I have known some lovely parents and children in recent memory. Toddlers even, who somehow failed to grow up into brats, having been nurtured in a milieu not entirely free from spankings, but lacking not in loving discipline and conscientious care either. Happily, such lures to the idea of creating little budaks typically receive timely jolts that spare both the world and the budaks from petty inconveniences and lifelong burdens.
Lunch today was at a sushi bar (a mediocre heartland mall sort of place with emphatically lackadaisical service – we were there only because of a $20 voucher that is the hard-earned reward of staying loyal to my mobile telco provider for nearly two years; nothing to shout about, but it beats the $250 I would owe them should I fall prey to more tempting partners).
Being disinclined to darken my demeanour, I tolerated a meal (they also can't tell the difference between a bento and a don) enhanced by lively rhythms and the charming antics of a young female behind me, who evidently thought the (shared back) bench was her personal stomping ground and clearly preferred some other treats to inari and unagi. It was only after we had finished our meal that I finally bothered to turn back to determine if the ghastly shrills came from a banshee or mere brat.
Now, children are individuals in their own right, and I can sympathise with the countless parents with their hands full trying to control unruly offspring, especially in public. What is inexcusable, however, are parents who allow their children to run rampant, disturbing commuters, diners, servicespeople and shoppers without battling an eyelid. Worse are those who actually seem to condone behaviour that can only be called selfish; how else can one describe one mother I saw last week who calmly allowed her pre-school daughter to rush and occupy a newly available seat in a crowded bus even as a heavily burdened lady with an infant was trying to make her way there? (for the record, I was hanging on for dear life at the front)
Not content merely to condone the way their children
step stomp on the toes of the hapless, dowdy dames who morph into creatures more ferocious than cave trolls with tongues sharper than a Balrog's whip are an increasingly common hazard of the urban jungle (country kids are for some reason more irrepressible and yet tolerably respectful to strangers compared to their more civilised relations). I encountered one such guardian demon in the MRT when I protested the way a bulky pre-teen was shoving mrs budak while trying to leave the train. "Ignore these rude people," she admonished her obese gift to mankind.
Back to our sashimi story. If the beefy sire of that wailing mandrake in an Osh Kosh Bgosh dress had smiled good-naturedly (even wryly) and muttered the least indication of "really sorry, ol' chap, about her, she's just had [a jab, cooties, nappy rash, piano lessons, ballet class, incontinence treatment.... take your pick]... and as you can see, it makes her quite a handful," I would have been happy to respond with a shrug. But it seemed the man preferred to unleash his wrath on disturbed fellow patrons than say the least word of reprimand to his own begotten living angel, meeting my disapproving eye with the classic retort, "you got problem?" With the graciousness of a rabid bull, he followed up this entrée with a barrage of similarly rejoinders to the effect of "who do you think you are to complain about the attention my darling princess has bestowed upon your lunch?"
Though sad to some, it's a fact of life that the loud drown out the vocally-challenged, and thus meek little budak declined to engage in a shouting match and instead channel his base instincts towards an essay in self-restraint. It's the least I could do, for many have observed the supreme irony and injustice that those without children actually care – claim the right even – to comment on parental practices, because (*gasp*) the little angels that are evidence of God's grace are giving us grief beyond compare.
"The first half of our lives is ruined by our parents, and the second half by our children."
– Clarence Darrow –