So I have never been the type to go ape over babies and children. I worked for six years in the parks and recreation department of a city, and I learned to spot the good from the bad right away. As a camp counselor, I had the reputation as the "disciplinarian" one. Boys, especially, were not always initially thrilled to land in my group. But once they learned that I would not tolerate foolishness for the sake of it, and was willing to have fun as long as everyone played by the rules, we got along fine.
After stocking up at Trader Joe's on Margherita Pizzas, organic plums, and these lemon wafer cookies from Italy that I cannot seem to stop snarfing down, we stood in the checkout line. Mr. Personality was sitting calmly in the seat of the cart, chomping on some pretzel sticks. From out of nowhere, this little boy comes up to us. I had seen him earlier, he was with his mother and baby sister, and I had noticed him because he was speaking a different language, something Swedish or the like.
With no provocation from myself or Mr. Personality, he sticks his tounge out and blows long, continuous rasberries at us. This lovely child was at least four, old enough to totally know better. Plus, I recognized in his eyes as he attempted to stare us both down, that glint of rebelliousness that means he wants to be an ass.
From my aforementioned years dealing with children, I have perfected what everyone used to call "the look." It is a complete hardening of every feature on my face, a slight narrowing of the eyes, and there is no mistaking the meaning of it. He proceeded to blow even harder. I've got to give it to him, this kid was tough. I glanced around for mom, who was of course, at least 20 feet away browsing through the energy bars. I suppose living with someone like that, she needs all the energy she can muster.
I turned to Mr. Personality, who was looking perplexedly at this tow-headed paragon, and announced in a loud, disapproving voice, "That is not a nice thing to do, is it?" Finally, apparently cowed enough, the boy went back to his mom and sister, who of course got in line right behind us. At least with mom around, there was no repeat of the behavior. Then again, I don't know many children stupid enough to do something like that with a parent inches away.
I couldn't help disliking the child. I can't help sort of disliking any kid who is a big brat. I try to not judge, or to possibly think that it is not necessarily their fault all the time. I don't let my son get away with anything, and it shows in his behavior, which especially in public, is usually excellent. So then I find myself judging the parents, which isn't much better. But really, don't we all judge, all the time? Show me someone who doesn't make judgements, and I'll show you someone with delusions of grandeur.
Or perhaps I am just going to be one of those mean, cranky old ladies who shoos kids off her lawn.