Monday, September 07, 2009

Myrtle Beach: The Screaming Child

We will remember the third day of our 2009 Myrtle Beach vacation for the screaming girl-child. Her family put up their umbrella and chairs about 15 feet from us. We rent an umbrella and chairs from the lifeguard - expensive, but easier. So we couldn't move.

The couple had three children with them, two girls, who looked to be twins somewhere about age 10, and a younger boy. The boy stole a bottle cap from one of the girls, who was making a sand castle.

"It's mine! It's mine! Give it back give it back give back!" The whine began in a normal voice and quickly grew in volume. Louder. Louder. Louder still.

The boy pestered her a bit; her parents ignored them. Finally she screamed enough that they paid attention. Their male authority figure (black haired, stockily built, northern accent) called a timeout, and sat the boy in a chair and the girl in a chair. The other girl moved to the sandcastle.

The girl in the chair began a constant tirade against her sister. "Gabriella, don't touch that, Gabriella, that's mine, it's mine it's mine mine mine, Daddy make her stop, it's mine Gabriella don't do that, it's mine it's mine." Again an increase in volume, an increase in intensity, until the girl in the chair was screaming. She screamed. And screamed. And screamed for two solid hours.

I don't know how the adults with her stood it and it was obvious she probably does this a lot. She screamed so loudly that every pair of eyes within a football field's length of us trained on this girl, because surely someone was taking a sword to this child's head.

She screamed and screamed and screamed. I wanted to say something to the parents but my husband restrained me. I was trying to rest and read; who could do anything with that racket? It was nerve-wracking and irritating, to say the least. The female adult never said anything; Dad once in a while said "Shut up" but the girl never listened. She screamed so much I thought she might get hoarse but we were not that lucky.

My husband, who was trying to nap, lay there muttering things under his breath like "take her swimming in the deep water" and hoping that the adults would show some couth and shut the kid up, but alas, that did not happen. Had she been mine, I'd have hauled her off to the motel room after 30 seconds of that screaming and made her stay there. For the rest of the day. And then some.

She screamed so much and so hard and so long that my husband at last said the child must be mentally ill. I told him I did not think that; just poorly parented.

After two solid hours of this, my nerves were so raw you would have thought I had ripped them out of my body and exposed them to the air. I do not dislike children - they often amuse me, with their energy and their enthusiasm - but I do not like screaming little brats.

I do not know what the protocol is for dealing with such an incident. I wanted to ask the father for $25 to reimburse us for the umbrella rental; I kind of figured he owed us that. I couldn't figure out how to handle the situation and so did nothing except pray that they would not settle in the same place the next day.

This they did, and the day after and the day after that. Fortunately there were no similar incidents of length, though there were small disturbances of the whining nature. And at one point one of the little brats... um, girls ... came over to my husband and said, "Excuse me, may I please have the time?" which just floored us both.

I know children will be children, and what occurred on subsequent days did not annoy me or bother me; it was easily ignored. Upon reflection I feel sure that this was Daddy with Step Mom or Girl Friend and his children have learned how to take advantage of the problems in the family structure. However, that is no excuse for poor manners and selfishness.

9 comments:

  1. Well, I'm happy to hear that your accomodations were at least an improvement from last time, but sounds like the atmosphere left a lot to be desired. A screaming child is an unpleasant experience anytime, but to have to contend with that on your vacation is particularly annoying. So sorry you and your husband had to deal with that. I can sympathize, as we have had a new family rent the doublewide below us, and they have a girlchild who screams for long periods apparently just to hear herself scream. We haven't been sitting on our porch nearly as much as usual because listening to the little banshee is so intolerable.

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  2. Ginger - fortunately it wasn't so bad the following days. I definitely would have said something to those adults if it had continued.

    Beth - thanks for the empathy. I am sorry you're living next door to one of those screaming banshees!

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  3. We plan our vacations in 'adult only' locations... just can't take incidents such as you described.

    Snappy Di

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  4. I get irritated at parents who refuse to take a screaming child outside or leave when in a restaurant. When my kids were young, my husband or I tried to be as considerate as possible to others around us. When our children were going through certain stages, we realize maybe it was best to eat in. Of course that was when our children were infants and toddlers. Not sure the reason with your beach fiasco.

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  5. Wow, you have a whole lot more tolerance and patience than I do! I think I would have packed my things and asked the lifeguard for a refund and gone sightseeing or gone to another beach elsewhere. Two hours???!!

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  6. I remember when I was little I was taught how to behave in public - how to behave in a considerate way that didn't draw attention to myself, that is. The idea of "making a scene" in public was anathema to my parents, and has become so to me. Even eating in public was frowned on, beyond the odd candyfloss or ice cream treat. What's more, if I had "made a scene" other adults would have intervened - children weren't taught to be automatically rude to strangers then, all adults weren't automatically suspected of being sex offenders, and they all maintained a common code of good public behaviour. I suppose it is not extraordinary that nowadays adults are afraid to remonstrate with badly behaved kids or their parents (should they be present), since kids are encouraged to be rude and offensive to adults. I think it is extraordinary, however, and very bad for our sense of society and the rules that bind it together, that the idea of behaving well in public seems to have been turfed out in favour of spontaneous self expression at all costs.

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  8. I'm tense just reading this. Sounds like a real meltdown. I was thinking maybe she was autisitic but it doesn't sound like it. I guess I would have removed her if I was her parent and it went on so long. The worse thing would be to give in to her screaming, which at least they didn't do.

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