Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Is "No Kids" the New "No Smoking"

Now that smokers have been safely sequestered to their own balconies, backyards, and automobiles, what is the next social ill our society will battle?

Surprisingly, it's not the jerks addicted to their Blackberries and their Bluetooth Earsets, ignoring present company while talking loudly into the ether.

No, it's the kids that have to go.

According to a recent rant on CNN entitled, Excerpt: Parents, Your Children Aren't that Special, kids these days are so undisciplined and unruly, they shouldn't be allowed out of the house. Unless, of course, curmudgeonly author Jack Cafferty's own semi-abusive father puts the fear of a stiff belt into your kid. Then certainly, they will be silent, terrified, and allowed to lurk near decent people.... You know, the people ignoring their dinner dates while twittering away on their iPhones.

It is not his call for discipline that I object to, though I suspect we differ in our methods. It is his, and increasingly everyone's, intolerance for children in any public setting.

I'm not taking my girls to 5 star restaurants, night clubs, or contemplative museums. No, its my favorite neighborhood Greek place that is now "take out only" for us. Even when Maya was dining quietly, everyone from the wait staff to the grandmotherly ladies lunching at the next table let loose an audible sigh and an eye roll when we sat down.

Even in the St. Paul skyway, as we traveled to the renowned Minnesota Children's Museum, we got disgusted looks and the occasional comment from nearly everyone that passed by our admittedly cumbersome double stroller. Should I disguise them in a catering trolly next time, to keep those around me calm? No, no, it's not a child (eeew), it's just D'Amico catering....

It wasn't my children or their discipline that was a problem in the skyway. I once pulled Maya out of a Target because of her excessive whining; and I've never had to do that again. The mere suggestion is enough to prevent a meltdown.

No, in the skyway, Elliot was totally quiet, and Maya was busy asking charming questions about the businesses we passed and where our friend's baby David was playing.

Sadly, it wasn't their behavior but their mere existence that angered the people around us. Children in restaurants, with high chairs that narrow the walkways. Children on airplanes, fidgeting and bored. Lately, even children in parks, walking too slowly for joggers and bikers, who incidentally, are talking on their cell phones.

Regardless of the behavior of my children in these situations, in fact, even when my girls are being pretty enjoyable companions, the adults are annoyed and often outwardly rude.

It is their existence that everyone is objecting to. Many don't even bother to deny it.

Maybe these child haters don't understand that well-behaved adults don't spring fully formed from the delivery room simply because their parents sign a "3 Strikes and I'll spank you" Discipline Doctrine. Or maybe they aren't aware that keeping kids in a kennel until they're past "that annoying age" (which for some can stretch past 25), is illegal.

Kids learn positive social behavior through good parenting, of course. Discipline is part of that;. But they also learn through kindness, mimicry, and practice. If we shut them away until they are 18, they might still emerge in their first restaurant throwing mashed potatoes on the nearest waitress (to be clear, my kids have never done this).

In a world where people feel entitled to grimace and be obnoxious at the mere appearance of children in a public place in the middle of the day, I am afraid to bring my children out in public.

If I do, will they learn to mimic the eye rolls, snorts of disgust, and general rudeness that all of these so-called sophisticated adults shower on them? Between texts and twitters of course.

Next time I take them out, maybe I'll drape them in shirts and flare that reads, "Future Taxpayer," so their financial value is readily apparent. Or maybe something that says, "Be nice to me, I may be your heart surgeon some day."

Or for the sake of my girls, maybe I will keep them at home and in the backyard where they'll get not only discipline, but kindness, and a little leeway as they learn the rules of common decency.


Anonymous said...

Sarah, I aplaud you and am so in agreement! You should send that to the Tribune or whatever the paper is locally. Love, Carol

Anonymous said...

Sarah, the really sad part is that the majority of parents have not raised their children to be polite and respectful in public. You are right that it does not take coporal punishment, but it does take consistant, firm, understanding guidance. The children that have been shown how to behave, not only in public but at home are paying the price for the kids that have lazy inattentive parents. It isn't just this generation either. I can promise you, when you guys were kids, it was bad, and now those same rude people are parents. Don't stop taking your girls out. Their manners and intelligence will be proof that there is hope for the next generation. Aunt Nina

Sarah said...

Do I have the best aunts, or what? :)

I would love to say they aren't talking about my kids, but the whole point of the guy's article was that he is talking to all parents.

And I've gotten as many rude comments when my kids are actually being really delightful as when they're having a bad day... which even the best ones do. Um... and even the best adults.

I just thought one good rant deserved another!


Search This Blog