Fishwife tale

accreditation
I hear her before I see her.

A fishwife in twinset and pearls, shouting at her teen daughter in front of the hair accessories in Pick n Pay. I admit, I don’t know what happened before I got there. So maybe I’ve misinterpreted everything I saw. If I have, then I’m really sorry.

Perhaps a debate on scrunchies vs banana clips got out of hand. Perhaps daughter dropped some epic bombshell as I rounded the corner. Perhaps she insulted her mother’s embroidered jumper. Perhaps she deserved to be called bloody obnoxious and a pathetic stupid waste of her mother’s time.    

Whatever she did to deserve it, all I see is a girl of about 16 standing perfectly still, listening to her mother call her names. She’s not rolling her eyes. She’s not snarling in that infuriating sullen teen way. She’s just waiting for it to be over.  And she looks like she’s heard it all before. It’s painful to watch.

Banshee Momma doesn’t miss a beat as we approach, and tries to suck me in. She catches my eye with that universal Harassed Mother Glance (like the Masonic handshake, only more desperate). ‘Kids! You know what they’re like!’

She’s sure I’ll understand; haven’t we all been there? She smiles ruefully in mid-harangue. I don’t smile back.

Isn’t the HMG reserved for mothers trying to peel a loud sticky toddler off the ride-on panda?  I don’t think it’s meant to be used to excuse your own screechy public tantrum. It’s like sneaking into the Moms & Tots parking bay when your car is tot-less – just not on, lady.  

I’m offended by her attempts to make me an accomplice. As far as I can see, what she’s doing is not discipline. It’s not even the momentary explosive venting that escapes you when you’ve really reached the end of your rope. It’s just the way she normally talks to her daughter, and she thinks everybody else does it too.

She eyes my stony face. Grabbing the girl’s arm, she literally shoves her down the aisle, hissing ‘See; now everybody’s looking at you!’

It’s on the tip of my tongue – I was so close.  ‘No, you old bat. We’re looking at YOU.’

God, I wish I’d said it. I never would, of course. But I should have.

What should Tracy have done with this misbehaving mom?


Read more by Tracy Engelbrecht
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What are your thoughts on the possibility of having permanent Stage 2 or 3 load shedding?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
I'll take that over constant schedule changes
13% - 1404 votes
Why are we normalising Eskom’s mess?
72% - 7752 votes
I've already found alternative ways of powering my home/business
15% - 1607 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.48
-2.3%
Rand - Pound
21.07
-0.8%
Rand - Euro
18.88
-1.2%
Rand - Aus dollar
12.10
-0.1%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.4%
Platinum
973.57
-5.0%
Palladium
1,621.00
-2.9%
Gold
1,865.26
-2.5%
Silver
22.34
-4.8%
Brent Crude
82.17
-0.8%
Top 40
74,082
+0.6%
All Share
80,241
+0.6%
Resource 10
75,186
+0.7%
Industrial 25
103,461
+0.8%
Financial 15
16,550
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE