From the moment I stepped into the store, I heard her. Young voice screaming, "You don't have the right to tell me to shut up!" Her venomous vitriol never stopped although the volume and pitch changed at times. I thought, "Oh boy, this kid is having a major meltdown".
Later, I encountered mother, her son and the "loud, aggressive daughter" in the produce section. The girl was probably 8-10 years old and just gorgeous. When I first saw her, she was pouting quietly with her head resting on the handle of the cart. The boy, maybe 5-6, was holding onto Mom, apparently for dear life. Smart kid.
I needed about 2-3 carrots and chose them from the "loose carrots" in the display. You know what I mean. The girl marched straight over to me and asked me if I was "poor". "What makes you think so?" "Because you're buying just two carrots". "Well, it's all I need". She turned around and left. Mother looked mortified. I smiled.
In the aisle where the Knorr's Chicken Gravy packets were located, I encountered mother. [We don't "do" turkey anymore...roast chicken is our "thing" after a disastrous "natural" turkey that turned out to be 100% sinew. Seriously, it was a "sides" only Thanksgiving dinner and we laughed the entire time. By the way, I use the Knorr's mix as part of our "legendary" gravy.]
Anyway, mother was standing there staring at the items, but did not appear to be "looking" at them. I had to excuse myself and reached around her to get the packets. She started crying, full-on bawling, that exhausted kind of crying where there's nothing left but to cry. Somewhere in all of that noise, she began apologizing for her daughter's behavior, clearly a well-practiced script.
I could hear "the girl" in another part of the store, berating her brother at the top of her lungs.
I couldn't help myself. I told her my background. I told her we had very little time to "cover" all of the information and grabbed a notepad from my handbag and started telling her my interpretation of "what" I was seeing. She started to "come around".
I tried to get the information out between her horror stories; she began to engage with me and acknowledged that "for the first time, somebody seemed to know something" about her daughter. She tried to get through the "list" of everything she's tried. This woman and her family were lost. Marriage struggling. Father avoiding home. Easy enough to stay at the office. Private school threatening to expel her. Son's personality "changing" (gee, ya' think?). No friends. No one comes over or invites them. No more vacations, movies, dinner out. Nothing. Everyone avoids them. Yep, isolation is a symptom.
Depression (classic irritability of a depressed child)? Early onset bipolar (mood lability and aggressiveness)? She thought it might be Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Not likely given her level of aggression. Gave her an action plan including having her daughter seen by my favorite pediatric endocrinologist at the children's hospital. Why? Because girls this aggressive could be experiencing a hormonal imbalance associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome.
No, shes' not being abused. She's the abuser. I warned her about brother going to school with bruises and scratches because there are child abuse reporting laws for sibling-on-sibling violence. Teachers and school personnel are mandated by law to report if brother says that his sister beats on him.
I told her that I saw the boy "flinch" when people passed close by him, a sign of physical and emotional abuse. The look of terror on her face was indescribable as if she finally realized that she was not the only "victim" of her daughter's behavior.
I described her family as being held emotionally hostage. Crying again. Telling me she's a bad mother. "Oh, no you don't!" This is a neurological condition, likely with genetic roots. Turns out, mother's brother and father are bipolar/depressed, etc. Could have guessed that one.
She took a deep breath, effusively thanked me, left her cart and ran toward a girl screaming, "I'm gonna kill you" and a boy was howling.
I got in line. I was impressed with how exhausted I felt having just the briefest encounter with this child. I sent up a bit of a prayer for this family. Expressed thanks for my own family. I started putting my items on the conveyor belt.
The woman in front of me says, "I saw you talking with THAT mother. That kid needs a good spanking". I tactfully responded, "Sure looks that way, but it's way more complicated than that". Her response? "Kids like that should not be let out of the house." Alrighty then. One battle a day is plenty, thanks...moving on.
Now, I rarely insert myself into situations unless a kid is being abused and then, "Katie bar the door", but this one was a "no-brainer". I'm a firm believer (actually a "knower") that, from time-to-time, we're placed in situations where we can help. So, I did.
You just never know "what" is going on in people's lives, do you?
One thing I do know is that "It's not where you start out that counts, it's where you end up".
Just do the best you can. Have a lovely Thanksgiving.
And, as Tigger says, "Ta-ta for now" (TTFN)...