Building a Monster

Our people love a bit of gossip. Soaps we say. How else do you explain the continued popularity of daytime TV, a dying genre in the U.S. Or the lingering at hair salons and barbershops long after the styling and marking are complete. The more salacious and titillating the better.

And so it was on a cool, damp evening, as I boarded a shuttle bus anxious to embark on the two minute trip after a long day, an argument broke out between a couple. And we were all subconsciously tuned in. It seemed rather innocuous at first.

“Why you eh go and look for your mun where you have him?”

“My mun? What about all the bitches you have all over the place? Why you not talking about that?”

It was the usual fare. A sadly commonplace domestic dispute between a clearly troubled twosome, which barely drew a passing glance from the other passengers. Until this disturbing exchange.

“Tell your mommy shut up.”

“Shut up mommy!” a little voice piped up. Heads rolled to see a tiny tot, maybe not more than three-years-old planted firmly between the dysfunctional duo.

“Tell your mommy what bullshit you talking there.”

“What bullshit you talking there?” he parroted automatically, blissfully unaware of the emotional damage being inflicted by his parents.

The ‘mother’ let out a tirade of profanity, aimed at the man, but ricocheting off her son, who dutifully repeated the onslaught.

Even in the dark I could see people shaking their head sorrowfully and hear others muttering their disapproval. One woman said what everyone was thinking, “This is how the cycle starts.”

We have often heard how important the formative years of a child’s life are. That age between birth and five years is when they learn quicker than any other stage in their life. Both the good and bad. The knowledge and behaviour they acquire during this period pretty much charts the course of their life’s journey. In keeping with that, one of the most influential relationships a child will have is with parents. They are the adults charged with exhibiting acceptable behaviour that the child can emulate.

But there was nothing about this pair’s behaviour that warranted imitation. What they have done is positioned their precious progeny for a life of potential misogyny at the very least.

According to research done by Canada’s Center for Children and Families in the Justice System, as products of this toxic environment , “Children see their mother as helpless, down trodden, stupid. They may acquire the abuser’s view of the woman as unworthy of respect and some will see her as a legitimate target of abuse.”

And the father’s deliberate tactics “Interferes with mother’s attempts to create structure; contradicts her rules; rewards child’s disrespectful behaviour to mother; ridicules mother; portrays her as incompetent in front of child.”

Ironically, the mother – and I use the term loosely – seemed to acquire some self -awareness when she finally said, “Stop it. You’re making me look stupid in front of my child.”

Actually, no dear. You’ve managed to do that all by yourself by continually allowing this man to make a mockery of you while you continue to spew hateful vitriol towards him in front of complete strangers, and most importantly your impressionable toddler.

Lady, you are NOT the victim here.

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