Monday, March 28, 2005

Attention Shoppers! The Attack of the Evil Kids

This is a vent. You have been warned.

I have long wanted to write a post about kids in public places.

Yeah, I know, I’m not being original. I mean, how many posts do you see in the blogosphere every week that start with, “so today, I was at Wal-Mart, and there were these really rambunctious kids, yada yada yada… and I just glared at their mother and wondered how hard it is to be a decent parent…” (Disclaimer - this post does not refer to any actual bloggers or their posts, any similarity to an existing Wal-Mart is strictly coincidental).

I beg to differ. I believe in age-appropriate behavior. A 3-year-old cannot behave like a 30-year-old, no matter how much time you spend teaching him good manners. Personally, I do all the grocery shopping for my family (because I like it that way), and I cannot even recall any rambunctious kids on my several-times-a-week shopping trips. Either my state has the best-mannered children, or I just don’t care what other people’s kids do, unless they cuss loudly, throw things, or get into my shopping cart. I don’t remember what mine did when they were young – mostly, I think, they sat in the cart. I do remember taking them to a Russian grocery store with me when they were 2 and 5 years old. We went there about once a week. It was a small store and there were no carts available, and the lines were pretty long. I remember that the 2yo always wanted to touch everything on the shelves (then again, being a 2yo, he always wanted to touch everything he saw), and the 5yo’s job was to keep him from doing it, while I stood in the line. Most of the time, they did fairly well as far as I can recall. The staff and the customers took it in good humor.

And let’s keep in mind that the kids didn’t exactly ask to be taken to this grocery store in the first place. They are bored to death, they don’t want to be there, and they don’t really have to be there. And most of them just had a rough and exhausting day in the daycare center. With that in mind, I tend to give them a break. I also suspect that “rambunctious kids at Wal-Mart” is failproof post material – say, when you cannot think of anything else to post, - but what do I know about the blogosphere, I’m a newbie, remember?

Guys. Seriously. You don’t know these kids. You don’t know these parents. You don’t know what kind of day they had. And, nine cases out of ten, IMO, you’re overreacting.

Speaking of overreacting. What triggered this post was a comment left on The Zero Boss, by someone named Emily who is a great supporter of the Pearls parenting methods (I should be easy on poor Emily, seeing as Jay has already given her a hard time):

Spanking was "out." "Gentle parenting" was in. The result? Just look at the
grocery stores, the schools, the newspapers (i.e. Columbine)...

Yep. The grocery stores and Columbine. Can you find ten differences between the two? Good for you, because Emily can’t. Apparently, if a small kid misbehaves at a grocery store, then, in all likelihood, he’ll grow up and shoot up his school. Yeah right!

And don’t get me started on kids in restaurants… babies and toddlers that have to sit still for hours just so their parents can enjoy the fine cuisine… this is my pet peeve that I will save for a later post. And if they don’t sit still, be sure you’ll read about it in the blogosphere (“so yesterday, I went to this restaurant…”)

Yes, life is hard and babysitting is scarce. Sometimes the kids have to tag along with us, wherever we go. It’s hard work for them. Give them a break. If they are not your kids, then give the parents a break too. They deserve it. If they are your kids, then plan a few activities for them so they don’t get bored, or prepare to face the consequences. Remember, these kids enjoy sitting in a grocery cart or in the restaurant just as much as you enjoy sitting in a two-hour staff meeting. They are there for our convenience. It’s not like we’re doing them a favor.

I hope our kids don’t learn from us. Otherwise, forty years from now, we’ll be reading posts like: “So yesterday, I went to this nursing home and this old lady was completely out of control, losing her memory all over the place… gee, what were her kids thinking? It’s not that hard to train up a parent, you know!”

The Goldie has spoken at 5:23 PM

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