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September 18, 2007

The most surprising observation of parenting

It's interesting how society characterizes its younger members as "forward thinking", liberal, embracing diversity, etc. While it is sometimes the case, more often, it is the experience and intermittent tragedies experienced with age that brings tolerance. When it comes to a simple thing like dining out, I notice it. We only eat at casual (and loud) restaurants, e.g. Columbus Fish Market.

Several years ago, we went to Haiku (a big risk) at about 5:30 pm (pretty darn early for dinner, certainly before the cool hipsters eat) with another couple. Our kids at the time were about 2 years old and, surprisingly, well-behaved that night. Every group of young people entering the restaurant would be met by the host. The host would show them to a table near us. Then, one in the party would whisper secretly to the host. I suspect they expressed their desire to sit as far from us as possible, since they would usually sit down as far from us as the room would allow. Maybe I'm just paranoid.

We do everything to prevent a bad experience for diners near us and sometimes have to leave if the kid gets too loud. I think we're considerate.

Another time on a flight, an older gentleman reclined his seat such that his head was inches from Frankie. It happened to be the only flight ever she was loud. He slept through it. When the flight was over, I apologized to him. He just shrugged it off and smiled.

Tantrums are frequently observed in Target when a flustered Mom is trying to pay for goods and maintain order among several little ones. Parents look on with empathy. Many just roll their eyes. While at OSU's athletic center, Frankie had a tantrum in the middle of one of the aerobic machine areas. I just stood over her waiting for it to end casually watching the videos while a horrified, busily-cycling crowd looked at me with disapproval. I think they just turned up their Ipods.

Society is a collection of age, culture, gender and ethnicity. The least tolerant, most likely to look upon difference with disdain are often the youngest and most self-absorbed.


Betty said...

Many parents are not considerate of others when dining out with young children. It only takes a few bad experiences to want to make efforts to avoid having a childless dining experience ruined. Anyone who has been a parent knows there is no way to predict or guarantee that a child will behave in a way as to not spoil others' experiences.
Don't take it personally :)

Dave said...

Don't take it personally :)

If I could ever get that one, I'd be MUCH healthier in so many ways.

Anonymous said...

How do you explain a 50 year old manager who has the sensitivity of a 12 year old? I think some people are just self absorbed throughout their lives, regardless of their ages. I also think a vast majority of them are not parents. Being a parent forces you to look outside yourself in a way very few others things do.

Anonymous said...

I was at a mall in Ottawa once with a male friend and his then 2-year-old son, who threw a huge tantrum in the middle of the mall.

All these elderly French-Canadian women were glaring at me and clucking their tongues, since I was obviously a terrible neglectful mother letting my kid go nuts like that in the middle of the mall.

That was awkward and uncomfortable on several different levels...

Dave said...

Hi Denise, I think you're right. Age might often be independent of behavior.

Hey Sarah, Even though you can sometimes sit through the tantrum, it's never easy (for me anyway).

Anonymous said...

This is why I'm nervous about taking Frankie to France. The thought that everyone would think her "mal elevee" gives me chills. But what can ya do?

Dave said...

All they can do is kick us out in the street. And, she'd sit still for a Croque Monsieur and frittes (I'd hope).

dusio said...

I couldn't agree with you more.

My favorite is the childless 20-somethings who say, "my child will never act like that."
Yeah, right.
Of course they will, you did, I did, it's called being a kid.
My kids are great in public 95% of the time, but occasionally, something happens. I agree sitting through a tantrum is hard, but it's only made more difficult by the condescending glares of others.

Dave said...

"Of course they will, you did, I did, it's called being a kid."

Exactly. Of course, my mother just reminded me of my antics the other day. She's 74 and remembered them like it was yesterday. It's amazing how we torture our parents.