I hate being wrong. But I freely admit when I’m wrong. It is hard work trying to be right all of the time and sometimes it totally breaks down. The following is an embarrassing case in point, starting with the background of how I became wrong.
I’ve been around manipulative brats all of my life. I know how they work. I couldn’t quite get a perfect grasp on this behavior until I was an adult and had the chance to catch them off guard enough to let them know that I’m not falling for it, thus gaining a certain amount of respect. Enough to get them to stop altogether or pause and give me a knowing look. Sometimes they have even explained in minute detail how they cry or throw a fit or in other ways control their parents. This is from kids as young as 2 years old. Some of these kids only speak in baby talk to everybody else, but have explained these facts to me concisely and vividly, like showboating serial killers.
So, in the past my accuracy has been 100% in identifying and targeting a brat to help. I really think that you need to target the individual child if you are going to accomplish anything. When I was a kid I never wanted to be a brat, and I appreciated the angry and rude comments that people made to me when they thought I was being a brat because they were telling me useful information. Not that I was a brat, but I was perceived that way by others. Many also thought of me as stupid, ugly, loudmouthed, obnoxious, irritating, boring, lazy and a show-off know-it-all. These were all untrue, except for maybe the “loudmouthed” thing, I have always talked loud. I often noticed that the majority of people where I grew up seemed to hate me but were quiet about it. Well, they were quiet about it to my face. I would constantly be hearing rumors about me, and this is all when I was under 5 years old. It was very disappointing that people wouldn’t express their feelings to my face. I knew from getting hit in the face with undeniable demographic proof that the product “me” had little or no market appeal and I was in serious need of re-branding.
Now, I know that most brats don’t want to hear everybody’s opinions (and, as I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t a brat), but like a serial killer they are waiting eagerly for the moment that they are caught by what in their mind is a Sherlock Holmes type who will appreciate all they have accomplished in their Telletubby sized life of crime. They aren’t concerned about any demo except Mommy (and/or Daddy), and they know how to keep the hype machine rolling.
Knowing that you can’t speak to parents because they just get defensive and that the direct approach to the child is the only thing that works (because you need to speak to the boss if you want to get anything accomplished), I have often approached a brat in such a way as to startle them into seeing that there are others that are on to what they are doing.
The other day I was at a local shopping and eating establishment getting some lunch, and this kid is clearly having a tantrum. This goes on for several minutes, in fact it carries throughout the entire lunch. The kid was fussing and crying, and simply would not stop. Sure, it slowed down every so often, but it just went on and on. The mother was just acting like nothing was going on and catering to the child like all mothers of brats do. So, as I was going to throw away my lunch packaging fragments, I decided to just walk up to the kid and tell him to shut up. So, that’s exactly what I did. Well, as I mentioned before I do tend to speak loudly, and it was more like a lion roaring than the simple (I know what you’re up to) statement I was trying to make. I attribute about 50% of this resonance to the concrete everywhere which echoed.
Almost everyone there started clapping and cheering. They were thrilled that I had done this. I began to suspect something was seriously wrong when so many jumped on board with what I had done, especially since it came off as much more extreme than what I meant to do. But I realized that I had made a big mistake when the kid started crying again. Not a tantrum cry or a I’m going to make you squirm cry, but the same monotone cry as his previous post tantrum cry. He wasn’t phased at all by my “ah ha! got you” approach other than a minor break in the routine. I’ve never seen this before, but I became instantly aware that this kid probably has some sort of neurological disorder that makes him cry. Needless to say, I felt sick about this misunderstanding, even though there were still grateful people all around, even an employee (a very understanding looking woman) thanked me for what I had done. I had already started to realize what I had really done and it just made me feel that much worse receiving all this acclaim.
I knew that I had misjudged the situation, and thus my reaction was totally wrong. I had found out that many people (men women and children) were secretly wishing they could do the same thing and because I actually did it, I had reenforced in their minds that that was the right thing to do. I still have to say, in most cases it is the right thing to do. And as I had already expressed in a different way, the little brats know that it is done out of concern. Even so, I won’t ever do that again.
It is more embarrassing to do something stupid and have so many people on your side cheering than it is to get beat up for doing something stupid.
All that being said, I have a horrible nervous reaction to crying. I can’t take it. Maybe it is because when I was born until a few months later I cried constantly. I don’t remember this far back (my earliest specific memories are from a year and a half old), but my parents remember. I know that I was in pain, and I vividly remember that I hated being a baby.
In all of this I still think it is worthy of note that this woman took her kid to a public place to make people hate him. Nobody knew the kid, nobody knew his problems. But you know that the kid sensed the hatred people were feeling for him. He was clearly not enjoying himself, and he didn’t even eat. He threw his pizza on the floor before I walked up to him. If it was my child, I would have at least told management, so I would have some understanding allies, not for myself, but for the kid. More likely, I would announce to everyone near me what was happening and ask them to tell others, as they came in, thus raising awareness to the fact that such a situation even exists. And insulating the child from angry stares to instead be greeted with understanding eyes.
She clearly was not phased about making a scene, because it was a huge scene, a spectacle. Whether she thinks she’s helping that kid or not by not explaining it to people proactively, the kid has to be painfully aware of the issue. I don’t care what his aptitude is or his “IQ”, that kid knows his life sucks, and it would be a major relief to him if she would let him off the hook when she takes him out in public.
I feel bad for this kid because I know how bad it is to be raised by parents who don’t understand marketing. Even worse, for an enduring moment was part of this campaign. And as I mentioned before, I hate being wrong.
And if this kid fooled me into writing this embarrassing tell-all, then kudos to him! He is going to be the best serial killer of all human history.