Target, Everywhere

Saturday June 17th, 2000

Today I’m having one of those days where you know that there is something in the back of your mind bothering you…but you don’t know what. It’s like something that I must have passed by, and then got distracted by life, and it just seated itself somewhere in a corner to wait. So I am aware of something “disturbing” me that I need to think about, but the day has been so long and I’ve been busy and now I no longer remember what it was that caught me. Residue from my day in the world, I suppose. Sometimes that’s randomly damaging…breathing in the world. There are days when it seems that everything will be alright eventually with this Race…we’ll get it figured out that we can’t teach Hate and expect to be a functional society and, as Julian of Norwich once said: “All shall be well.”. Then there are days when my eyes see too much, even though they were trying to look at something else.

Like earlier today I was in a Target shopping center, and this incident occurred: there was a small child and a young mother shopping nearby me. The child had, at some previous point, picked up an empty bar from a metal rack that some employee must have left laying around…and was playing with it. The mother did not care, simply told the child here and there “get over here” when it strayed too far. The child was singing into this metal bar, then trying to eat it (child is about 4 yrs old), then started randomly smacking things with it…like a sword. The child is hitting clothes, other racks, shoe stacks, poles…everything, and the mother does not care, just pulls the child along. Then the child randomly, just a normal tap-everything-around-you-swing, hit the mom’s leg with it (not hard, just a tap). The mother *instantly* flew upon the kid in a rage, no blink time inbetween, hit the child really hard and started yelling “Don’t You Hit ME With That! I’ll Hit YOU! You Don’t Be Hitting ME…” etc as if she were in the midst of some street brawl with a long held enemy. All that street attitude and tough-talk and hitting the child back. I didn’t even have time to react, no-one did. The sheer speed and rage of her return would be enough to make the child, any child and many adults, start crying in shock. And then there was the violence of the blow. Of course, the child fell to its knees and started balling. This made the mother more angry because, I guess, the child was not simply a cart to be dragged along but a living thing that would react, and it only intensified her yelling. She noticed me then, my disapproval, and yanked the child to its feet and hurried off to some other area.

The sad thing is, I see this kind of thing all the time in the public areas surrounding me. It seems so violent to write it, and it strikes me as so, but yet we all pass by it all the time. Mothers in grocery stores dragging their children through the aisles…paying no real attention to what the kid is doing until it forcefully disrupts their concentration and then all is a moment of fury. They never seem to realize why the child is reacting the way it is. It stuns and amazes me that they do not recognize that a child is a Child and it is NOT a full-understanding adult human being. The child does not yet have experience with the world, and this is the experience you are feeding it. Children react to emotions, and if you direct a strong emotion towards a child, the child will form a response based on the positive or negative stimulus it’s being given. The child’s reaction is Not random. We, as adults, however, must be aware that the longevity of our experience with the world affects our many current trains of thought, and that if we react so strongly negatively to a moments disruption in our minds, the child will not instantly follow and our actions will appear random. I am not saying that any child does, or does not know what it is supposed to be doing or not doing…I make no excuses there…but I am saying that we have no right to throw a whole life’s frustration upon anyone at any moment…especially a child who will have no idea what’s going on. A 4 yr old can not (or at least should not have to be able to) say “she’s having a bad day and that’s why she reacted so strongly”…the child sees mommy in a rage directed at him/her. It’s frightening. I can not be convinced that such parental reactions can be the correct response to disciplining any child…because at that point the child is just scared and insecure and it seems to me all other information gets lost in its shock.

I do not expect every parent to be perfect, never be tired or grouchy, always even and justified. However, I do expect the Effort. Hell I know sometimes *I* yell at my cat when it doesn’t deserve it…but I will catch myself and not carry on with it.

And…as a populace…I expect us (myself included) to find a way to make this social norm be known as disapproved and not have to stand for the abuse of our airspace and person — when you throw disrespect and abuse upon another in my vicinity you are also throwing disrespect and abuse upon me. I do not wish to have this with me today. I just wanted to shop.

I can not understand how anyone could not care about how the people in our world are being taught to be. We are building people and these children affect the other children they go to school with, and they grow into adults and then we have to deal with them and all the traits that they’ve developed. If you desire to abuse/disrespect yourself that’s one thing and I have nothing to say about that. But when you disrespect others, even your own children, eventually Other People have to deal with them and then that affect the World. this is not just of concern to me. I disapprove not only out of sympathy for the child developing but also out of social concern for our Race. We can not continue on this path forever. Raise frightened, confused little beings taught to react with fury to their days’ disruptions and expect the world to turn out A-OK.

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