Christmas Spirit Showdown

The release of the movie Krampus was a couple of weeks ago. Of course I went to see it because a horror Christmas comedy starring Adam Scott…DUH. It’s like the movie studio had me in mind when they were sitting around drinking copious amounts of eggnog trying to come up with fresh ideas. Great movie. If you’re into that sort of thing, you should definitely go see it.

However, it’s brought to the forefront of my mind the general gift-giving tradition of the holiday season, what it means to parents of temper tantrum throwing children everywhere, and I’m left wondering about the whole Santa vs Krampus thing once again. 

So the movie comes out. It’s all about an ancient demon that arrives around Christmas time to kidnap and eat all the nasty little kids (or in the case of the movie, people in general, not just kids) out there that made the world a worse place. “The shadow of Santa Claus” he’s called in the movie. His origins are Eastern European (because of course) and I couldn’t help but think that these downtrodden Slavic parents maybe sort of had the right idea.

I mean, think about it. It’s easy to wave off being forced into good behavior. A kid, or an adult for that matter, could play off not wanting a particular toy (hey, adults want toys too!) after he’s caught throwing rocks and knowing that his top-of-the-list item won’t be under the tree this year. “Pssssh, I didn’t want it that bad anyway. I’m glad I threw that rock.” Simple.

Or just blow off being good one day knowing they’ll just make some grand gesture a few days later to make up for it…most likely accompanied by that doe-eyed look that no-one can possibly resist. As if Santa has a selective memory and only the most recent stuff sticks. Make sure the last memorable thing was a positive one and that iPad is as good as got. Which when you look at it realistically, works. Kids have that game figured out.

The point being that from a Santa perspective, the consequences aren’t very dire so the kids, and people in general, aren’t that set on being “good,” at least not for the long game.

But with Krampus, well boy howdy, there you have some serious repercussions if you mess up. It’s not just, “You’re not going to get that Lionel train set.” It’s more, “I’m going to stuff you in a burlap sack, drag you to my hellish lair, and then eat you alive.” I don’t know about you but my rock throwing days would noticeably diminish (at least in the winter months) if I thought Krampus might be watching.

Kids and Noise: Go Together Like Peanut Butter and Jelly?

Well…another week…another entry about bad parents getting on my nerves.

Maybe it’s not so much that some parents don’t have parenting skills, but that they don’t seem to understand their responsibilities to their kids and society as a whole. They have this idea in their heads of what “kids will be kids” means, and if it’s the wrong one – and I think it is – they never know it and will ignore anyone who tries to educate them about the proper way for kids to behave during certain situations.

I was reading an article awhile back about this woman in England who had apparently spent several weeks apologizing for her kids being so noisy – everywhere they went. And she was upset because none of the adults her kids came in contact with seemed even the slightest bit tolerant of her kids.

And I’m thinking…well, just how tolerant do you expect these adults to be?

I mean, when you describe your own children with a myriad of adjectives that describe noise and chaos…it sort of makes me wonder if they even know the definition of “inside voices.”

That’s the thing – young kids need to be taught the difference between outside voices and situations where they can yell and scream all they want. There are no walls outside, so there are no echoes of those shrill little voices just searing into your brain. And then there’s the inside voices, which kids – and adults for that matter – are supposed to use when they are inside and around other people who should not have to be bombarded with a “wall of noise.”  Oh, and that’s just one description the author gave of her children entering a room. Wall. Of. Noise.

As a fellow parent I’m not looking for an apology for noisy children – I’m looking for less noisy children in spaces where noise is not really appropriate.  I have children too, so yes, I’m speaking from experience.

Maybe it’s not so much that people are intolerant of children in general (the author’s claim), but just HERS.  She even said herself:  “Others who are less charitable might say they are, well, just loud! As they battle to be heard over one another – the noise level often escalates to multi-decibel levels.”

Multi-decibel levels?  Something she is apparently used to with her own kids and may very well be able to ignore – yet she blames other people for looking askance at them and their “wall of noise?”

I don’t think this woman needs to apologize all of the time to complete strangers for her kids being noisy. Instead, I think maybe…perhaps… a novel idea, I know, but…she could actually just control her kids in the first place.

If they’re galloping through an airport singing at the top of their lungs causing EVERYONE to look at them, then there is definitely something wrong. It’s not that everyone else is intolerant.  It’s the kids.

The whole point of the article was that this woman had gotten tired of apologizing for her kids. BUT she wasn’t going to teach them manners or respect for others or “inside voices.” She was just going to let her kids be kids.  In other words, allow them to continue to run roughshod over the personal space of others, bombard the public with their wall of noise, and completely disregard the discomfort of everyone around them.

Frankly, it’s lazy parenting. And it’s not fair to the rest of us who have to put up with them.

There is a time and a place for roughhousing and loud behavior. An airport, a doctor’s office, an airplane (all scenarios in the author’s article) and many other shared public places are NOT IT.  Whatever happened to teaching inside voices, respecting others, and plain old manners?

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