A child comes into the restaurant with her grandmother and they both sit down together besides me. The child appears to be maybe three to five years old and she immediately displays a knee jerk response of inappropriate social shyness towards me (an unknown authority figure) when I say hello and wave at her in a goofy but amicable manner.
A moment later, the girl has changed positions and sits kneeling and prone across two seats with her butt pointed towards her grandmother. The child has now figured out that I am being silly to everyone around me and that I am not flexing my authority over anyone, including her. She becomes much more relaxed and begins smiling at me while making some silly and somewhat indecipherable noises that I know to be indications of her nervous or excitable energy. She is “playing” with me or “charming” me because she still doesn’t know for sure where she stands with me. In other words, she doesn’t know how much she can manipulate me or get away with around me, because I am a foreign authority figure to her normal existence. Her behavior is subtle enough not to threaten or upset me in any hostile manner while she gently ramps up her “dominance” or willful behavior to whatever level she can successfully achieve. This is extremely normal social behavior for a child who is highly aware and extremely intelligent, but who has not been taught appropriate structure, boundaries, and respect at home.
Meanwhile, the grandmother is rubbing and massaging the girl’s lower back. She does this as she tells me along with an sympathetic grin that “She makes me do this every night before she goes to bed.”
I smile back, because this isn’t my fight and there is absolutely nothing that I can do to help the situation even though I can accurately predict the next forty to fifty years of this little girl’s life. I slay my rational thoughts and focus on smiling like a blubbering idiot as I reply “And why wouldn’t she? I suppose that’s to be expected. Everyone loves to be massaged or get a good back and butt rub! That’s good stuff for the body and soul no matter who you happen to be.”
A brief period of time passes. I go back to being more focused on my book and eating my mid day breakfast. In the periphery of my mind and senses though, I do notice the little girl is proceeding behaviorally in the exact manner that I would normally expect for this dynamic. The child has grown louder with her nervous and excitable noises, and she has further ramped up her “assertive influence” on the environment by picking up her metal silverware in her hand, making a giant screeching metal crayon amalgamation of that silverware, and then drawing creatively with her new “instrument of attention” all over the table in front of her. This behavior continues for a few minutes, during which her grandmother appears completely obvious or perhaps satially content at the “creativeness” and/or “innocent adorable playfulness” of her granddaughter’s actions, but for anyone truly paying attention to the reality of the situation, the child’s antics are factually more disrespectful and rude in nature than anything else.
Again, I slay my thoughts as much as possible and shift all remaining unutilized reserve power to “Full Shields” on my starboard side.
The server, who happens to know this grandmother and grandchild by name, and who has been friendly and jovial with both since they came into the restaurant, walks over to the counter directly in front of them, and begins to try and take their food order from the grandmother. After a second or two, it is apparent that the noise of the giant screeching metal crayon amalgamation being wielded upon the table is making any reasonable communication and thinking, along with the order taking, nearly impossible. The server in a stable and steady firm voice says “Darling, you gotta stop that. You are scratching up the whole table top doing that. That’s not good. You can’t do be doing that. Okay?”
The little girl immediately and appropriately stopped, but then the grandmother now reflexively displaying hissyfit features and gesticulations of her face, neck, and arms, replied to the caught-off-guard server something along the lines of “Well, I guess we just won’t order then! We’ll go eat somewhere else!”, getting up and marching out the door before a further rational thought or comment might even register to anyone else.
The server had a reflexive, agonal, trailing off of “what. . . I. .what did she. . .huh. . . . . did she just. . .oh. . okay.”
This little girl would typically be a child of high awareness, intelligence, and drive. She is borne into a family environment that is not stable enough and/or aware enough to understand how to provide her with proper structure, boundaries, and balanced objective perception. Thus, such a child is inappropriately and pathologically addressed either through manipulative spoiling (over-nurturing) or induction of fear (overdominance). Neither leads to stability, accurate perception, or respect for others. Instead, it leads to the behavior noted by the little girl in the story above.
The grandmother displayed typical over-nurturing behavior towards her granddaughter, which unfortunately encourages the repetitive cyclical indoctrination of bad behavior and confusion of the child to “appear completely normal” to the child.
The server issued a stable and appropriate correction to the child. The correction was not over-the-top and it did not produce a fear response. It was and is precisely the type of “correction” and “tough love” that that little girl needs to develop properly in mind, body, soul, and spirit.
The grandmother ran (flight) because she knows she is too weak (or unstable) to be an effective authority figure or parent, even to an itty bitty little girl, who really needs her help. The server brought that reality into the grandmother’s focus, so the grandmother took her “victim” and her awareness and exchanged it, quite eagerly, for the anger and victim card of distraction and delusion.
Waffle House Conversations