Not Exactly The Zoo

I'm often inspired by Julie with great ideas for posts, which I promptly forget for weeks and then can't find the specific link and then just let it go. However, everything at Julie's is worth reading (she mentioned that she "polishes" her pieces which explains it, instead of just tossing them into the air like I do). So, if you're REALLY interested you can go search Julie's site yourself. At best, you might find the correct post. At worst, you'll find lots of nifty posts that will enrich your life. Either way, I don't want to hear about me being a lazy-linker. I already know that.

Recently-ish, she talked about the fact that cities are becoming less family-friendly. Which dove-tails nicely with my experience in the city a few months ago.

It happened to be Cassie's birthday, and my husband had to make a business-trip. We tried to make the day special for Cassie, off to a good start with the gifts and cake and pink-donuts at breakfast. Then we drove my husband into the city to the airport. Its a long drive, about two hours.

By the time he was abandoned curb-side, it was getting close to lunch time. Now, our particular city is not reknowned for having tons of great restaurants in great locations. Its like the city-planners were anorexics. (Ok, so thats probably not politically correct. I don't want hate mail from anorexics. Some of my best-friends are anorexics. Seriously.)

Anyway, I had decided that I would stop at a place on the way home with great dessert to make the day a little more festive for the kids. The best I could do was RubyTuesdays. They have something called a StrawberryTallCake. Basically, a reasonably good strawberry-shortcake served in a ridiculously huge fish-bowl-wine-glass. Approximately the size of a three-year-old's head. And Cassie LOVES strawberries.

We arrived at the restaurent door, the four of us: Me (adult), Ron (age 7), Lee (age 5), Cassie (barely age 3). The seater looked frantically over my shoulder. "Five?". "No, just four. And we'd like to use the rest-room before we're seated. We'll be right back." The seater managed to keep his eyes from rolling up in his head.

When we were seated, the waitress looked at us with what can only be described as horror. Real terror. Like she needed back-up. I ordered a burger and salad-bar, Ron ordered an adult entree, Lee and Cassie ordered extra-large fries. The food arrived super-quickly. She brought the ticket. I pointed out gently that we'd be needing dessert. She flinched. I ordered each of the children a TallCake (which they also offer in chocolate). Servers started to cluster and point at our table. Other diners noticed. Afterall, we were the only children in the restaurant. An entire table full of children, loosely supervised by one very calm relaxed adult.

There's the irony. We weren't exactly acting like wild monkeys at the zoo. Rather, my children were INCREDIBLY well-behaved. They ate calmly, because thats what you do. They said please-and-thankyou, because thats what you do. They used indoor-voices, because thats what you do. They conversed pleasently and cheerfully, because thats what you do. (Note: sometimes they can be absolute hellions, but not usually in public)

People were actually staring in amazement because my children were behaving. They seemed to honestly expect all children to be throwing food and running loops around the table while squealing like monkeys!

What a sad commentary on our society that children behaving politely stuns people. I started thinking about the way the media portrays children and parents. Many times the kids are smart-alecs (at best) and the parents are idiots. Its pervasive. Not just in the programming for adults, but also in the programming for children.

My pet peeve is the bizarre parenting demonstrated on Caillou (not to mention the bizarre spelling, pronounced Kie-you). His tantrums are effective. His every whine is transformed into his every whim, and there's a LOT of whining. His every naughtiness a charming "awwwwwwww, isn't he cute". But at least Caillou's parents are portrayed as smart (though obviously ineffective parents).

Most shows, and commercials, hold up one or more parents as the objects of ridicule who wield NO authority at all. Perhaps its the natural outcome of a daycare-society. Yes, I understand most people need daycare and that there are good daycares. No, I'm not advocating the abolition of all daycares in some violent throwback to the fifties. But its foolish to ignore the psychological consequences. Some parents deal with it better than others.

For example, I'm under the impression that Sheilah's girls are in daycare when she's employed which is usually the case. (Hi, Sheilah! Sorry my comments are still broken :) However, unlike most parents, Sheilah (and her husband) seem to spend a lot of face-time with their girls at night and on the weekend. A lot of parents I know spend maybe an hour-per-day with their kids, if that. I'm continually shocked by the sheer number of kids at Awana's on Wednesday nights that don't see a parent the entire day until 8:30pm. Imagine. An entire day without parents. An authority-figure is someone thats in charge, in control. When are those parents authority-figures? While the children are asleep?

Its sad that my children behaving in a polite civilized manner caused a stir in the restaurant. Its sad that those wild children are going to grow up with no parenting skills. Its sad that many adults think thats acceptable.

Make Waves

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