I imagine you are thinking that this blog post will be about my 4 boys and how wonderful they are and how much I love them etc etc…. WRONG!
Don’t misunderstand me, all of the above is true but I am feeling the need to have a rant about other peoples kids. I have heard many times, people say “I really can’t stand other peoples kids”, well I have to say I sympathise with them. Generally I feel the same. Now obviously my friends have kids and they are lovely, for the most part (ha ha ha sorry friends) but there seem to be so many parents that have no idea how to bring up their offspring.
Working in Waterstones brings me into contact with children and their parents on a daily basis and regardless of how they behave I have to be polite and helpful. But believe me some of these kids, and parents push my buttons.
So, here is a list of my pets hates in ranting format:
1. Kids that don’t say “Thank You”. As obvious as this is it still really irks me. A child will come to the till and give me their book and the money and I have a little chat with them about what they have chosen and then when the transaction is complete I hand over the bag. I expect to be thanked for this but 95% of the time the kid takes the bag and walks off. What tends to make this worse is that the parent invariably says nothing to the child. They usually thank me themselves but I don’t want thanks from them. They have send their child up to buy the book and they look on proudly as Johnny/Jenny gives the money over and takes their purchase but they haven’t taught them how to complete the process with a polite ‘Thank you’. Much to my colleagues amusement I have taken to holding on to the bag whilst the child tries to wrestle it from my grasp as I wait for the thanks I am due. Some kids, cotton on and say it but others just looks dumbly at the parents who look dumbly back at me until I give up and let them have the damn bag.
2. Kids that say “I want”. This one again falls into the category of manners. It’s not just the words ‘I want’ that bother me so much as the demanding nature in which they are expressed. “I want that Gruffalo”, “I want 2 books” and the worst, “I want more money”. Whenever I hear these words I look at the parents and hope that they will firmly but quietly tell their child that these demands will not be tolerated and that “May I have” is a much better way of expressing ones wishes. Yeah, that almost never happens. What does happen is one of two things. Either the parent gives in and the child is presented with said Gruffalo, books, money or the child is completely ignored by the parent and continues to repeat “I want….. I want….” ad infinitum. It takes all of my will not to march up to the child and give them a lesson in manners that hopefully the parent will learn from too.
3. Screaming toddlers. Now I know that toddlers can be a nightmare. I know that they have no sense of spacial awareness. I know that they have no social skills. I can accept all of these things with a sigh and a smile. What I cannot bear, though, are toddlers that just screech for apparently no reason. Kids between the ages of 18 months and 3 years tend to have the highest pitched voices and can scream louder than Janet Lee in Psycho. Why, why, why do they do this? What do they hope to achieve by bursting the ear drums of everyone within a half mile radius? I have taken to glaring at the child to try and encourage them to shut up; and I have a very scary glare. If that doesn’t work then I glare at the parents. But then I realise that these are probably the parents who will end up giving in to the child in a few years once it starts in with the “I want…..” routine.
4. Destructive brats. I don’t know about you, but I taught my children not to touch when they went into shops. Our children’s section is bright and colourful and of course invites kids from 0-17 to explore so I don’t expect the no touching rule to apply here. I do, however, expect the no mindless destruction rule to apply. We have a spinner for Mr Men books so that they can all be easily seen. I have lost count of the times that a destructive brat has spun the display so fast the books fly off. Not the worst of crimes, I grant you, but once again the parent from hell steps in to make the situation just peachy. They pull the child away leaving the books all over the floor, sometimes even treading on them as they leave. (Excuse me while I hyperventilate a little). I have even heard parents say “Don’t worry about putting them back, the lady will do it for you.” What the hell??? I did not clear up after my own kids when they were deliberately messy, I made them do it. I am certainly not going to do it for some spoilt brat who thinks it’s OK to tread on books. My colleague, Della, who runs the kids section has her work cut out for her every day. She spends most of her time putting books back where they belong and straightening bent pages. Don’t even get me started on the problems we have during half term.
5. Nose pickers. Bogies are disgusting I think we are all agreed. Kids pick their noses, we are still agreed. But please please please tell me why they feel the need to wipe them on something that is not a tissue. I’ve seen bogies being wiped on our display tables, chairs and even on a book that the kids was holding at the time. It was this particular child’s parent I told that she was wiping her nose products on our merchandise. The mother smiled and said “Yes, she does it all the time.” Unbelievable. The only saving grace was that she bought the book. Urgh!
6. Smelly teenagers. It’s not just small kids that drive me insane, teenagers that don’t wash test my patience too. Teenagers are bags of hormones and sweating is a prerequisite to growing up but it is the parents job to inform their young adult that they need to pay attention to their personal hygiene. There now, that wasn’t difficult was it? Apparently that doesn’t generally happen in these kids’ households. The other thing about teenagers is that they tend to hang around in large groups. This at least triples the smell and I am surprised that there is not a grey cloud above their heads like there was over Pig Pen in the Peanuts comics. When these youngsters wander in to the shop I want to formally introduce them to a bar of soap or a roll on deodorant at the very least but instead, when they leave, I spray the shop with polish to restore the lovely book shop smell.
I have found compiling this list quite therapeutic. I am sure you all think I’m a grumpy old cow now and yes, at times I am but is it so wrong to expect children to behave when they are in public? And when they don’t is it too much to expect the parents to deal with them effectively?
I, of course invite your comments below but please don’t pick your nose when you type them.
Until next time.