If my belief is correct and our children model their behavior on ours, then the little girl who was just standing in line at the grocery store next to me is going to grow up to be a major jerk. Sure, right now she's perfectly wonderful. She's everything a child should be: curious, energetic, playful and adorable. Her mother, on the other hand, must feel that her little girl is demon spawn, because she would not stop yelling and cursing at this poor child—to the point that even the cashiers were firing out the occasional, "Whoa, lady!"
It all started with a piercing outburst at the poor girl when the mom discovered the "little brat" had actually dared to open the pack of candy wafers she had given her. Keep in mind, the child is no older than two. (For awhile, I actually thought her name was Little Brat, but I later figured out she had a more acceptable traditional name.) I was so flustered by the parent's scream that I instantly blurted out, "Then don't give them to her!" but that only served to calm her for about a minute...
Her stream of yelling and insults at the girl continued until she took a phone call, but after she hung up she immediately started yelling again—and this time, also cursing.
It was so loud and obnoxious that my son began pounding on the counter. "She's swearing, mom!" he exclaimed.
"I know buddy, she's not using her best manners," I replied. It was the best response I could come up with. My head was spinning from all her contradictions and commands. "Come here!" "Go away!" "Stay here!" "Go sit down!" "Here, take this and shut up!" "Don't open that! I haven't paid for it!" Oh for Pete's sake, lady! Even I don't understand what you want! And I'm really trying to!
Then she pulled out the big guns … those ridiculous statements that turn sweet little children into whining, blaming, tattling monsters: "Why do you make me yell at you!? I hate yelling at you! You make me hate coming to the store." Really? That 2-year-old little sweetie pie made you yell at her? You honestly have that little control over your own mouth that you can't shut it? And you have no problem making your daughter believe that it's her fault you're a lousy mom? If you hate yelling at her so much, then don't!
If I could, I'd put money on that little girl never taking accountability for any screw-up that may come in her life. Drugs? Not my fault. Jobless? Not my fault. Failing out of school? Blame someone else. Can't you just see it?
The thing that killed me most about all of this was knowing that if the mom had just stopped her rant for one minute, looked at her baby girl and said, "Sweetie, you have too much energy for me today ... Why don't you go run around the aisles with Grandpa until I'm done?" her daughter would have been blissfully exhausted, her blood pressure would have been safely under control and a whole lot of innocent shoppers (me included) would have applauded her for being a great parent. She'd be setting a great example for everyone—especially her child.
But alas, I'm afraid that moment of enlightenment will have to be witnessed by someone else, in a grocery store far, far away. My only hope is that when she grows up, Little Brat will have better self-control than her momma. Good luck, sweetie!