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Sunday, January 02, 2005

Shut Up and Sit Down, Kid

A very sad story from the tsunami:

Tilly Smith, from Oxshott, Surrey, was holidaying with her parents and seven-year-old sister on Maikhao beach in Phuket, Thailand, when the tide rushed out.

As the other tourists watched in amazement, the water began to bubble and the boats on the horizon started to violently bob up and down.

Tilly, who had studied tsunamis in a geography class two weeks earlier, quickly realised they were in danger.

She told her mother they had to get off the beach immediately and warned that it could be a tsunami.

And her mother slapped her across the mouth and told her to shut the hell up, just what the hell did she know, anyway, and did she think she knew more than all these adults? Huh, Miss Smarty Pants? I don't care what that damned teacher of yours told you, he don't know shit and neither do you, so just shut the hell up. No, I'll tell you what you can do, you can just go straight up to the room for the rest of the day, because I am just Sick and Tired of listening to you talk.

So the little girl went back up to their room on the eighth floor of the hotel, and minutes later her parents were swept away by the tsunami, and have not been seen since.

No, wait! That's not right. That's what would have happened if the girl had had good old-fashioned parents -- the kind not afraid to exercise a little discipline -- instead of this lax, modern pair she has. What really happened was:

Her parents alerted the other holidaymakers and staff at their hotel, which was quickly evacuated. The wave crashed a few minutes later, but no one on the beach was killed or seriously injured.

In an interview with the Sun, Tilly gave the credit to her geography teacher, Andrew Kearney, at Oxshott's Danes Hill Prep School.

She said "Last term Mr Kearney taught us about earthquakes and how they can cause tsunamis.

"I was on the beach and the water started to go funny. There were bubbles and the tide went out all of a sudden.

"I recognised what was happening and had a feeling there was going to be a tsunami. I told mummy."

Yes, yes, the girl's family, plus about a hundred other people, were saved because her parents believed her. I suppose you could call that a happy story. But it was all due to bad parenting, damn it! Now she'll go around believing she's special, or something, and never learn her proper place in the world.

Via the very model of a modern Micklethwait at Samizdata, who apparently doesn't see the downside.