Flying colours and flying punches

A couple of weeks ago, I was out shopping with my son, when I suddenly became aware he was no longer next to me. I turned and noticed he was engrossed in conversation with the shop-floor salesman. He must have been talking Playstation games as he was clearly animated and had temporarily lost control of his index finger, which was pointing in the gentleman’s direction.

I have an aversion towards indirect or passive aggressive behaviour

Unthinkingly and rather automatically, I interrupted their conversation and told my son that it was rude to point, which naturally embarrassed him no end. No sooner had the words tumbled out, I immediately regretted them, and driving back home and for a few hours afterwards, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that perhaps, in my zeal to be a parent and teach my son manners, I had overstepped and been a little bad-mannered myself.

You see, there are times when you definitely have to show your children up publicly, and times when you ought to take them aside and do so privately, in the privacy of your home.

In many instances, the lesson is learned more effectively precisely because it is carried out in public. At other times, especially when the transgression is negligible and clearly unintentional, with no malice aforethought, you don’t really want or need to be embarrassing your children in public, which could be perceived as cruel and potentially counter-productive.

Knowing when to separate one instance from the other, I suppose, comes down to the fine art of good parenting. And occasionally getting it wrong is also a fundamental part of the process and par for the course.

I was a child at a time when parents didn’t really stop to think they might have fouled or at the very least, ought to have done things differently. Or if they did, they never let us know.

Apologising to your children is a rather new phenomenon. I was occasionally embarrassed publicly and learned many valuable lessons because of it.

I did apologise to my son after that. I admitted I was overzealous in my reproach. Admittedly, I probably went through the motions of the public admonition symbolically – more by way of atonement. It was my way of apologising to the salesman on my son’s behalf, and in doing so, I was far more loyal to the gentleman than I was to my son. I suppose I am the sort of person who would much rather spare an innocent outsider grief even at the risk of giving my son more grief than he deserves.

In short, I’d much rather err on the side of caution than be one of those mothers who watches her son destroy the contents of an entire shop.

Or throw a tantrum inside a restaurant and look on matter of factly, even blankly, seemingly oblivious to the huge inconvenience and annoyance of other patrons who have spent valuable money on babysitting to make sure to enjoy their evening. That sort of disregard and disrespect angers me like nobody’s business.

Now pointing one’s finger would hardly qualify as rude. And it most certainly does not qualify as a huge inconvenience. It’s more to do with manners and etiquette and is as inappropriate or annoying as raising your pinky when drinking a beverage. Nobody gets hurt in the process.

However, had my son referred to anyone as ‘yuk’ or ‘jaq’ – whether or not the interjection was followed swiftly by a political or racial slur – I’d have thumped him one, very hard. And in doing so, I’d have spared the injured party doing so. That is precisely how it is done.

I have no time for politically or racially disparaging remarks and even less time for people who encourage or permit them. Especially when the remarks spout from the mouths of children and parents are therefore well within their power to put a stop to them.

In my book, that constitutes slappable behaviour in the extreme, or what we call ‘tad-daqqiet ta’ ħarta’. Behaviour like that provokes violent reactions within me.

It reminds me of people who find nothing untoward about double parking in front of your garage, or in front of your vehicle at any rate, without leaving so much as a note. An hour later, when your mobile battery has died from trying to get hold of the police and you’re soaking wet or about to die of heatstroke, they saunter towards you and regard you offhandedly, without so much as an apology.

Yes, that sense of entitlement and hostile arrogance drives me to distraction and I could willingly hit somebody like that. But of course you can’t. And you don’t. Because unfortunately we live in a world where passive aggressiveness goes by largely unnoticed and unpunished, while external bruises always show up and look far worse.

And when the bruises are inflicted by Labourites, they somehow have more punch and make the newspapers and history for years to come. Though, it’s getting a bit old now.

I have an aversion towards indirect or passive aggressive behaviour. I find it a most disturbing trait. I have a much easier time with someone who is prepared to punch me in the face and face the music, than with someone who stabs me in the back when nobody is looking.

The people who flocked to Facebook and their blogs to tell us all about the woman who was hit by the PL hothead – who idiotically succumbed to provocation and let rip – weren’t the least bit worried about the poor woman. They’d have probably preferred it had she wound up on the ITU’s critical list. That would have made their case against PL so much stronger.

I have always been very aware of the stigma surrounding Labourites, but as far as I knew, the stigmatisation was never perpetuated and endorsed by the PN and the leaders themselves.

They got through this campaign with flying colours – literally. Colour was all the rage and flew around flippantly. Divide and rule – not very cool.

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