Sunday, 26 April 2009

When parents snap: kicking your kids to the kerb

I laughed my head off when I read this story about a mother who kicked her squabbling kids out the car and was subsequently charged with ‘endangering the welfare of a child’ and locked up for the night. The 10-year-old child was, according to the report, ‘very upset and emotional’ after her mother, clearly frustrated beyond endurance by her kids’ behaviour, left her at the roadside and ‘fled’ (yes, ‘fled’!).

My late mother – a woman known and much loved for her patient, kind and rational character – did exactly the same thing to my brother and me when we were, like the kids in the story above, 10 and 12 respectively. My brother, who was a bit of a bully, had just pulled my hair so hard it brought tears to my eyes, and I, of course, had screamed my lungs out.

My mother braked, stopped, leaned over, opened the back door and said, ‘Get out.'

We did, giggling and nudging and jostling each other – obviously, Mom was just trying to scare us.

But she wasn’t. She really had had enough. She drove off and left us there.

We’d been on our way to a shopping centre in a neighbouring suburb (probably, again as in the above story, about 5km from home) when this happened, and it took my brother and me a good hour to walk home. By the time we got there, footsore, we felt chastised enough to apologise to my Mom, who’d got home before us.

My mother would never, ever have knowingly put me or any of my siblings in danger – but she was human, and her reaction on that day showed that. I daresay she was every bit as ‘upset and emotional’ as the 10-year-old in the above report. Although I clearly recall the feeling of utter and total disbelief as my mother ‘fled’ from us, I don’t think I suffered any lasting trauma – I remember this story with fondness, not anxiety.

My father’s way of dealing with bickering kids in the back seat of the car was quite different: keeping his right hand on the wheel and never taking his eyes from the road, he’s reach behind with his left hand and flail around violently until he made contact with someone – it didn’t matter who or what body part, all that counted was that someone got slapped hard enough to stop the fighting. (No doubt, today, he’d be liable for a charge of grievous bodily harm or impairment of a minor’s dignity or some such.)

I’m so glad I’m not a kid today. At least I got to experience the heady joy and anarchic danger of running with scissors.

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BecauseIcan said...

I cried I laughed So much at this..
(I can still see your dad in my minds eye..hahahahahaha!!!)Having kids can drive even the sanest person to do uncharacteristic behaviour!

A few months I did a similiar thing.. but it was only 1km and I fretted the whole time waiting for my son to get home (he is 14).

But there comes a time when enough is enough.


ali g said...

When young my dad used to do that back handed flailing thing in the car too but my smartarse elder brother always shoved me forward so that I copped the whacks. My brother now lives in New Zealand which is not surprising.

蚵仔麵線Jeff said...