There are days that really shake my faith in humanity.
Working at a chain portrait studio, I see many families and parents interactions with their kids. To be honest, most people are great with their kids, but those who are not really make me question what is going on in the world - and more specifically - why God even allows some people to reproduce.
Easter was a great example. Three women came in with the intention of getting a picture of all their nieces and nephews together for the first time. There were twelve kids ranging from 17 years old to one year old. One of the boys I’m guessing was around six or seven years old and appeared to have Down Syndrome. He was adorable and very sweet, but easily distracted.
Once I had all the kids arranged for a photo, this little guy noticed his cousin's pig tails with those big round bauble bands. He reached out to touch the baubles and the gathered hair, and instantly all the grownups shouted, “Stop touching her! Leave her alone!” That seemed harsh to me but I minded my own business.
We got him settled and posed again, and he went for an older girls’ earrings. She spun her head around and screamed, “Don’t touch me! Stop touching me!” and the adult women joined in chastising the boy for being naturally curious.
Everyone settled again so I could finally snap the first picture. “Okay everyone, big smiles.” At that point the three year old boy in the front scrunched up his face and became nothing but teeth! Hilarious! I was about to approach him and show him how to turn down his smile but his mom got to him first. She stuck her finger in his face, gritted her teeth and yelled, “DON’T you make your face like that. YOU TRY TO LOOK NORMAL! Or I'm gonna.... ”
Holy cow lady! The kid is three. That’s not going to make him smile.
Sure enough, big fat tears roll down his now, bright red face. His face is really scrunched up now. Thanks for making my job easier. That’s not my real concern. I’m more concerned about how these kids are treated at home.
But now that I have a bawling kid, I turn to the magic trick I discovered for three year olds with over-anxious parents. I grab a tissue, get down on the kid’s level and hand it to him. “That’s okay buddy. I’ll wait for you to dry your face. You let me know when you’re ready okay?”
I’ve found that this allows the kid to regain some of his/her personal power. They dry up much faster and screw up their courage to find their inner big kid. While I wait, I contemplate strangling their parents. Argh!
Next I sat down at the computer to work on the photos while the family waited. The little boy with Downs came over to watch and ask questions. I pointed to him in the pictures and said things like, “There’s a picture of you. Don’t you look handsome?”
His mom came over and said, very curtly, “Leave the lady alone!!”
I didn’t even look at her. If I made eye contact I might rip her head off. I said, “Oh he’s fine right here. We’re having a good time.”
Now I can understand that a kid with a disability can be frustrating. I sympathize with anyone faced with the challenge. But this kid wasn’t being difficult. He wasn’t even being challenging. He was acting like a four-year-old in a seven-year-old body.
What I can’t understand is the boy’s own family treating him so badly. I don’t condone it but I understand someone who has never encountered a kid with a disability treating them less than humanely – but the kid’s own family? I can’t wrap my head around it.
Forget the disabilities. There are plenty of parents out there who are just plain idiots.
Case in point - a couple who came into the portrait studio with their two-year old daughter a while back. Things went about as well as you can expect a photo session with a 24 month old kid to go.
Ever since I started taking kid’s pictures I have declared that photographing two-year-olds is ‘ambush photography’. They don’t stay still for more than a millisecond; their attention span is only twice as long as that. Just shoot and hope you get something!
As you can imagine, they didn’t get many pictures. My co-worker shot the session and the girl kept running into my camera room to see the cute baby boy.
Anyway, as the parents waited for my co-worker to edit and enhance the pictures the dad kept saying to the little girl. “You disappointed mommy.” “We wanted to buy a lot of pictures for your grandparents, but you didn’t do a good job. Now we can only buy one picture.”
WTH?!?!? You’re laying a guilt trip on a TWO-YEAR-OLD??! For what… acting like a two year old? She didn’t do anything bad. She’s two!
He didn’t just say it once. He nagged and nagged about it. To a 2-year old!!!
They had about a 20 minute wait, so dad had to wrangle her for a little while. Because, like a typical two-year old, she was exploring everything. She went over to another little boy – just curious – that’s what kids do – and dad starts in with. “Leave that boy alone. He doesn’t want you to bother him.”
At this point I spoke up. Without looking at him I said. “Wow, you’re really getting her ready for therapy in fifteen years aren’t you?” He found it funny and agreed.
Then she wandered across the hall where there was another kid. Dad went after her and in a few minutes called to his wife, “Come get her. She won’t go.” The wife called back. “Yes she will.” “No she won’t. You have to come get her.”
Seriously. First you micromanage every move she makes. Then you can’t function like an adult and have power over your child? Why do people like this even get to reproduce?
Later that night I stopped into a video store after 10:00pm. There was a little girl following her mom around as she looked for movies. Check that. The kid was bossing her mom around. At all of 2.5 feet tall she couldn’t be more than four years old.
First of all: What is she doing up and out at 10pm? I’m not a parent so maybe this is reasonable to someone else. Please enlighten me.
Suddenly she was behind the checkout counter clacking away on a keyboard. I caught her eye and said kindly, “Should you be touching that? Do you think it might mess something up?” “No.” she said.
There was a worker behind the counter and he didn’t seemed bothered by her behavior. I figured maybe he knew her mom.
Then she went over to the next computer and started clacking. The man said, “Don’t touch that one sweetheart. It’s a special computer.”
“Yeah” she said, “special for kids.”
This is not precocious. This is a child that doesn’t know boundaries. I know that my brother and sister and I and all of our cousins would never have DREAMED about going behind the counter in a store! Not even in my uncle’s grocery store. Not in a million years!! We wouldn’t even open our aunt’s refrigerator for a soda. It’s just not done.
At the portrait studio, we have a stash of DVDs in a file drawer to entertain the kiddos. One day while a family was waiting their turn, the kids (like age five or under) walked right up to the file drawer, opened it and took out a movie.
I was astonished! Who does that?
I know kids today are being raised with a sense of entitlement… but jeepers… no boundaries.
I know. It’s easy for me to say. I don’t have children so I can’t know what it’s like. But come on. They’re little people. Plus, I was a kid once. It’s not that hard to remember what it’s like in their little shoes.
But here I sit - 37, single and childless – and these morons get to breed. I need to start praying for them every night.