Tuesday, April 7, 2009

We're raising human beings, not the next Shirley Temple

I have a pet peeve, and I might get tomatoes thrown at me for this one, but here goes: I can't stand loud, ill-behaved children in restaurants and cafes. I'm sorry, but if your child can't sit down for more than two minutes before having to climb on furniture, pull table-cloths and run around, knocking waiters over, than I don't see why they should have to be submitted to a place where common etiquette expects people to behave in a certain manner. That is unless, of course, you'd think it would be OK to actually tell your child that: "No, sit down, please. Use an inside voice and don't eat with your fingers."
Because, guess what: it is OK to show your child that what might be OK at home is certainly not OK anywhere else.

It's the thing about rules and raising children. Different families, different rules, and all that, I really couldn't care less what you do at home, but I really do think it is important to show our children that outside the home, in the big world that is out there, certain behaviors are less OK than others. And it is OK to tell our children that. It won't scar them for life. It won't harm them and it won't come back and haunt them at the psycho-therapists office years later. It is OK to set behavioral boundaries for our children. We will do them a favor in the long run because they will not grow up spoilt and self-centered and without friends. We will also do the people around us a favor too, since being around kids with tantrums is one of the worst thing there is. (Believe me, my youngest is no exception to this rule, and when he is starting to throw an absolute wobbly, I pack up and leave. No excuses.)

So today, as me and Kate, my eldest, are enjoying our macaroons, apple juice and jasmine tea, there is a party of five, two mothers and three kids next to us and chaos sets in only five minutes after they enter. The kids are tired, cranky and generally not very happy. They whine. They cry. They nag. They throw tantrums when they don't get what they want (and what they want are the good pastries, not the boring oatmeal cookies, I mean, good lord, why take your kid to a french bakery if you don't want them to have the good stuff?). They crawl on the benches and under the table, they knock stuff own and spill a whole glass of water on the floor. They run to and from the bathroom bumping in to other customers. The noise level is excruciating.
And all the while the two mothers keep stiff smiles and nice voices saying things like:
- Oh, dear. That's OK.
- Do you need the bathroom again? OK.
- Maybe if you sit up, you won't spill your drink again.

It's tiring.
Two things: if kids are too tired, don't push it. Take them to a playground instead.
But if they need to be in an environment with other adults than their parents, they need to understand that it is not OK to rip the place apart. If you can't fight the battle, don't join it.

Maybe I sound like a cold-hearted b*** now, I know, but I don't tolerate it when my own children to behave like that, so don't enjoy it much from other children either.


  1. no, not cold hearted. just a little snobby. but that's ok with me if it's ok with you.

  2. On this issue, snobby is OK with me.