Friday, November 11, 2005

Rowdy Children

I love that this article is stirring up so much discussion. I TOTALLY side with the shop owner, and laugh about the people who are "boycotting." To them I say, good riddance! You are the very people we (who enjoy a peaceful eating/shopping/library/churchgoing experience) wish would stay home!! Oh, that sounds so mean. But consider this:

One time, a couple of summers ago, Husband and I were out doing some errands. When we got back to the little village where we lived, I asked Hub to stop at the local coffee joint so I could just run in and grab a drink to go. I figured I'd be out in about 5 minutes. I got in line behind two young-ish women (early 30s I suppose) who had two little girls with them, approximately 4 or 5 years old. The girls were, ahem, barefoot. In an eating establishment. Ick. The two of them ran around, squealing, disrupting two gentlemen who were trying to play chess, while the mothers chatted, oblivious.

This coffee house has a large glass case at the counter with lots of tempting, pretty desserts displayed on pedestals. When it was their turn to order, the women asked the girls what they wanted from the case.

Are you f***ing kidding me??

First of all, you figure out what you will be ordering for yourself and your child before it is your turn to actually place the order. And second, you don't give a 4 year-old free reign at the dessert case. Consequently an argument ensued between mother and daughter because daughter wanted the pretty little tiny green pie. The key lime tart, to be exact. The mother must have figured out that it is the rare 4 year-old who will actually eat anything that is key lime flavored because she proceeded to argue with the kid. I mean she actually ARGUED!!! Desperate for another option to make her kid happy, this woman went on to give the guy at the counter a hard time because they only offer one size and one flavor ice cream sundae as a special feature in the summer. It's an artsy presentation, meant for adults, but she tried to bully him into creating something special for her kid. What??? By this time I wanted to scream, "this is a coffee shop, lady! For adults! If you want to buy your brat an ice cream cone, there's a Kone King down the street. Now get out of my way!!"

So. In my big book o' parenting, you just don't argue with a little kid. Maybe I am wrong here, but I think the better thing to do is to pretend the dessert case isn't even there and say to the kid, "I'm going to order a brownie. Would you like to share it with me?" And don't even give the kid a damn choice!! Or, if you are desperate to let the kid have a say, offer two options only. "You may have one dessert. Would you prefer a cookie or a brownie?" I also abhor people who argue with the staff, trying to create something that doesn't exist just to make their kid happy. Is this what we should teach our children? That they are so special they should always get whatever they want, wherever they go? Restaurants don't just make up menus for the laughs...the items listed were chosen with careful thought. There is a difference between asking the waiter to leave off the pickles because you're allergic, and asking the waiter if the cook could please prepare something that doesn't exist on the menu at all.

Anyway, this woman caved and ordered the little green tart. Which the kid, of course, hated. Her little friend got a brownie, so then another battle ensued at the table because she now wanted that instead. So the mother (again) caved and gave the kid the dessert she, herself, was enjoying. This shut the kid up, but what did it teach her? That she can manipulate her mother and get anything she wants.

Incidentally, during this whole circus the father was there, casually reading a newspaper or something while his wife, her friend, and their children turned a nice coffee shop into a ring of hell. And my quick cup of coffee ended up taking 20 minutes. I should have just left and gone through the Tim Horton's drive thru, but I was kind of fascinated by how this whole thing was playing out. The worst part about it was that:

a) no one said anything at all to these people (not even the guy behind the counter when one of the kids started reaching behind the counter and touching stuff) and
b) the women could have cared less.

Alrighty then. Almost 7 months ago I became a mother for the first time. My baby happens to be the quiet type; usually she rides along in the cart or stroller, sucking on her fingers and taking things in. However, she has the occasional meltdown, and when this happens I trip over myself to remove her from earshot. One day we were shopping at Kohl's and she started screaming bloody murder...and I must have apologized seven hundred times to anyone nearby while running for the door. Another time my girlfriend and I were at our LYS with our babies (who are 6 days apart) and they both started freaking we hit the sidewalk immediately. Forget the yarn, we can always come back another time or order online. It is not worth the embarrassment of knowing we are making others uncomfortable.

Obviously this is a topic I truly care about. I was a teacher before becoming a mom so I have seen firsthand the results of lame parenting (I could go on ad nauseum about that, but I won't). I fear what will happen to Daughter when all our careful parenting meets these destructo-children populating our nation's kindergarten classrooms. So please, Moms and Dads, do yourselves and your children and your children's teachers and classmates a favor...take the kids to age-appropriate places when they are young, and then teach them how to behave properly in more adult environments when they are ready. Teach them respect, "inside voices," politeness, and to use kleenex instead of a finger.

1 comment:

HangerMom said...

Ha! I love your story and your comments on teaching our kids appropriately as they get old enough to be taught. I had a seperate issue with the article, but I agree that it's funny how much debate there is over this issue. I find it hard to believe any mom thinks it's a great idea to take a toddler to somewhere where adults are trying to do adult things. I find that way more stress than it's worth, and so we stick to age appropriate restaurants, outings, etc.