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    Volume 9 Issue 3 | January 15, 2010|

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Taming Spoilt Brats

Aasha Mehreen Amin

Nobody likes spoilt brats. Except of course their parents because they have to, although sometimes even they feel exasperated and bewildered thinking: Where did we go wrong? You see it happens rather insidiously: parents can't show their love enough and give their little darling (read tyrant) whatever they want. It may start as something as innocuous as a bar of chocolate, a toy gun but over the years it may be a year's supply of Yabba (of course the doting, delusional parents think it's for eating fried chicken or for gasoline money) or a Tommy gun (the shona manik needs to protect himself). Many of you will object to the obvious gender discrimination and it is true that spoilt brats of the female kind can be just as toxic but due to our parochial culture, there is more opportunity for males to become spoilt brats and grow up into monsters of society. Because their parents (or parent organisations) made them into monsters.

Children of course need love, support and encouragement in their efforts. But they also need boundaries, otherwise they can keep on adding on to their bratty behaviour to infinite levels. This means you just have to say 'NO' when your angelic kid keeps hitting his classmates, just because he can intimidate them, snatching away their toys, their lunches, taking over their seats, saying swear words even in front of the teacher. All this is old news to many of you but before you start yawning please note that sometimes spoilt brats don't automatically morph into decent human beings just because they are grown up. In fact, chances are if parents or whatever higher authority do not set limits for these young people they will continue their bullying well into adulthood.

It is when parents who are either in total denial or have completely lost control of their wards or have absolute political power, that their children end up being royal pains for the society, sometimes the entire country. They end up extorting huge amounts of cash from every businessman, even the paan wala on the street corner; they become the sole go-between for any government deal; they can get anyone arrested, tortured even killed just with a flick of their fingers and they can be involved in every kind of seedy, underhand business with complete impunity. Because their mommies and daddies have decided to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear even though the entire nation is bleeding because of the wounds inflicted by their children.

Now translate this into another context. Parent organisations have minion leagues consisting of overgrown 'children' who might even have a few kids of their own and of course a battery of toys - a machete or two, a few sawed off shot guns, barrels full of home-made cocktails and other stuff that they somehow manage to put an invisibility cloak over as nobody ever seems to see them tucked away under the bed or inside the toy boxes. Of course there is a junior league for each organisation that decided they needed some representatives in the various learning institutions, just so that they can be used to bully the right people at the right time. Each league has their own specialty, some rely on grabbing everything they can at school (including the dorm rooms) as well as outside, others use bullets to get the point across while still others go looking for tendons to sever. Every now and then these juniors who are the bullies of day will have a meltdown, a tantrum because some other bully has managed to wangle some tender cookies from the jar. As expected a fight will ensue and many bullies will get battered and bruised, there might be even a few casualties. For all these 'misdemeanours' the guardians of the parent organisations will give them 'stern warnings' which everyone knows the demonic wards will not give two hoots about. Not a slap on the hand or a 'timeout' or an expulsion from the parent organisation, but a stern warning!

Obviously these guardians have created monsters they cannot control. Most parents cannot go against their children and have them locked up. But sometimes they have to for the sake of the neighbourhood and for the sake of their own skins. Bullies will bully so long as we let them but obviously it is their official guardians who have to rein them in first.

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