Everyone has dealt with a fussy child in the movie theater. Whether it is the fruit of your loins or the hellspawn sprung from the demon womb of someone else, you’ve had the experience of a child disturbing your cinematic bliss. Generally, you can dismiss this with a grumble and maybe a dirty look. With luck, the child will be removed or reprimanded by the parent/s and all will be well.

However, the scary trend, and I’ve discussed this at length with many friends is the sheer number of children that are using foul language towards their parents and acting in increasingly outrageous manners.

Example scenario: Mother and child in supermarket in cereal isle. Child is somewhere between two and four. Mother is probably in mid-twenties or early thirties at most.
“Mommy, I want this one.”
“No baby, put that back.”
“But I want it!”
“No! Put it back.”
Cereal box is then thrown to the ground.
“No! I hate you! Fuck you!” (No kidding… straight up FU.)
“Why are you acting this way?”
“Stop it. Mommy loves you so much, why are you acting this way?”

At this point, the child is on the ground banging his fists into the floor tiles and the mother is desperately trying to coo and coddle him. I’m ready to vomit.

Are you saying to yourself, “I never would have done this.” If I were to ask, “Why?” you might answer “Because of how I was raised.” “And how was that?” The answer to that question would probably be plentiful, but I’m sure that there is a good percentage of people that say, “Because my parent would have beaten the ever-living-shit out of me.” The correct word in this instance is “shit”, not “crap”, because “shit” properly exemplifies the within-an-inch of life, face-swelling, tear-inducing, run-for-your-God-damned-life righteous onslaught that would have ensued.

When I grew up, corporal punishment was just starting to fall by the wayside, but not in my neighborhood. I went to a local kindergarten. The headmistress (damn, that word is just evil) was Mrs. Bruce. She roamed the classrooms with a yardstick just to ensure everyone was in line. If you ever see Schindler’s List, it was something like when Amon Goethe would patrol the camps. Your head would hang low, you would stay quiet, but busy at whatever assignment was in front of you, and you would never make eye contact. Woe be the child that acted up in her presence. WHACK!!!

Here’s the worst part. Not only would you catch a smack from Mrs. Bruce, but when your parents came to pick you up, she would sit you down in her office with your mother or father and tell them what you did. Your parental unit would then usually say, “He did what?” and beat the crap out of you in front of Mrs. Bruce, just so that she would see that said parent knew how to discipline an unruly child. If you were lucky, both parents would be in the office. If not, you would be in for at least one more beating when mother or father got home.

I am not ashamed to say that I have been on the receiving ends of such beatings. Not often, but they did happen. The times I did not appreciate were when I was accused of an infraction that I don’t believe I committed, most famous “backtalking”. I thought I was asking a legitimate question. WHACK!! I was wrong.

Around the time I turned 8, the issues of child beating became a hot button issue. I think what brought it to mainstream attention was the death of Lisa Steinberg. The question of whether or not it was right to beat children was all around. Teachers started to check children for bruises at some schools. I remember saying to my mother, “Mom, if I told on you for beating me, you could be sent to jail.” I forget exactly what her response was, but it was something along the lines of “If you did that, eventually I would get out of jail, and then I’d kill you.” She was smiling, but I don’t think she was joking.

Nevertheless, gone are the days when your neighbors could beat you for acting up. Oh yeah… you’d better believe it. If I did something stupid around the neighborhood, any neighbor could beat my ass, march me home, at which point my mother would beat me senseless to show the neighbors that she could discipline her child, and then later I would get beaten again for embarrassing her. (Granted, this never happened to me personally. My mother had a back yard and a shovel.) The point is that parent don’t hit their kids, their kids are not being disciplined, so what happens when said child acts up in public? Nothing.

This does appear to be a mostly white phenomenon. Sorry, but it’s true. I remember seeing nearly the same supermarket incident with a black family, but it went a little differently.

“Mommy, I want this one.”
“No baby, put that back.”
“But I want it!”
“What did you just say?”
“Did you just raise your voice to me?”
“I just asked you a question?”
“But I…”
SMACK!! “Don’t talk back to me. Put that back before I give you something to cry about.” EXTRA SMACK FOR GOOD MEASURE!

I don’t have children, so I’m not one to give advice, but personally, reasoning with someone that does not possess the power of reason is just silly.

Additional Links:
Your Child Was Out of Line by Kathleen Deveny
Interesting take on child beatings. (I’m not sure if he’s joking or completely serious.)
Guidelines for beating
Beating Children can Lead to Sexual Deviance (I can’t believe this is serious.)