The Hostile Child

In the holidays, children come out to play. Big children, small children. Lots of vibrant little minds. Red haired children, black haired children. Blue eyes, green eyes, grey eyes, brown eyes. Tall, short. Fat, thin.

Mean…. and kind.

Today I walked past some kids, and I said, ‘I hate kids.’

I did hate those kids. They were loud and obnoxious. And they sniggered rude things about me as I walked past. I smiled in a way that I know was patronising.

I love kids. Small kids. Even rude, small kids. I eventually won their respect when I was a teacher. I loved to teach them, even when they did not love to learn. There was a ten year old boy who all the teachers complained about. He was honestly a handful and a half. I found him hilarious. He had a quick wit, and if I wasn’t supposed to manage a class of thirty children, I would have probably laughed at his witty comebacks. However, I kept my face stony and told him to save it for the playground. He was always in trouble in my classes, in all classes, but I made sure it was fair, and I made sure he got his work done.

On my last day at school, I was walking by with a colleague and saw that naughty kid where stood beside his mother.

‘Hey, miss!’ he called, and I turned. He ran up to me and slipped a small wrapped easter egg into my hand, ‘This is because you’re leaving.’ He looked so shy and ran back to his mother without looking at me. I was so touched. I thought, sometimes teaching is worth it.

Then I moved to this crappy town. Where I smell weed everywhere. Where the glass windows of bus stop shelters are shattered. Where children swear at you as you pass. Where they hang around smoking and talking about things children shouldn’t think about until they are much older.

And as I walked, I thought, ‘I hate kids.’

I am a supply teacher here, though. I will have to deal with kids like these, and worse. It won’t be a little witty joke in class or a disrespectful stare anymore.

And I can’t think, ‘I hate kids,’ and just walk on by. I will have to deal with these kids. And you know, it isn’t always their faults.

Today a small girl was screaming into the wind, and I saw the ecstatic joy on her face because she was probably having a moment of freedom. Her shout was cut short suddenly, harshly, when her mother whacked her around her face and said, ‘Shut your mouth you stupid cow.’

Now I am not one to judge parenting, honestly. Maybe the mum was having a bad day. But the look of complete humiliation on that little girl’s face made me feel awful for her. Honestly, though, in this town, this is not the first nor the tenth time I have seen incidents like this. A mother shoving her face right into a toddler’s face and screaming at her to ‘bloody keep up or I’ll kick you one’. Kids who are brought up in a hostile environment tend to become hostile too. They become hostile adolescents and then hostile adults.

And teachers don’t really change much, but they can do their best to teach that hostility towards others is wrong. Who knows. Maybe a kid will realise as it gets older and change its ways? Who knows.

I am not looking forward to teaching the kids in this town, after what I’ve seen these past five months. On a daily basis. However, I am gong to try. I am going to enter with a positive attitude and good intentions. I am going to go in thinking, ‘I love kids.’

Kids need love, to give love. And I was given so much love as a kid. So it’s time to give it back out into the world.

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The Darker Side of Parents.

Because I tutor children, there are some things I have realised about different mothers (who are generally the primary dealers with me).

The main thing, of course, is that they do like to talk about their kids. The thing is, you see, I really am not interested in what Aaron ate for lunch last night, or how late Peter went to bed (theoretical names).

I genuinely DO NOT CARE. I care how much your son knows or if your daughter has done her homework, but all those little details about how good they are… I don’t care.

A mother’s opinion is highly subjective, of course. I know lots of mothers who take it too far. For example, my mother in law, doesn’t like it when anybody else highlights anything bad about her kids even though some of them are right brats. RIGHT brats, I tell you, and it really annoys me. They aren’t perfect just because you birthed them, you know. And they genuinely are horrible and mean, e.g. one of my bro in laws is pretty mean to my little brother so my mum doesn’t want them to mix as much.

