Category: Kids


Not Less Human

Tonight, after what felt like a very long day, I stopped for some groceries. On my way out of the store I passed their little Starbucks café and saw a woman with two small children. She turned to one of them and, in an exceptionally bitchy tone, said, “I thought I was being nice to you but apparently you don’t think I’m being nice.” I had to fight the urge to tell her that, to anyone with ears, it was apparent she was not being nice.

I’m sure that someone is going to get all bent out of shape over me judging this woman on one sentence, so allow me to explain further. It was nearly 7pm, a time when most children that age would be having dinner, not Starbucks. And the only one who seemed to be making anything remotely resembling a scene was the woman herself. Some of you may also argue that the kids could have been misbehaving before I walked by; that’s true.

Here are a few more things that are true:

As adults, we are responsible for how we react to things; we are responsible for the things we feel. We are also responsible for the feelings of our children. It is not their job to make sure that we don’t get our feelings hurt; it is our job to protect their feelings. We should not make children feel guilty when we don’t get what we want from them. Children are new. They don’t comprehend all the nuances of human interaction. It is our duty to teach them and to make sure that, by the time they are adults, they understand the rules and they behave with kindness and respect.

So be nice when you talk to children. Listen to what they have to say and treat them like the new, tiny humans that they are. They’re not less than you, they’re just smaller.

 

 

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The Things We Miss

A bonus post for this week:

I wrote this on December 9, 2009 and posted it elsewhere; it really belongs here.

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The Things We Miss

Driving back to work from lunch I saw two little girls waiting to cross the street. I stopped my car and waved them across. The weather was brutal- cold thick sleet- and it seemed unkind to make them wait for me. The smaller one was holding a plastic shopping bag that hung heavily but occasionally caught the breeze like a most inconvenient windsock and her small gloved hands fought to keep hold of it. The taller girl was clutching a dollhouse to her chest; hugging it tightly as if it were her most precious possession. They were out braving this nasty winter weather for the chance to create their own small world this afternoon. To me, these two little girls looked like the last refugees of childhood– a childhood where kids actually played with toys and used their imaginations.

Those of us who grew up before video games and cable TV replaced actual playing (or, in my case, too poor to afford such things) have a different sort of nostalgia about children who play. There is something sweet and theatrical and innocent about it. It reminds us that the imagination really is unlimited- a fact we often forget when we’re older. We see kids frolicking in a seemingly unending fountain of energy and we wonder where they found it because we get worn out just going to work and coming home every day.

I was never very good at playing. In my family, there is a rather infamous story of me playing dolls with my sister and telling her, “No! She doesn’t say that! She says THIS!”. I was probably 4 or 5 and I was already imposing limits on my sister’s imagination. I liked to color inside the lines in the coloring books and I always tried to make sure my letters faced the right way when I wrote things. I never knew how to be a kid very well when I was one and now I feel like I missed out.

This is just my reminder, a plea really, to all of you who are parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Always encourage children to play. If they want to sit at dinner and carry on a conversation between their fork and their slice of bread, listen. If they want you to be the evil Hawk Man so they can be the hero and attack you, be Hawk Man. The laundry and the dishes and those papers and that expense report can all wait; kids can’t.

You’ll blink and they’ll be thirty.

After all, isn’t that what happened to us?

Bars & CARS

Last night Jac and I decided to take a friend, Jon, out for dinner. We chose a local bar that has $2 happy hour drink specials until 6pm and woodfired pizzas for $5 because all of us are pinching pennies these days. This place, though possibly considered by some to be a restaurant, is most definitely a bar. There is a pool room, people smoke like chimneys, and the open kitchen/bar itself is the central architectural feature.

We were just sitting and enjoying our drinks when I noticed that a couple had arrived with five children in tow. The kids appeared to range in age from approximately 6-8 years. There were four boys and one girl. The woman was holding a bundle of birthday balloons and a bakery box presumably containing a birthday cake. At that point I began thinking how horrible and irresponsible it was of them to bring their kids to a bar for what I figured must be an adult birthday party. The wait staff began shuffling tables around and the woman pulled out a birthday tablecloth — with a Disney/Pixar CARS theme.

What the hell?!

It was bad enough when I thought they had dragged the kids along to a party for adults, but to actually be hosting a party in a bar for anyone who requires a cartoon-themed tablecloth borders on unforgivable.

As expected, the bored children quickly began running laps around the tables, popping in and out of the curtains behind our seating area and yelling at each other across the room. Then more children arrived…and more.

Eventually the birthday boy showed up. In fairness, he appeared to be about 14 or 15 so perhaps the party wasn’t as inappropriate as I had originally thought, but it still seemed ill placed and poorly executed.

I generally like kids–especially under the age of 6 before our pathetic public education system begins to warp their little minds. I think they should be allowed to be kids and to play, run, sing, dance, scream, use their imaginations and even throw the occasional fit (just because we all wish we could sometimes). So, I was sitting there wondering what kind of parents have the misguided idea of a kids’ party in a bar. I was trying to figure out how their kids will function around other kids if they are exposed to adult social habitats. Just then,  one of the 7-year-old looking boys popped up from underneath the table next to ours and yelled, “Wham! Bam! Thank you ma’am!”.

Yeah…

Don’t throw birthday parties for guests of honor under 21 at a bar.

And leave the munchkins at home.