This is a true story but I've changed the names - to protect myself from my Mother.
There was a man named Syrus that we were very close to.
When Syrus died he wanted to be buried up in Georgia, next to his wife.
They had a graveside service and people drove from far and wide to say goodbye to Syrus.
Syrus had a number of grandchildren but he had one grandson in particular that was four at the time.
We'll call him Benji.
Now it was obvious to all who knew Benji that he'd never been disciplined a day in his life. For anything.
We got to the cemetery and they had one of those giant tents with lots of chairs set up and of course Benji was front and center in his little suit.
Everyone sat down and the preacher started his sermon. About 3 minutes in Benji jumped up, went running up to the casket, made a fist, banged repeatedly on the casket and yelled "Is anybody in there?!!!” at the top of his lungs.
The preacher stopped speaking and everything went very quiet.
Except for the sound of Benji banging on the casket.
Stunned silence followed.
Benji's mother got up walked up to the casket, picked the kid up, turned around to face everyone and said “He’s just a handful” and then she laughed.
Not a nervous, oh my God my child actually did that laugh, but an I think this is hysterically funny kind of laugh.
Well, that tent was filled with old southern folks and they were shocked beyond words and as I looked around I could tell that not another soul thought that was in any way funny.
The preacher resumed his sermon and Benji, who was now pinned down in his father’s lap, screamed, screeched, yelled and wiggled through the rest of the service.
I saw several people sneak up and offer to take the boy out into the parking lot so he could be disruptive all he wanted and it wouldn’t affect the service but both of his parents declined every time.
Twenty minutes or so later the service ended and as people begin getting up to leave the grandson went running back up to the casket, banging on it and yelling “Hello!”
And his parents let him do it! I saw the preacher try to distract the boy so he’d stop but Benji completely ignored him.
People stood and stared while his parents mingled and acted like this wasn’t happening at all.
The Island King and I talked about the incident all of the way home and it’s still something we both vividly remember.
Disclaimer: Little Benji wasn't distraught because he thought his grandfather was trapped in the casket. We learned later that he had no knowledge of that. This was just a prime example of what happens when parents believe children should be 100% free to express themselves without ever suffering any consequences at all.
From then on whenever our kids have done something embarrassing, the Island King and I have looked at each other and said "Well, at least he wasn't banging on a casket"