About three months ago my next door neighbour's youngest started screaming. I don't mean 'the baby's crying' type of screaming, but a high-pitched, blood-curdling, squealing scream. I started to become sleep deprived, because this would go on all day and all night! I mean, did that child ever sleep? It became so annoying that my husband and I started yelling words of discipline and what's acceptable over the fence (much to the Mum's annoyance), but it worked from time to time.
I guess we could have done the nice neighbourly thing and gone and spoken to them, however there are some rather marked cultural differences and we weren't sure whether having a good set o' lungs was how it should be for them. What I did know, it was rapidly getting under our skin.
I guess I've become a bit hypersensitive to screaming children now, because I've noticed every time I go out - to the supermarket, walking down the street, just about everywhere - there is a child screaming its head off. For a lolly or for attention or just for the sake of hearing its own voice. What's the matter with words? Teach children words, for heaven's sake!
Children are taking over! Why, oh why is this happening? Is it because parents are lazy? Because they simply can't be bothered saying ssssshhh, or because they're afraid of a tantrum? All I know is that babies aren't born with rules and boundaries or a sense of what is acceptable behaviour - and it's up to us adults to teach them! If this means the odd tantrum or argument, so be it. They'll get the message eventually.
And don't go thinking I'm just a grumpy ole thing who's never had children. I have one child (now 25) and I'm about to become a grandmother in May this year. What I do know is that my daughter was welcomed at the places we visited because she knew how to behave herself in public - and I wasn't afraid of the arguments (of which there were many as she grew up) or the storming about behaving like a spoilt princess.
These days she thanks me for giving her the lessons in life that she had while growing up. She now cites how some of the free range kids she went to school with are now off the rails, while she's a business owner and soon to be a mother herself.
Let's stop being so soft on children and teach them how to be good people, how to have good manners and how to respect the adults around them. And this includes not screaming every time they want something.