A Little Respect
Be Resolute in Parenting
article by Cindy G Foust
Happy New Year BayouLife readers, I hope your holiday was filled with all things that were merry and bright. It’s hard to believe we are in beginning days of a new year, and quite frankly, that we are in the year 2016. I remember where my family was, at the midnight hour of 1999, also known as Y2K. I knew quite a few families who were bunkered down with their generators, their two sheds full of water and hard hats. My family, however, was engaged in a heated game of dominoes eating Rotel dip. If the world had come crashing down around us, we would have never known because we were sitting around my parents dining room table with intense faces and strategic moves, as if we were in the battle for the gold medal at the Dominoes Olympics. Fun times.
And speaking of fun times, last month I found myself at the mall doing some Christmas shopping, along with the other 60,000 people who live in our community. Have I shared with my readers just how much I love to shop? The only fair comparison I can think of is I would rather have my eyeballs stabbed out with a fork. Is that too graphic for you? My apology first, but second, I just want my readers to understand my loathing of an activity that many people consider a sport. Blah. But, when Christmas is looming and there are no presents under the tree, I am forced to put on my game face, make my list and check it twice, and head to the place that many people believe to be “Utopia,” the mall. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love to give gifts. I just don’t like to shop for them. Well, unless I could buy everyone’s gift at Hobby Lobby, then I might be able to tolerate the whole shopping experience a little better. But, I don’t really think my son or my husband would appreciate a lamp or a nice throw pillow, so off to the mall I went. Speaking of Hobby Lobby, (because you know, my column wouldn’t be, well, my column if I didn’t chase a few rabbits) did anyone happen to visit there during the holidays when the wonderful man “ringing” the Salvation Army bells was there and singing Christmas carols? I tell you, it was very touching and nice. Anyway, where was I? Oh, I was at the mall, in a store, looking for the perfect gift.
This month’s column lands me square in the middle of a department store, shopping with my little girl (who incidentally, loves to shop) and if I am honest, subjected to the worst tantrum I have ever witnessed in my life…by a teenager. I am trying to decide what color of scarf I want, and suddenly, the piercing, hateful sound of a teenager penetrated our ears. “Mother, that is the ugliest outfit I have ever seen. Don’t make another suggestion to me, you obviously have no taste.” What? Did I hear correctly? So I casually scoot closer to this wretched child, because I am convinced I am going to have to physically pull her mother off of her. Her mother responds, very quietly of course, “Honey, I am sorry, I was just trying to help you decide what to wear to the party.” Again, the daughter comes back with a venomous retort “Well, you would do better just to sit in the car. You think you know how to dress, but you don’t. I wish you had just stayed home.”
I inched a little closer, dragging my 10-year old daughter with me, like we were the Cagney and Lacey of Pecanland Mall. The tired mother, who looks beat down and worn out, says nothing. What? What? I’m screaming in my head to let me do an intervention, but before I can say anything, the daughter says, “All my friends make fun of you. You embarrass me all the time.” At this point readers, the intervention was inevitable. I will apologize first, if this perfect stranger and her daughter were any of you, but the Ollie Caples Road girl came out of me when I looked at the tired, sad mother and made myself a big ole’ “Buttinsky” (wouldn’t be my column without a made up word). I won’t direct quote the “rest of the story” but the ending had the little teenager apologizing to her mother. Was I wrong? I don’t have any idea, but the picture of the beat down mother and the antagonistic child was more than I could bear. I will say that I was polite and respectful, but firm. For you see, I grew up in an era where respect was not an option, it was an expectation, a requirement. I have no idea if this child’s mother had always let her act like this or if it was an isolated incident, but I have my suspicions it had been going on since childhood. Again, what? I am sure their family is sitting around their dining table talking about the strange woman who nosed into their business during a shopping outing, but the mother in me came out and the Ollie Caples Road that is deeply rooted in my fabric just took over.
Don’t judge until you are the one standing in the department store holding two scarves and the next thing you know you are playing family counselor. But it made me wonder, later that night, is this the voice of the next generation? Is this how kids treat their parents these days? Well, not at my house, nor anyone I co-parent with, but was I wrong? I’m not sure, but it certainly made me have my daily parenting check. I don’t know if this was an isolated incident for this young girl, and I don’t know if it’s her normal behavior if it can be reversed, but I am positive that as a parent, we have control over our kids. We have the authority and the power to make our expectations known, and exercise our authority when they don’t comply. I’m not broaching the subject EVER in this column of spanking versus not spanking, because I, well, enjoy writing for BayouLife and want to keep doing so. But I think I can safely advocate for parents getting control early, and staying in control of their children’s behavior. I suppose I should have consulted one of my family counselor friends, got some pointers or did my usual research. But I didn’t. No, this month, I chose to use my common parenting sense and share my personal experience, as I do every month, in an effort to strike a cord with my readers and encourage my fellow parents to instill the simple act of respect into their parenting portfolio. And I bet you thought this month’s column would be about making New Year’s resolutions, or how I hoped my editor was going to get me a nice watch in honor of my three-year anniversary at BayouLife. No, rather than resolutions and watches, I chose to write about “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and now you know “what it means to me.” Happy New Year BayouLife community, I hope it’s one filled with joy, love, peace and of course, respect.