OPINION

The Art of Parenting - Reckless Endangerment of Children

January 13, 2007
Deepti Lamba

Today at a mall in Bangalore we got into a tiff with a wacko couple. The woman was hanging her kid over the railing of the second floor, trying to get the one year old to grab a tassel that was hanging outside the rail.

We were on our way down the escalator when we saw the mother dip the kid out once, twice and then by the third time the kid nearly grabbed the tassel and we had our hearts in our mouths. If you want to imagine the scene, think of the 'Michael Jackson fiasco' at close range.

On reaching the retard mother, Aaman told her to - 'Fucking stop tipping the child overboard' and the fight began. The dimwit had the audacity to turn around and say that we should take care of our own kids and not care about others and that the kid was in 'safe hands'.

Right! The fight got bigger. The male psychopath grabbed Aaman and screamed' Take them away or else I will kill them" The woman screamed "I want them out...throw them out!" I screamed back - "You were endangering your child's life" The man tried to hit Aaman but the mall guards intervened, the people on the mall ogled and it became a big fiasco.

We tried to walk away when the mall security realized that the other couple was in the wrong but they followed us screaming "How dare you use abusive language"

I got mad and turned back and called the woman "A bitch" What I should have said was that our language was the least of the problems but the woman endangering the kid's life was the bigger issue.

The woman heard me call her a bitch and created a bigger shit. "Don't you dare let them go...blah ...blah ...blah ..." She went on screaming.

I was near the elevator but decided to get back into the fight but Aaman pushed me back, so did the moron's husband.

And an even more hilarious conversation took place

Aaman: "I apologize for the language but your wife ......"

The woman: "She called my mother a bitch!"

Me: "Your mother? I called you a bitch!"

Psycho husband: "You wife has a foul tongue"

Aaman: "Dee stay at the back, your wife had no business hanging the kid over a second floor railing!"

Psychopath husband: "Fine, I understand your concern but you could have been polite about it. My child was in safe hands, the kid wouldn't have dropped the child. I am a surgeon I have saved numerous lives and know that my child was safe."

That's when I realized how futile the whole exercise was. One would expect a surgeon to have more sense. I hope I'm never under his knife:) We backed out and their parting shot was hilarious- "Bring your kids up the right way!"

I felt like replying- Ya, right! We won't be hanging our kids off any railings!

But then felt it would be like barking back at a rabid dog.

Just because one can get society's stamp of marriage, get fucked and then produce does not make people parents.

One would expect a mother to be always thinking of things that can go wrong. Parenting two active children has meant a constant flurry of keeping sharp pencils away and walking with the child on the 'safe' side of the road, besides a constant 'what-if' mode of risk assessment. The fear of heights is an atavistic instinct, and 'safe hands' do not make a reckless act any more tolerable.

And those who stood by and watched the circus were no less. It all happened in a crowded mall with lots of witnesses but we were the only ones who objected. A child could have died but no one seemed to care.

This is the state of my country and I am upset about it. The 'chalta hai' attitude gets to me. The Noida killing of children barely fluttered the feathers of the public opinion, the mauling and death of an eight year old child by a pack of dogs again merely made headlines and slipped way instead of people protesting about the law that allows strays to roam our streets.

This lethargic attitude of 'minding one's own business' when something criminal is going on right under one's nose should not be tolerated.

The mall security guy motioned us to leave in between the fight instead of calling the cops to arrest the couple for reckless endangerment and that's when I realized that in India nobody really cares what happens to little ones.

Parents beat their kids up black and blue, mentally torture them and act as if the act of giving birth gives them ownership over the little ones.

We parents are guardians of these precious souls, not owners and if I had to intervene all over again I would do it again but with a different line. I would have told that woman that she gave motherhood and us women a bad name.


Deepti Lamba is a writer, an editor for Desicritics. She can be found at Things That Bang
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#1
temporal
URL
January 13, 2007
01:43 PM

dee:

a gem here:

Just because one can get society's stamp of marriage, get fucked and then produce does not make people parents.

:)

and agree with you re: this

This is the state of my country and I am upset about it. The 'chalta hai' attitude gets to me. The Noida killing of children barely fluttered the feathers of the public opinion, the mauling and death of an eight year old child by a pack of dogs again merely made headlines and slipped way instead of people protesting about the law that allows strays to roam our streets.


without being facetious lately it seems the public's ire only rises when the injustice perpetrated involves a pretty face....and that too from a certain income group...sad!

