She’s Seven

28 09 2009

The little girl entered the building, bellowing out ‘Mama’ at the top of her little seven year old lungs, which in case you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing a seven year old’s lungs in action recently – it’s fairly loud.  She flew down the hall, whipped past me and into her mother’s arms.  Within minutes, she was at my elbow, spreading her McDonald’s fair across my desk, barring introductions.  In a heartbeat, the food was forgotten as she began to show off her tattoos, complete with what in the adult world would be known as a tramp stamp.  But she’s seven.  So it’s cute.  Despite the fact that it required her dropping her shorts and raising her tee-shirt to display.  I sputtered out something like ‘aww’ and tried to offer the very distracted half-smile that usually works to get people to realize you don’t have the time to chatter.  But she’s seven.  So she doesn’t get it.  She peeled off her shoes and left them topsy-turvied at my feet and then went back to her mother.  Who was on the phone.  “I’m hungry.”  Someone must have given her a bullhorn for a mouth.  So back to me she comes, will I feed her?  No, you have food here.  I pointed nicely to the greasy fries across my desk.  “They’re cold.”

I don’t consider myself a strict parent, and I don’t consider my children robotics forms of perfection that adhere to my every command.  But I do think I have control over their behaviour through my manner of raising them over the years.  And I can say with certainty that if they ever acted in that fashion in public, in private, or at my work – they wouldn’t be able to sit for days.  It’s children like this seven year old that make me comprehend men like Roger Stephens.  He was the gentleman who decided a toddler in a store needing a swat for her tantrum when her mother wouldn’t or couldn’t control her child.  I’m not an abusive mother, I can’t honestly remember the last time I ever spanked my children; but I know for a fact that the few times in their lives that I have, it didn’t mentally warp them for life.  I know that it achieved the desired result – which was simply to get them in line when instructions didn’t cut it.  And amazingly enough, it doesn’t take many times before they get it, if you reinforce the expectation regularly.  If I tell my child to not lie, and she lies and she is punished for it, and she lies again and she is punished for it, she will learn that lying is wrong.  It is known as Pavlov’s Theory.  But for some reason it’s lost on some parents.  Certainly this child’s.

“Don’t make me tell you again” followed by repeating the initial directive and another few rounds of “don’t make me tell you again” and basically you are raising the ‘or what’ mentality you will hate as a parent of a teenager.  But she’s seven.  So you don’t get it yet.

Over the course of eight agonizing hours, I learned that this mother is the seven year old’s bitch.  Not mother.  She’ll likely be one of those later in life who wants to be her child’s friend.  I personally didn’t have children due to a deficiency in friends, but that’s just me I guess.  “I want a banana.”  No.  “I said get me a banana.”  No.  “I want a banana.”  By now the whole office knows this child wants a damn banana, including the customer on the phone from Spain who’s trying to make a purchase.  Two minutes later, “I’m going to run across the street and get a banana.  I’ll be right back.”  I just shook my head and shook it even more profusely as evidently that announcement was a request for me to babysit, unbeknownst to me.  The child is at my elbow again.  “You have gum in your purse.”  Yes, I do.  “I want gum.”  Then ask your mother to get you some.  “I want yours.”  No.  After four more loud demands with a firmer no each time she walked away, distraught.  And I smiled.  Because she’s seven.  And it was victorious to see her not get her way.  Because she’s seven.



One response

28 09 2009

Amen!!! Here’s to all the parents that actually tell their children “NO” instead of bargaining with them!!!

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