"No you can't stand there. Get out of the way" the angry old man snapped at the child. The child had done nothing wrong and ran to her mum to tell the story of another adult shouting at children for merely existing.
And what follows should be a story of good triumphing over evil. Of said old man being zapped/frozen to the spot by an ice gun. Or even of him just being taught the error of his ways. And of regretting.
But that's just in fairy stories and comics. In real life these people exist all too often, constantly being irritated by the sight of children and always believing that the most innocent of actions is anything but.
The above story is all too true. I was the mum, and the child was my nine-year-old daughter. And the angry old man? Well the less said about him the better.
I don't speak to my children as if they are something nasty. I am well aware that children live what they learn, and even if I wasn't – why would I want to speak to any person like that?
My children are brought up to respect adults, to have manners and to be polite. Meeting an adult who showed none of these qualities was confusing and she couldn't understand why she was being spoken to so rudely when she had done nothing wrong.
In nine years of parenting one of the things that has surprised me the most is the number of people who really don't appear to like children at all. They are suspicious of children, assume they are always up to something they shouldn't be, and make no effort to hide their disdain.
I have heard children being spoken to in ways I don't think any person, adult or child, should be spoken to, and have been even more horrified by the way some children are spoken about. Nothing gets me angrier than hearing the word 'brats'.
I remember one incident a few years back when a woman asked my children and their friends what they had done to a child who was sitting crying. They hadn't done anything. They were comforting her. The adult had automatically assumed the worst.
I have met people who only speak to children by shouting at them, and who take pleasure in putting children down, using their catty tongue as a weapon.
Admittedly I wasn't all that taken with children myself until we decided to have four of our own. And at this point I must confess to having an "I like babies but I could never eat a whole one" badge on my jacket. But it was a joke and I never had outright dislike for them. However, many people take the opposite view, and see no reason to hide their disdain.
It is not surprising that there are website forums set up for people to discuss how much they detest kids and to share with others stories of what it is about children that they don't like. On www.experienceproject.com/groups/Dont-Like-Children/37438 one member writes of how she hates children being so cheery, refers to them being immature and asks why we need to 'reproduce'. Another member (somewhat ironically) moans about children moaning. Worryingly one member admits to being pregnant. Let's hope she changes her mind about disliking children some time soon, for the baby's sake at least
The Facebook group 'I hate children' has more than five thousand members, one of whom airs her desire to push children to the ground whenever she sees one. While some of the group members will be young people who can't imagine ever being old enough to have kids, too many will be people who are relishing this opportunity to air their opinions on what should be done to children and those who choose to have them.
These haters complain that parents expect them to coo over their baby, to fall in love with their child and think everything they do is funny. No, sorry, not me. Yes I admit to sharing funny stories about my children but these are amusing stories in themselves, not simply because a child has played the main part. I don't expect everyone to think my children are all gorgeous or to laugh at everything they say. I'd rather they didn't actually.
I just want them not to be treated as criminals who have been found guilty before the trial, to be spoken to with the same respect given to any human being, and to be accepted as people in their own right, not some walking virus to be destroyed.
So instead these incidents become a learning experience for my children. They now understand that while they are supposed to respect adults, there will be some who really don't deserve that respect and who if possible should be avoided. They know that adults aren't always right and that some people are very unhappy, angry people looking to vent their anger. Sadly children are an easy target.
As a parent, are you shocked by how many adults actively dislike children - and don't mind showing it?
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