Some Thoughts on “The Slap”

My boyfriend and I recently finished the Australian series called The Slap. Originally based on a book, this well done production from 2011 was only eight episodes long. But we got hooked. I enjoyed how well-rounded the characters were and in each of the episodes, you see a different perspective from each person.

The story surrounds the events that unfolded at Hector’s 40th birthday barbecue where he invited both family and close friends to celebrate his mid-crisis day. A little four year old boy named Hugo terrorizes all the others, pulling out LPs from Hector’s beloved jazz collection, breaking the console of one of the kids’ play stations and throwing general tantrums.

His mother, Rosie, refuses to discipline him and each time he causes a ruckus, she quickly tries to soothe the four year old by offering him her breast.

Yes, the kid still breastfeeds.

I really have nothing against breastfeeding and think that it is a really powerful way for a child to bond with his or her mother. But breastfeeding a four year old? I know that this series was fictional, but we couldn’t help ourselves from being a little repulsed at this concept. The mother herself could not see that something was fundamentally wrong.

Her parenting style was completely non-authoritarian. That is why the kid had the freedom to be the brat he was and rampage throughout the home. Rosie never punished Hugo – he was always the victim. Her husband Gary, who happened to be an alcoholic, did not have any say in the matter. She was running the whole show.

What subsequently happened during a cricket match with the kids was Hugo swinging a bat at the others. He kicked one of the adults in the shin incredibly hard and Hector’s cousin Harry ends up slapping the kid on the face. It’s a mixed moment for the audience because personally you probably wanted to slap that kid as well.

But what transpires afterwards is really fascinating as you begin to see each person’s point of view, what they thought of the slap, the loyalties of family versus friends and how the relationships suddenly become more complicated when Rosie and Gary choose to press charges.

When I watched these scenes, all I could think about were those types of parents who let their children run wild without any discipline at all. They give their kids choices and try to reason with them, creating entitled little monsters who will never apologize for their actions.

During one scene in the series, Anouk, a longtime friend of Rosie’s, tells her blatantly that everyone wanted to slap Hugo that day and that Rosie never punishes him. Upon hearing this very honest feedback, Rosie goes ballistic and then implies that her friend does not have the right to say anything about it because Anouk is not a mother.

If you don’t have a child, why are you not allowed to have an opinion on this? Even thought I’m not a mother, I do have a certain degree of emotional and social awareness and I do know how to treat other people. This applies to kids as well. Sure, it’s hard to raise a child and I may not know exactly what it entails, but I can still take a stand.

And my opinion is this –

They need leaders in the family, not just parents who want to be their friends or treat them as special beings. Parenting, much like dog-training, is about being firm when needed and affectionate at other times. It is not one or the other.

I thought that the show was incredibly well done – depicting the difficulties of being not just a parent, but being human. We all have faults and we all do things that can have severe ramifications. But being an adult means that you learn to take responsibility for your actions. And being a parent means that you ideally teach that to your kids.

Hopefully, from this point, we can teach and raise kids who really care and develop some empathy. And be role models for them – whether or not we are biological parents.

Photo Credit:  Flickr Creative Commons via Mindaugus Danys.

Jula Pereira

Jula Pereira

I am a freelance writer living the good life in beautiful Sonoma County with my partner and our dog Timmy. Please say hello on Twitter or connect with me on Facebook.

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