Parents giving time out? How about it’s time to grow up?

Shelley Blundell

The other day, I was perusing the aisles at the local grocery store, when my sensory perception was suddenly invaded by the piercing shriek of an infant. As an on-again, off-again baby sitter used to such aural offense, it was not the shriek, per se, that destroyed what had otherwise been a pleasant shopping experience for me – it was the adult accompanying the puny shrieker who was trying to placate its inherent noisiness with bribery and, when that did not work, reason, that really irked me.

Reason? With an infant? You may as well go Christmas fishing with Scott Peterson – it’s just not cricket.

As I listened with amusement to the beleaguered grown-up’s pleas for quiet, calm and serenity in the grocery store, I couldn’t help but laugh at this sad state of affairs, chortling to myself: “What fool tries to reason with an infant?”

But then it happened again. Only this time, the tantrum-thrower was not a mini-member of the human race. The cry-baby was, in fact, a cry-adult.

Now that I am more aware of this ridiculous affair, I tend to notice adult temper tantrums in a lot different places: the grocery store, the car mechanic, the emergency room, the office of Student Services – anywhere the potential for upset exists. I’m curious. When did this kind of activity become OK?

I’ll tell you who started it – the person who invented time out.

My house was a disciplined one. There was no “reasoning” with us, or pleading with us to stop our little show for the neighbors if we threw a fit. It was a paddle on the bum or no TV. Sometimes, if we were bad enough, it was both punishments rolled into one. As I got older, just the threat of said punishments could usually stop me dead in my tracks and, needless to say, temper tantrums were a non-entity at the Blundell House.

In my opinion, this worked, and I say this with full awareness of the devious kinds of minds children have. If I had been placed in time out, the only thing that would have occurred in this period would have been the creation of a sneakier plot to avoid capture next time I perpetrated the deed that had landed me in time out in the first place.

You see, there is no reasoning with children. There is a reason, however, that children need adult supervision – children, when left to their own devices, make bad decisions. Can you imagine leaving your child with more children as caretakers? It would be one big running-with-scissors, swimming-right-after-you’ve-eaten, watching-cartoons-till-2 a.m., no-nap-taking, all-candy-eating nightmare fest.

Say it with me: Children = bad decision-makers.

So here’s the problem – reasoning with children elevates them to a superior level. Do this long enough and they begin to think they are superior to you. Allow them to mature (and I use the term “mature” loosely) with this manner of thinking, and they soon believe they are superior to everyone, and the cry-adult is born.

Do yourself a favor – next time you see an offending cry-adult, ask them in a loud and clear voice if they’re upset because they’ve lost their binky. Or, possibly, need a diaper change.

No matter what age you are, bad behavior should never be rewarded. After all, what is the American prison system if not one big time out?

Shelley Blundell is a history graduate, a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].