Yesterday, as My Beloved and I stood in line to receive the embrace of the world renowned humanitarian and Indian spiritual leader Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, also known as “Amma, or the Hugging Saint” at her ashram in San Ramon, I came face to face with what I believe to be one of of the most insidious assaults on all that is decent…the over-indulged, badly behaved child.
Ok, there are multiple double-takes to be had in that introduction, so take a deep breath, and release the grip on your pearls, I will explain. My Beloved can be patient man. When this City Girl landed on The Ranch, he knew that packed in my bags were some things he would just have to roll his eyes and shake his head at, like my love of foreign films, yoga, meditation, and my nightly proclamations that our house isn’t clean enough (said of course by a woman who is a clean freak.) Going to see Amma was just one of those things. His only request on this pilgrimage was that I shield him from any of the “dirty hippies,” or Liberals known to frequent these events. Deal.
When we arrived at the ashram, we felt victorious that we were 15th and 16th in line, having learned that Amma’s programs often attract hundreds, even thousands, at a time. Cranky from our 0415 reveille, things were looking up–the weather was gorgeous, no stench of patchouli oil, and things seemed calm and well organized. That was until our line was redistributed as we prepared to enter the hall where we found ourselves in the cloying presence of a 6 year old boy named Devon.
As we stood in our socks on the steps waiting to go in, it started. While most were engaged in hushed conversations or quietly meditating out of respect for the “sacred” ground, Devon, with his whiny shriek, announced that he believed his father was made of “53,000 bricks,” and gave his father a swift punch to the gut. I didn’t react at first. Initially, I thought, “Wow, it must suck to be this kid having to get up early and wait in line for an event he could not possibly comprehend.” Giving Devon this benefit of the doubt lasted about 45 seconds–thanks to his father.
The second Devon’s father opened his mouth in response, I knew exactly why this kid was afflicted with SKS–shitty kid syndrome. “Devon, that’s not comfy, you know Daddy’s rib has an owie.” Yes, those words came from a grown man’s lips. I should have known. Devon’s father was exactly the overly sensitive, straggly haired, emasculated pansy (with an English accent to boot) you would expect to say something as ridiculous as that. I hate to admit it, but as I stood in line waiting to see a beacon of compassion, I felt the urge to commit assault with great bodily injury.
It was evident that this kid was accustomed to doing exactly as he pleased, regardless of the irritation or offense it caused others. Each subsequent burst of shouting in line or rib shot was met with “that’s not nice love.” Devon’s pathetic father even employed the questionable technique of pretending to be a dinosaur to try and distract this demon. Devon never let up.
By this time, My Beloved and I were not the only ones glaring at Devon and his father. Even the D & D weirdo in front of us who was reading Lord of the Rings, (and had suspiciously Hobbit-like feet) shot old Devon a few withering looks. It wasn’t just that this kid and his father were annoying–they were downright disrespectful. For me, this visit was about satisfying my curiosity, but for the vast majority of the people in line, this was a spiritual, or even religious experience. Why was this idiot not disciplining his son knowing that? What if this was in a mainstream church or synagogue? Is this where we are as a society?
Wedged between The Hobbit and Devon, I knew that for My Beloved, the situation was getting desperate. Luckily, the doors opened and we were calmly ushered to our seats. If there was any divine intervention that day, it came in the form of being seated dozens of seats away from Devon and his father. With the opening meditation and embrace from the Hugging Saint, the frayed nerves were supple once again.
Some could easily pass my account of Devil Devon off as the mere intolerance of a childless woman, who (insert whiny, self important voice here) “doesn’t understand how hard it is to be a parent,” or that maybe I am ignorant of Devon’s “special needs.” I hope you can hear my hearty laugh at any of that. What spoiled and over indulged Devon was in “special need” of yesterday was some “F-ing” boundaries, or maybe even a well-timed visit from smiley Mr. Backhand.
I am not a expert in child psychology, nor do I think you need to be in order to see that the mode of parenting which lets the child be “king” is selfish and lazy. What made Devon’s father’s behavior so revolting was not only did he not correct it, with his weakness he encouraged it. How can you expect to prepare your child for the realities and expectations of adulthood when you let them run wild like savages? What is so wrong with telling a child in no uncertain terms that his behavior is unacceptable and following that up with consistent, reasonable punishment if necessary? Why does everyone else have to suffer because you are failing at your responsibility? For heaven’s sake BE A PARENT!
In my profession, I have seen the reeking product of poor parenting sitting “in the box,” waiting for their case to be called at arraignment. It’s apparent to me that children without no boundaries, become maladjusted adults with no boundaries.
Despite the countless examples of poor parenting readers can cite, some may still insist on defending Devon’s father’s behavior as evolved and liberated parenting. I just call it tragic. Hopefully with a little common sense and regrowth of our collective backbone, together we can find a cure for SKS.