March 03, 2006

Do They Enjoy Their Kids?

My mother and I were returning home after running errands one hot summer day. I was fourteen, I believe, and Mom was in her mid-forties. We were coming towards the mom & pop grocery that was a half a block away from the house, when we saw a toddler waddle into the middle of the street. A car was rapidly coming towards the child.

Mom and I froze, neither one of us close enough to move the kid out of danger. Fortunately, the driver saw the kid and stopped, just inches away. My mother said, "Ooh, we were about to see a chilling scene!" Seconds later, the kid's mother, who had been standing on the sidewalk joking with her friends, stomped into the street and roughly snatched her child next to her. She cursed at the child and half-dragged the kid away with her. My mother shook her head. "She ain't got no business gettin' mad with that child because she wasn't watching it," she said. "Nobody told her to get pregnant in the first place." The toddler's mother had to be no more than seventeen or eighteen years old.

I have noticed a similar level of frustration among a lot of parents. Fathers who ignore the whines of their kids as they walk ahead of them on the street, mothers who always seem to yell and bark orders at their offspring. I wonder why some of them fiercely defend their choice to have children, when it appears they don't enjoy the fact that they had any.

About 15 years ago, I was out doing some shopping on a bitterly cold winter day when I heard a woman yelling at the top of her voice. She had stopped her child in the middle of the sidewalk to berate her. The woman's daughter may have been seven or eight years old. The girl looked confused as to why her mother was so angry and harsh. It sounded as if she was yelling at the child simply because the child existed and was in her way. I felt sorry for the child. I could imagine what hell she had to deal with at home.

An ex-boyfriend of mine had a son by his ex-wife, and a daughter by a woman whom he walked out on not long after their child was born. He took his son in after his ex-wife reported that the boy was getting out of hand. He reportedly acted like a doting father the first few months his daughter was born. It was all an act. Later, I discovered he had not been paying child support regularly to his ex-wife. From what I observed, the relationship between he and his son was not close. My ex also spent a lot time yelling at his son and keeping him under punishment--when he was at home to do so, that is. Making money and juggling a harem of women was more important to my ex. His ex-live-in-girlfriend had to take him to court and have his check garnished to get child support for their daughter. The last time I ran into his son, it was apparent that the boy had moved into gang affiliation. From what I have heard elsewhere, my ex doesn't have much of a relationship with his now teenaged daughter, either.

Maybe they regret having children. Unfortunately, children aren't gifts that can be returned to the store because one is not satisfied.


NikkiJ said...

It's just too easy to have children. Requires no thinking at all, which is why I would guess many don't think about it. Some parents should have licences that say they are fit to have children, judging by how I see some treat theirs, yelling at them in public, crossing the road with quite small children trailing behind them, etc. I'm sure we can all think of more examples. Yet I would put money on the fact that these would be the very same people who encourage women to have children, because it is all "worth it".

NikkiJ said...

Perhaps parents should also bear in mind that children remember how they were treated when they were powerless kids and the parents have all the "power". If they want their kids to visit them in the nursing home they should start thinking about how to ensure that they do. Not yelling and cursing at their kids for something when it's clearly the parent's fault is a good start.

ChrisR said...

My dad always argues for 'parenting licenses'. His argument is that you need a license to drive a car because you could kill people ... kids can do much worse damage. :)

I think with these parents who are always screaming and carrying on at their kids, that maybe whatever thought they put into having a kid was more about them than considering the kid. How it would affect their lifestyle, or how they would have someone to love, those sorts of things. If that makes sense?

Boxing Tomboy said...

I think that's it Chris. . .it is always "I want a child", "I want to be a parent", but there seems to be little thought towards the day in and out of dealing with the kid once they get here. When they find out it is not all hearts and roses 24/7, 365 days a year, the disappointment sets in.