Has anyone heard this expression lately: “Now kids, keep the noise down, we don’t want to disturb the neighbours.”
Or this one: “Darling, don’t push in front of the man/lady like that…stand back and let them go through.”
Or: “Shayshelle honey, you’ve had your turn at the tap, let the lady/man wash the sand off their feet too.”
Or maybe: “Tarquin, don’t let Tinker Bell jump all over the nice people sitting on the bench..it’s very rude and they mightn’t like dogs.”
Or perhaps: “OK kids, stand up and let the lady/man sit down please.”
Or the classic which is now as deeply buried as the woolly mammoth in the Siberian icefield: “Look, if you don’t behave, you’ll go to bed without any dinner.”
You get the picture…expressions such as these are as common as hearing the phrase: “Gee I really enjoyed that roasted dodo breast for dinner last night.”
And sadly it’s not always the New Age Parent who is to blame…severely harassed grandparents are also losing the battle of instilling the common courtesies and everyday politeness into the children in their care.
The kids are just not used to being told to defer to their seniors, and the grannies and grandpops have to go along with it just to keep the peace and to not be seen interfering in the “upbringing” of the young.
There seems to be no importance placed on teaching the kids to have reverence and respect for the older generations outside their family or close friends groups.
Look, I know those of us who have attained a certain venerable age now have to stand aside…we have to let the next generations inherit the earth.
We have to slip away into the wings of that great theatre called Life and watch on as the new cast of hopefuls takes centre stage.
But hell, some of us are not quite ready yet to wither away into the mists of antiquity only occasionally to be heard roaring from the swamp like dinosaurs disappearing into the muddy abyss.
Some of us might feel we still need some sort of recognition, some sort of acknowledgement that over the past decades, we’ve made some sort of contribution and the new generations shouldn’t be given the impression that we’re all a waste of space.
OK, I’ve had some bad encounters recently of the sort encapsulated in the opening sentences of this article and it’s made me a bit narky. Don’t get the impression I’m a grumpy old misanthrope with a grudge against kids.
Just ask any of my wide-spread family and they’ll swear on a stack of Bibles that the old bloke is a bundle of fun who sometimes might even earn the title of “Cool Dude.”
But that’s within my own family and tight circle of colleagues and friends.
You don’t have to be a social behaviourist to know that there are alarming trends in the community these days where the kids are allowed to rule the roost.
“Get a life you old dope,” I hear you say.
But seriously these days too many parents won’t deny their children anything they ask for.
Questions such as these: “Sweetheart, what would you like to eat for lunch?”,or “If you don’t want a piece of fruit would you rather have a Magnum Classic instead?” or “What time to do want to go to bed tonight?” would have been unheard of when we were growing up.
We didn’t feel we were missing out on something, nor would we throw ourselves down on the floor kicking and screaming in a monstrous tantrum just to embarrass mum or dad in the crowded shopping centre.
Come on, admit it, you have witnessed a similar scenario to the one mentioned above and you’ve looked away with horror as the young parent has watched on helplessly as their pink-tutued little ballerina has put on a performance to rival an operatic diva in the last throes of a Wagnerian tragedy?
Oh sure, if we look back over our childhood, most of us will recall with shame a spoilt-brat episode that caused endless embarrassment to our parents.
But the big difference is, it seems these days, that very few of these public displays of willful recalcitrance are suitably punished. And I just don’t mean the smack across the back of the legs, or the light clip across the ears, or even the rigid finger-wag in front of the blubbery face of the tearfully tiny offender.
Too often the tantrum has worked its evil magic resulting in the complete backdown by the discomforted parent who can then be heard saying: “OK I’m sorry sweetheart, I’ll go back and buy you those shoes you wanted.”
As for keeping the noise down on hot summer Sunday afternoons around the pool when the kids are given free rein to scream and holler and shriek as loudly as they want without once being told to consider the din may be disturbing the people next door…..or those five houses down the street
“Aw come on, the kids have to be allowed to express themselves, it’s an Aussie tradition to run wild around the pool on those scorching summer days,” I hear you say.
And in this particular area, I must admit I’d be on shaky ground. When we were kids, we didn’t have a pool in the backyard but Dad used to turn the sprinkler on and we’d caper and holler and run screaming in and out of the cascading torrent like savages around a cannibal’s cooking pot.
Dear Mrs Richards next door must have gone through hell. But we didn’t think much of it until Mum would get us to go and and do a “Bob-A-Job” chore for the sweet old lady to atone for our sins.
Many’s the time also when the footy we’d be kicking around would sail over the fence into Mrs R’s prized veggie garden.
Depending on what particular treasured plant food was impacted by the flying leathery missile, would determine how long it took her to return the offending object.
If it landed on the rhubarb or potatoes or some other such hardy species, we’d get it back straightaway..but if it’s erratic flight path saw it plunging down on to the delicate tomatoes or runner beans, we might have to wait for a few days to retrieve our ball.
But looking back, as well as the odd garden chores like mowing her lawn for her, we’d also be told by our parents to run any errands for our frail neighbour and to keep an eye out if we saw her struggling home with the heavy shopping basket.
Do you reckon that happens much these days?