#2
Kishore
URL
January 13, 2007
06:10 PM

Horrifying Dee.. Whatever happened to the over-cautious, over-protective mothers.. this is simply effing horrifying...

#3
Tanay
URL
January 13, 2007
07:24 PM

Deepti,

"My child was in safe hands, the kid wouldn't have dropped the child. I am a surgeon I have saved numerous lives and know that my child was safe", that so called gentleman was a surgeon,so what ? He made a mistake and thats it..Moreso if he knew that it was something wrong,why he didn't ask his family members not to do that..

A similar incident happened with me,a few days back. In the B'lore airport,just near to the entry gate cab stand,I saw a lady carrying a baby in busy belt,the cute one cuddled in the mom's chest.She had another child,who would be around 4+ years and that kid was standing near to the luggage. What pissed me off was that lady,took out a cigarette stick and started smoking with the cute little hardly a few centimeters away,resting in the belt.

After waiting for 2 minutes,with a double mind,should I go and tell her not to do that or leave it,I finally made my way and told
" If you don't mind,can you give me the baby and you can go to a distance and finish your smoke."

I guess that pissed her off and she said "Mind your own business" . Few other people around saw this and were staring at me as if I did a crime.

Later on that kept me thinking in my flight as it was a short fly to Hyd and I made this post.
http://remainconnected.blogspot.com/2006/12/gotta-have-just-one-more.html

But Deepti,what you and Aaman did was just right. I know the words which you and Aaman uttered were never intentional,its that at the spur of the moment you just couldn't believe what you saw.Both of you are parents with kids,and so the calculus and the chemistry of feelings are more felt and spontaneous and hence the POSITIVE reaction. Please don't care about the surgeon, and his statement was snobbish and a NEGATIVE reaction.

I have five fingers in my hand and there is something called a middle finger,does the surgeon know that :)

#4
Deepti Lamba
URL
January 14, 2007
02:05 AM

t, unfortunately lives come cheap in India (words of another wise DC editor).

Kishore, like I said before having a reproductive system does not automatically make responsible parents;)

Tanay, unfortunately sanity nowadays is a rare phenomena.

#5
Sujai
URL
January 14, 2007
06:07 AM

I saw a mom allowing a four/five year old kid to drive her car. The kid was in her lap and was completely managing the steering wheel :)

I stood there dumbfounded. [This was in Bangalore!]

So, I guess everything goes! :) ["Sab chalta hai"]

#6
Vi
URL
January 14, 2007
10:19 PM

"Parents beat their kids up black and blue, mentally torture them and act as if the act of giving birth gives them ownership over the little ones."

Though physical abuse is very real, I have noticed that some parents found a way to control their children without it by using fear to keep their children under their control. They seem to confuse the idea of respect and fear and follow the idea that fear must exist and that respect shall ensue.

This attitude isn't just in India, I've seen it in the US as well. Parents are touchy about what and how much other people (note: the government) has a say in the child's education and often get away with many things.

If you ask me, people like that don't deserve to have children. Though harsh, I'd love to see some sort of parent-licensing reform, for the sake of the children, at least (though I know that the idea won't be taken by many.)

#7
Vi
URL
January 14, 2007
10:20 PM

And by the way: good for you for standing up for those kids and yourself!

#8
Deepti Lamba
URL
January 14, 2007
11:20 PM

Sujai and Vi, at least in America there are laws to protect children but here in India apart from that impotent anti-child labor law I have yet to see other concrete laws where we can call the services to check on abusive homes and educational institutions.

Home schooling maybe good in terms of keeping kids away from bad company, guns, drugs, sex etc but I wonder whether they would have the confidence to fend for themselves in the big bad world.

#9
Truman
URL
January 16, 2007
01:20 AM

I know exactly what you are talking about. Life is cheap in India. There are numerous incidents happening everyday on the streets. How many times have you seen an ambulance stuck in a traffic jam? No one is bothered about giving it space to move on. Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of an ambulance?

Besides, parenting has taken a backseat nowadays. In the malls, I have seen many parents literally "forget" their kids. It is the security that ultimately locates those parents while they handle crying kids. In fact I have seen this a few times, the security guys teaching the parents a lesson or two in parenting.

I am glad for what you said to the couple. They did deserve it.

#10
Diana
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January 19, 2007
01:54 PM

Why is it that you wont allow any comments with constructive criticism to appear online?

