Monday, 14 November 2011

There are screams

from next door again. The older child is throwing a temper tantrum again. He is six - definitely old enough to know better.
I know he is supposed to be getting ready for school. He is not particularly fond of school. I suspect that much of that has to do with the fact that he is required to do as he is told there. This would not suit him at all. He dislikes sitting still or being quiet.
He can be a nice little boy. When his father is around he is generally polite enough. I think he is intelligent. Certainly he can solve problems. He likes to be the leader. On the rare occasions he is allowed to play with the children opposite I notice that he tries to control the flow of play.
Mornings however are bad news. His two year old brother screams if he does not get his own way too. It makes for noisy mornings.
Fortunately, for these purposes, my father cannot hear the racket as well as I can. As a former teacher he has strong views on ill-disciplined children. These two are ill-disciplined. I think part of it might be due to frustration.
I think their mother means well but she smothers them. She rarely lets them out of her sight.
She does not go to work so she has been able to spend almost all her time with them. She plays with them almost to the exclusion of everything else. They have no garden. Their front yard looks as if the house is abandoned. The weeds are, once again, almost waist high. She claims there is "no time" to garden. Clothes are never hung on a line. Everything, even on the sunniest days, goes into a tumble dryer. Her husband cooks the evening meal because she is "too busy" with the children.
The older child is now trying to test his independence a little. He wants to do things, such as play with the neighbouring children, and she wants his attention instead.
My mother had this problem with her mother. When my brother and I were sent to live with my maternal grandmother the same thing happened. We were allowed to leave the house just in time to get to school. We had to be back at the house for lunch and then back again in the afternoon as soon as possible after school had ended. My grandmother claimed it was about "feeling responsible" but it was far more than that. She wanted us there as company for her. She made no effort to seek company elsewhere - something she would have been quite capable of doing. Controlling us was, in her eyes, a much better option.
Our neighbour is the same. She seeks no company anywhere else. They have, to the best of our knowledge, never had visitors apart from her husband's sister. We have never been asked to mind the children so they can have a night out.
There is a list of telephone numbers on our refrigerator. They are numbers for people we might need to contact in an emergency. One of those numbers is the husband's work number. I hope we never need to use it. I wonder though what would happen if something happened so that she could not devote her attention solely to her children.
I think they would manage without her but would she manage without them?

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