Even with D, if I say something, even if its so small like ‘Oh, D couldn’t cook to save his life’ (because I always cook and a girl gets sick of that you know? And he can’t cook but you could darn well learn to, even if you hate it, and help your wife out a little. He acts like such a baby when it comes to cooking I swear) she will say ‘awww but he’s my baby, he’s such a good boy, his heart is in the right place.’

Um, I’m married to him, I know how he treats me sometimes, it’s like he is a massive child and it’s because he is constantly coddled. I won’t mother him. And I will secretly really seethe when you coddle him and treat him like a child, because that just makes him act like one with me and lately, after living here for a good four months now, it’s getting worse. Gah. I need to move out already.

Anyway, so some mothers like to say how good their kids are and how well-behaved etc etc… BUT I REALLY REALLY DON’T CARE.

I will be the judge of that, thank you, based on how they behave with me. A lot of mothers just can’t accept that their son back talked me or their daughter keeps disrupting the class.

‘Oh but he’s such a good boy he can’t….’

He jolly well can and if you aren’t going to take responsibility he will grow up an arrogant fool and nobody will like him.

For example, a student was late for his lesson and his mother texted that he couldn’t wake up, and it’s fine, of course, sometimes people can’t wake up because they need the extra sleep. So I said,

‘Ok, that’s fine. We can resume next lesson.’

There. End of.

But then she goes on to say, ‘Andrew wakes up at night, he struggles to wake up, and he has poorer health than others. He ate cereal last night and it didn’t agree with him, I think it’s the milk, maybe I should start giving him fruit if he wakes up hungry.’ [this is the literal text, by the way]…. ON and ON and ON.

I get that you want me to understand that he isn’t being spoiled and there is a genuine reason for his tiredness, but spare me all the details.

I really don’t care, lady. It irritates me because then I have to REPLY to it, and I really don’t want to because I didn’t want to know the details about Andrew anyway. He is so rude to me, honestly, and gets really pissy when I correct him, even though it’s my job to, and when I try to explain to him where he went wrong he just grunts at me. Which is rude for a 12 year old boy. But his mother brushes it off saying his cereal put him in a bad mood, or ‘he takes his study so seriously and gets really upset when he gets it wrong.’

Son, you are going to get it wrong plenty of times so learn to deal with it and move on. So I roll with it and smile and nod and say ‘good job’ while inside I am just really wishing I could tell him to stop whining and get on with it.

She also has to bribe him to have lessons, by promising him sweets. Makes my blood boil. She is basically bending over backwards to make him out to be this angel when really he is disrespectful and is too big for his boots, and needs a slap.

Some mothers think that other people have no right to say their kid has done wrong, even if said other person is dealing with their kid for hours and hours a day, even if said person is MARRIED to their kid. No, only you can decide if your kid is being naughty. I think that is very wrong.

My mum’s friend told me she saw that her daughter was being told off by her class teacher at school and suddenly she was gripped with this rush of anger making her hurdle down the stairs so fast to intercept it.

What? I said, But surely the teacher has a right to do that? How else will the teacher maintain discipline in the class?

The lady wasn’t having any of it, though.

Oh no. Not to my baby. She’s an angel, she would never do anything naughty, nobody else can tell her off but me!

I really, really have had it this morning. It’s a combination of lack of sleep, D acting like a big child and being moody with me (because, I dunno, my hair’s a mess?), his whole family in the room last night at 10pm when I just wanted to go to bed because I have been awake since 5:45am and need to get up at 5:45am again tomorrow, and my head pounding like a thousand Thor hammers creating a racket in there, but no, they can sit around and chill while I am blatantly waiting to sleep, his mother babying him (if I hear one more ‘awww my baby’ I will explode!), and all these mothers making excuses for their rude little children.

If I spoke to my teacher like that (I wouldn’t dare to, out of respect), my mother would nip that in the bud quicker than I could blink. She would march me over there and make me apologise, and forget watching movies or having treats for a good week (which is AGES in child time).

Well. Who knows what I will be like when I am a mother. Hopefully I will be sensible and recognise when my child has done wrong, rather than make them think they are angels walking on this earth.

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The Naughty Boy – George Bernard O’Neill