these days. I feel very sorry for that woman you saw in Target. I mean, I know she was part of the parenting duo, but sounds like she’s more of a single parent given the father’s reaction. That Mom may have bigger issues at home than the kid…or at least maybe he’s a symptom of bigger things rather than the problem.

  2. I literally thought of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” during the entire post.

    Honestly, I blame technology. Instead of allowing our children to rot their minds (and manners) on their phones and the internet, children should be playing outside or playing a game as a family.

    It’s quite sad what the next generation has come to. This is where you have to look at the “nature vs. nurture” argument. Is it the parents who aren’t teaching discipline, or is it the things these kids are exposed to (i.e. internet, video games, TV shows, etc.) that are making them turn into (for lack of a better word) brats.

    Thanks for sharing this, even though it does scare me for our future world.

    • It was exactly like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo!! You’re so right! I agree that technology probably has done more harm than good where growing kids are concerned but the parents should have control over what technology the kids have or what they watch and/or play….so it all comes back to the parents. I think sometimes parents find it easier to ignore or let remarks (backtalk) just slide and after awhile there’s no going back, and then you end up with kids like these were. I would say that it’s because the parents are overworked and overwhelmed (working two or more jobs) but I’ve been there and I don’t have kids like that and neither do my friends (well…some of them anyway, LOL). But then there are some wealthier parents with even worse kids. Whatever the reasons behind it, I weep for the future.

  3. I’m an old-school parent (my son is 8), but I know I’m in the minority. None of that crap flies with me and I’ll be damned if I ever put up with it. My son knows it, too. Last week, he grabbed a kid at school and punched him in the stomach for no reason whatsoever. I made him go apologize to the kid after school in front of his mother. He mumbled it, so I made him do it again. The kid’s mom said “it’s OK,” and I replied “no, it’s not.” THAT is part of the problem because it really isn’t OK. So when we got home, I made my son write “I will not act like a bully again” 100 times and took all of his privileges away all weekend (it happened on a Friday). I allowed him to read books for the rest of the weekend. Some may think me harsh, but I don’t worry about what others think or say. I am his parent first — not his buddy, and certainly not someone he’s going to talk to like a piece of garbage I see other kids do. It did the trick. He didn’t like doing all that writing, but he read those words over and over and they drove the point home, which was my intention. We talked about why it was wrong for him to hit, which I think is just as important, and he hasn’t touched that kid or anyone else since.

    Anyway, sorry for the long response. But it’s a HOT topic with me … lol.

    • No worries on the long reply — glad you read and commented! People always say I was hard on my kids, but I’m very, very proud of who they have turned out to be. And they’re quite happy and well adjusted. So I guess I didn’t screw up too badly.

      • LOL … thanks! I’m always happy to read and reply anytime I can. 🙂 I’m sure you’ve done a wonderful job with your kids. 🙂 My motto is “tough but fair.” I see so much wrong in the world today and I just want my son to grow up and be respectful and care about others. There’s so little of that these days. And when I’m wrong, I’m the first to admit it. I tell my son that, as well, and we always talk things through.

        • I love “chatting,” so please reply anytime about anything! I’ve always been able to talk to and reason with my kids. We’re very open with communication, good or bad. I am their biggest fan and will support them in any way, but I will also take them to task when they’re doing something wrong. I’ve been told I’m a bad parent because I encourage free thinking but I also discouraged (punished) disrespect, bad behavior, etc. I’m far from perfect…never claimed to be, I’ve made plenty of mistakes. But all we can do is the best we can to make sure they grow up just like you said…respectful, caring and productive people. I probably write about them here in this blog way more than they’d like…but oh well. They’ve given me enough grief over the years, I figure now is the time for payback. LOL

        • LOL! Amen to that! You don’t sound like a bad parent at all. Those same people who criticize you probably “think” they can do a better job than anyone else and probably have the kids who have no respect for anyone or anything. I heard a kid getting nasty with his mom after school today when I was walking by with my son. He told her he wasn’t going to sit by his sister and he wasn’t going to wear his seat belt. Kiefer (my son) told me, “Mommy, he’s being bad.” I must be doing something right (but I also make a LOT of mistakes). I view parenting as a constant learning process, but I always maintain the tough by fair motto. It does pay off in the end. Nice chatting with you, BTW! 🙂

  4. Sing it sister! Sorry, but I just had to say it. 🙂

    I agree that technology does play a substantial role in the kind of behaviour you describe. I also think the shift in what is considered socially acceptable behaviour by children and adults, started a long time before we became so technologically connected.

    No, I certainly don’t think hitting kids is the answer. Nor, looking back, do I think some of what my parents used as discipline was all that great – by today’s standards some of it could easily be called, and prosecuted, as abuse. (It wasn’t.) But so much of what needed to be changed from past generations, has, in my opinion, gone too far.

    There was a time, not too long ago, when – in “polite society” you didn’t leave the house unless (as an adult I mean) unless you were completely “put together.” Women were expected to be subservient in all situations. Children were little more than property. Real abuse was almost always swept under the rug and victims were usually held to blame and/or hidden away. Voicing an opinion outside your gender and social class could have real, serious and long-term repercussions. Racism ruled the day.

    The list is endless and we still have a long way to go in every respect. But, but, but…while I have no burning desire to return to the “good old days,” – such as they really were *not* – I do think the societal push-back has gone too far in many ways. Yes, as human society evolves, we need to change the way we think, act and react.

    We needed to relax our standards of what is socially acceptable in terms of how we physically appear, say or do, in public and behind closed doors. But there are times when I have to wonder when it became okay for people to appear in public half dressed. When it became dicey to reprimand your own children for fear you might end up at the wrong end of Social Services because your child told a wildly exaggerated tale of “abuse” at school, because they were mad about getting grounded that morning and don’t understand the harm such tales can cause. Or having someone with a smartphone catch only the tail end of the kid’s public meltdown, jump to all the wrong conclusions, video tape the little they saw and report you or upload it to the internet. Or voice your opinion – however justifed or not – only to be called a racist, or a bigot, or some other nasty label.

    We have gone from being silent or too quiet about so many things that were wrong, to often being entirely too PC, while at the same time being overly judgemental and quick to find fault.

    Okay, that turned into a bit of a non-sensical rant! Sorry ’bout that.

      • Phew. I got rolling there for a bit, then read what I’d written and got a bit worried. Decided to post it anyway though, so am glad I didn’t come across as a raving loon. 😉

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