Yesterday I did the shopping at the supermarket and happened to notice a woman trailing two kids round the supermarket with her. Dressed in head to toe Nike they whined their round the supermarket putting whatever they felt like in the trolley and screeching like banshees every time the mother dared to question anything they added. I think I spotted some apples in the trolley but the rest of it was pizza, crisps, chocolate, fizzy drinks and various other crap. They'd have got more nutrition chewing on their own shoes than eating the weekly shop. Then they arrived at the electronics department and found the computer games. The eldest, who must have been about 8, decided he wanted a computer game but it was an 18. Mum objected on both price and age limit. This didn't go down well, the resulting tantrum drew shoppers from around the building to witness the splendid and awe inspiring wobbly that this child was chucking. He was on the floor, arms and legs going like pistons, screaming and throwing anything he could get his hands on. Eventually the mother gave in, the game was in the trolley and in an instant the child was back next to the trolley adding a bag of mini Kit-Kats like nothing had ever happened.

This made me think back to my childhood in the early 80s. When we were young my mum and dad were broke, really broke. My dad was doing his nurse training and my mum was supporting us on one wage. My little brother and me used to go shopping with mum, she'd have a list of things in her head that she needed for the week and that is what we'd be going home with, no more and no less. My brother and I would run round the aisles collecting things that she wanted and putting them in the trolley. We didn't have sugary things, in fact we didn't have anything with E numbers in it either because my brother was allergic to one of the common ones, it sent him up the wall. If we'd have thrown a strop like that in a supermarket not only would we not be getting what we wanted, we not be getting anything at all, probably for the next ten years. I remember having a throw myself on the floor tantrum once at home, my mum stepped over me and carried on doing what she was doing, ignoring me entirely. I never bothered doing it again, it seemed pointless.

We didn't have expensive toys when I was small. I remember playing with a farm set that my parents had bought me a bit at a time and I loved it to bits. We also had hours of fun making plasticine out of flour, water and food colouring and then creating things and baking them solid. My mum made me a toy cooker out of a biscuit tin and some coloured circles of card and got me a little set of pans so then I could make 'dinner parties'. And of course there was always mud. My best friend in all the world at that time (I'm actually still good friends with her) was Louise and she lived on my street, her mum and mine had become friends when they were pregnant and we kind of lived in interchangable houses, we were always together at one house or another and we LOVED mud. There's some lovely photos of the pair of us coated in it. I used to have a t-shirt with a lion on it that squeaked when you pressed the logo, Lou used to try and make the lion squeak by making mud balls and throwing them at it. Mud in pans, mud in bowls, mud in buckets, mud in hair, eyes and fingernails. We loved mud.

The thing that all our inexpensive toys and games had in common was that although you could play them on your own they were miles better when played with someone else and so that's what we did. We were always out and about in street, playing with friends, making our own fun and making a mess. I've watched my friends children and something has changed since the time I was small. They do play out but not nearly so much as I did and the big change is computer games. All they seem to want to do is play on the X Box or the Playstation and these games aren't often designed for more than one person. So they sit in their bedrooms for hours and hours on end, absorbing brightly coloured moving images and loud, dramatic noises. Soon they've become so saturated in action that nothing else really interests them because nothing else is fast paced enough to equal the excitement, the games that we used to play together as children would bore them rigid in about ten minutes. Some of the kids you see, like the brats in the supermarket, have such appalling social skills and you can't help wondering if it isn't because they aren't going out and socialising. They can't write a story in school because they aren't reading at home, they are playing on computers and they have no idea how to utilise their imagination because all their scenes are set out clearly for them on a screen. I'm not saying all kids are like this because they aren't and I'm not saying computer games should be banned because I'm sure they have a place but brats like the supermarket kids seem to be cropping up more and more and I know that if I had kids I'd be trying to steer them towards the more sociable pastimes. I also know that if I'd done what that child did in a supermarket I'd have got the hiding of my life when I got home! And what's more, I'd hve earned it.  

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10 Responses

  1. [esto es genial]

  2. The only people who are PC about chavs are those who live in large houses in areas where there aren't any and who shop online or at Waitrose. In other words politicians. Those of us who have to live around them on a day to day basis are well aware that they are complete scrotes.

  3. Exactly! well said.

  4. Aaah, your childhood (as far as toys and not having money, anyway) sounds like mine. I miss that stuff. If my kids acted like that in the store there is NO WAY I would have put up with it. Even at ages 4½ and 1½ they know not to ask for anything or at least if they do ask then they accept the word 'no.'
    We have video games here but the kids aren't allowed to play them. And their tv time is limited. Lots of mums that I know think it's awful that I won't let them watch tv whenever they want but oh well! I'd rather be out playing in the mud too, haha.

  5. Oh I hated watching parents give in to the demands of little brats!!!If you get everything as a child, you never learn to really appreciate it, even if you try to explain that other kids don't get what they do. Blah blah, if your kid gets every thing they want the become a selfish bastard as an adult.

  6. I agree with you on the TV thing. I don't know much about kids but I do know that there's a whole lifetime you can spend watching tv and childhood is so very short that they should be encouraged to make the most of it. It's only for a few years that you have no responsibilities, few chores, no homework and no job, all the time in the world to play out and make your own fun and since kids don't realise that then it's up to parents to encourage them to enjoy it!

  7. Well done that mom! If more parents had the courage to do that and face the screaming fit that followed then there'd be fewer obnoxious kids growing into appalling adults. My guess is that it'd only take one or two instances for the child to get the message.

  8. Loved your recollections of your childhood, Vicola… reminded me so much of my own! 🙂

  9. if it works once, then they know they just have to keep going to get their way. I think parents give in to the rude looks from others who hate listening to kids scream. I heard a lady once who said out loud "you should leave you children at home" I said to her "maybe you should shop online if the public bothers you so much" the mom looked at me with such relief. Children are loud, if you do not like listening to loud children do not go out in public. Ha!

  10. These types of mothers here in the US who let their children get away with this sort of behaviour say, , "S/He's having a 'meltdown'." Whenever one of their brats acts up like this. It always makes me chuckle cynically. "Meltdown' — A euphemism that sounds like a result of global warming, but is really a unjustified excuse for bad parenting.

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