#11
Diana
URL
January 19, 2007
01:57 PM

I personally feel that you didn't address the issue in a proper and rational manner.
Even if you felt that those parents were in the wrong, getting into a massive argument involving swearing in filth would have done more damage to the children listening in.
Is that the sort of example you would want to set? To resolve conflicts through rage and abuse?

I think THAT is the real problem in our society.

Parents abuse their children in worse ways.

#12
Aaman
URL
January 19, 2007
01:59 PM

Your comment might have got wiped in spam cleanup, thanks for reposting.

Do you really think hearing something offensive is worse than falling off a second-floor railing? Sometimes strong language is the only way of getting someone's attention, especially when there is a life at stake.

#13
Diana
URL
January 25, 2007
11:17 PM

Whether or not that child was going to fall is debatable. Parents sing their kids around or put them up on their shoulders playfully all the time. It all depends on how safe you feel.

I am not saying it was a completely safe thing to do. But at the end of the day, I think bringing children up to be loud and abusive adults who resort to verbal tirades in public over issues that could be dealt with calmly, is much bigger issue to worry about.

#14
Diana
URL
January 25, 2007
11:18 PM

By the way, I'm sorry about the typos in that comment! ;-)

#15
Aaman
URL
January 26, 2007
02:41 AM

You weren't there - this was not a child on the shoulders - this was a child dangling from the second floor of a crowded mall. Safety first, fuck language:) It's not as if foul language is an everyday affair, but whatever it takes, given the gravity of the situation.

#16
Diana
URL
January 27, 2007
03:55 AM

Foul language isn't an everyday affair??
I suggest you just read your post again to get the answer. ;-)

#17
DesiGirl
URL
January 27, 2007
08:55 AM

Just because one can get society's stamp of marriage, get fucked and then produce does not make people parents.

Oh Dee, only you could put it so succintly!! You get 'em, girl! You should have asked the bloke for his name so we steer clear of him when he's in his surgeon mode. "oops I just nicked an artery... chalta hai!"

But joking aside, good on you and Aaman to interfere and give your two bits worth. May your tribe increase!

#18
Deepti Lamba
URL
January 27, 2007
09:33 AM

DG, Salman Rushdie had once remarked that we are ready to take spousal abuse to task but turn a blind eye when it comes to child abuse.

Diana, I rather not be polite when I see an adult endangering a child's life. To you there may be worse ways of abuse but to me its zero tolerance policy, you rather find excuses when parents abuse their children, I rather take them to task, you rather mask your indifference towards children's fate with cheap shots at minding one's manners I rather tell them what they really are.

This is my anger against the Indian middle class either you watch from the sidelines or point fingers at those who objected against the wrong doing in the first place.

What you are deliberately turning a blind eye is to the fact that a child's life was being put in danger but I guess you rather be polite to the abuser than take them to task.



#19
Amrita
URL
January 27, 2007
09:53 AM

Dee, I swear I didnt read this before I posted that reply to you on my post, but dude, total word on this! I cannot believe that moron! what, did she and the retard she married think that the kid's made out of velcro? or maybe she has fevicol hands.

whatever, kudos to you for stepping up and doing something about it instead of looking away as most people would have done. it can't have been fun for you or aaman to have a screaming match in the middle of a mall but hopefully, those dumbasses will think twice before pulling a stunt like that again.

the treatment of children in this country is a scandal. it bugs the hell out of me everytime some old fogie belts out the "bachche bhagwan ka roop hain" defense to show how much better indians treat their kids. its true that that concept does exist and there are lots of parents who're obsessed with their kids but children virtually have no rights.

every once in a while the horror stories come tumbling out - orphanages where children are viciously abused, teachers who rape their students without ever being found out and who get away with it even when they are found out because the parents are afraid of "badnaami", and of course, the example that Nithari outlined so starkly - the children of the poor seen as something less than human because their parents arent rich enough to command either respect or attention.

every so often some idiot politico or journo will come on tv and make a grave face and then boom! its all about what ash rai is gonna wear to her wedding and hang any kiddies that might be in danger. NGOs are supposed to pick up the slack in children;s services and lot of them do, but for how long and to what effect?

you're the first indian i've seen in years to write something about children's rights in india. long may your tribe increase.

#20
Deepti Lamba
URL
January 27, 2007
10:18 AM

Amrita, we live in a village and frequently I get to see small children barely a year old toddling around on streets alone with parents working at construction sites or building roads.

Poverty makes their hearts hard but there are no excuses for those who are comfortably off.

Recently a lawyer friend of mine remarked that even stray dogs seem to enjoy better protection from the law than children.



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