Sunday, December 6, 2009

Good Tidings are No More

One of the things I love most about the Christmas season is the seemingly sudden uplifting of spirits. People seem to want to treat others nicely -- keeping with the spirit of the holiday season and all. At least that has been my general experience in the past. This year has been different. There seems to be a permeating rudeness and a lot of that previously displayed good cheer has been replaced with short tempers, confrontational demeanor's, and just a general lack of common courtesy or manners. And it bothers me. It's discouraging. I like the friendly, comfortable tone that conversations often take among strangers when there is a shared joy or sense of purpose. There's something humanizing about it.

I'm the first to admit that I will defend myself when challenged, will often respond when confronted. But I don't go looking for conflict and often, even with presented with one, I'll try to find a way out (I supposed I've tempered with age). What I don't take kindly to is when my children have been wronged. The protector in me comes out and I am unapologetically defensive.

This past week has been really upsetting to me in that there have been a couple incidents I've either been directly involved in or witnessed that have floored me. Just the sheer rudeness has been stunning. I've said for a long time now that unfortunately there are not laws against being an asshole and some people seem to take great pleasure in that.

Saturday night we took our kids to a local outdoor mall to see "snow" fall. We got there early and were sitting by a fire. These two boys (my guess is 7-9 years of age) were running all over the place, playing in the fire, running into people. In our opinions, a bit out of control. The grandmother and father stood off in a corner, engrossed in conversation, not paying one iota of attention to what these boys were doing. My husband and a couple other people made comments about the lack of supervision and general poor behavior.

My daughter and I got up to walk toward where the snow would be falling and as we were walking these boys came running, full-barrelled down the sidewalk. The bigger one slammed right into our daughter, sending her flying and hitting the ground hard. He too went flying to the floor, but honestly I wasn't really concerned about him. He was two to three times our daughter's size. Our daughter was hysterical, I ran over immediately, and the grandmother and father still hadn't a clue. When she finally realized something was wrong she came over and started yelling at me about her grandson being on the floor. Her exact words were, "What happened? What did she do to him?" I'm sorry, but any moron who looked at the two kids next to each other could clearly tell who stood the greater chance of taking the other one out.

My response was, "What happened was your grandchildren were running around out of control without any supervision." Probably not the best response, but I was so angry and so stunned that I said the first thing that came to mind. This set off a verbal back and forth with my point being that it is customary when a child hurts another child that that parent or grandchild apologize and check to make sure the injured kid is okay. Real rudely and completely insincere she screams, "Well, I'm just soooooooooooo soooooooorrrrrrrryyyyyyyyy. Happy now?" It was unbelievable. She then started yelling at my husband about how I have no right to talk to her like that and he better "control" his wife.

Long story short, we walked away while she stood there on the sidewalk like a crazy woman screaming after us. The mother then came out and while we couldn't hear what was being said the grandmother was clearly filling her in. As a mother, I would think at that point that she would want to find out what happened. Nope, not a word. They had to pass where we were standing so we stood there and as the walked by the grandmother turns to the two boys and says, "Now." Both boys turn, stick out their tongues, and point over at me. What a great lesson to teach. Obviously, as an adult I did nothing. Acted like I didn't even see it.

Talking with my husband later we were both just incredulous. Our kids have been run into before and our kids have run into others. The first thing those other parents or we as parents have done is apologize and make sure the other kid is okay. Even in this case, while the kids were out of control, the actual contact was an accident. The boys obviously didn't mean to hurt our daughter. Had the grandmother come over and said, "Oh my gosh. What happened? Is she okay?" it would have been a completely different outcome.

I suppose I am just so flabbergasted at all the anger and so much of it misplaced. I understand times are trying. We have our own set of circumstances and frustrations but we do our best to not let it seep into other aspects of our lives. The thing that makes me most mad is in the span of a week our children have been exposed to some horribly ugly behavior and it was completely out of our control as parents. Even in this most recent episode while we were walking away the lady was yelling out horrible things that my daughter then repeated and asked about later. It was clearly upsetting to her.

I take my job to protect my kids very seriously, as does my husband. We limit their exposure to people, experiences, etc that we perceive to be damaging or questionable. How are we supposed to protect them when without any warning people behave like assholes? Even in trying to just walk away from these situations we can't control what others will say or do in the meantime.

I am just truly discouraged and sad that this is what our world has come to. I realize it's just probably been a bad week, but at the risk of sounding old, I miss the good ol' days where people didn't accost you in parking lots or scream at you for being concerned for your child. What happened to the days when people treated each other with kindness? I miss those days. I guess that's what I want for Christmas.


Joanne said...

You're not the only one who has seen a general deterioration in society. I've seen it, and have heard many others comment on it. I don't know what the answer is, but it's sad. I guess if we encounter this type of situation, we can only do our best to be respectful and remove ourselves from the tension. It's always upsetting though to be a part of it.

Anonymous said...

What a terrible story. I can't believe they had those kids stick their tongues out at you. Sounds like they're raising a couple of future psychopaths or serial killers.