As a child, I used to think that the old lady who lived in a shoe must have had something like 15 children since the rhyme tells us “she had so many children she didn’t know what to do”.
Now that I have my own brood, there are days when I believe she probably only had two or three. It can be enough to drive you to distraction when you live in a house. But living in a shoe, that must be fairly tough on you.
I don’t condone her behaviour and I would never whip mine, soundly or otherwise, but there are times when I feel her despair.
Another thought. Given that she gave them broth without any bread, maybe she had them on a gluten free diet. They could have had allergies, ADHS or all sorts. Who knows?