Not MY Child!
Not all children are angels in public.
We’ve all seen them; children whose parents have the ability to tune out while their children are misbehaving.
Honestly, misbehaving is a mild word for kids running through a restaurant, knocking over chairs and bumping into tables, sending plates flying. Yet their parents keep on eating as if nothing is going on. The funny thing is, if you point out their miscreants’ behavior, you’re nasty or hate kids.
And why is it that they’re almost always out in restaurants or in movie theaters when we’re trying to have a nice evening?
Years ago, Matt and I went to a theater and the family behind us had brought all five of their manner-impaired imps. We knew it was going to be a difficult evening right off the bat. I’m guessing that the parents wanted to keep them busy, and to accomplish that goal, bought every candy bar known to human kind. The constant rustle of candy bars being opened made it difficult to hear anything going on in the movie. Unfortunately, the theater was full, so we had little choice but to stay put.
If the goal was to keep them quiet by feeding them, it didn’t work. The kids proved that they were quite accomplished at talking with their mouths full. In record time, we knew that little Scotty needed to go number two and that his sister, Lisa, was a dummy head.
Soon, I’m guessing due to all the sugar in their little systems, their limbs began to flail unchecked. The back of my seat was being kicked with annoying regularity. Of course, when we’d turn around and ask them to please stop kicking, the parents glared at us. The mom made a lame attempt to stop it by saying something trite like “the lady wants you to knock it off,” then turned her attention back to the movie. The children, correctly, knew that she wasn’t going to do anything about it and the kicking began with renewed fervor.
Finally, Matt had had it. He unfolded his 6’2” frame from the seat, stood up and turned around. The children’s eyes turned into saucers at the sight of the large man before them. Matt rumbled that if their feet made contact with the back of our chairs just one more time, he was going to stick them in a most uncomfortable spot.
This sent the mom to the lobby to complain about the mean man who threatened her little angels. The manager came out, and when we asked if he was there to remove the loud family, the surrounding patrons erupted into applause. This annoyed the horrible family, whose much smaller husband got up and made a show of threatening to beat Matt up. At long last, the family was asked to leave. As for us, we were given free tickets to another movie, as we had no idea what had transpired since the beginning of the show.
Oh, and what was the movie these thoughtful parents brought their young children to see? “Children of the Corn.” I’m guessing they wanted to introduce the kids to the rest of the family.
The thing is, people who have problem children rarely know it. Once, I was planning a field trip for a group. I wanted to charter a bus to visit the Baltimore Aquarium, spend time at the harbor, and come home later that evening.
However, Matt and I had gone on a bus trip before, where children were running up and down the aisles while their parents paid no attention, blissfully staring out the window. He insisted that if I wanted him to come along, we set an age limit for the bus ride.
A group of ladies and I met to discuss the upcoming trip at a grocery store café. I dreaded breaking the news of the age limit, because one of the most ill- behaved child’s mothers was there. She remarked that it was a shame that some parents let their kids run around and do whatever they liked. She said, and I quote, “It’s those types of parents that ruin it for people like me.”
That’s when I mentioned to her that her son was in the midst of adding another wing to the fort he’d built out of soda cans while we were chatting.
The thing is, we’re all guilty to one extent or another when it comes to thinking our children are angels. To us, they always will be. No matter how many times we’ve struggled with temper tantrums and argued that the word “share” is actually a verb and not a concept to be debated, we love them and think they’re wonderful.
We’ve taken care of them, comforted them when they had a rough day at school. And when bad dreams invaded their sleep, they’d come bearing their blankies and teddy bears, wanting to sleep in mom and dad’s room. We’ve held them when they cried after a loved one or a pet passed away; trying to explain the finality of death, as we struggle to make sense of it ourselves.
Inevitably, the time comes all too quickly when they know that a thunderstorm is just that and not God and the angels engaged in a bowling tournament.
One of the hardest things for a parent to do is recognize their children’s faults. It’s perfectly natural that we can tune them out. Moms are particularly good at that. But tune them out at your own peril while you’re out with them. After all, you don’t want to be one of those people who can sit at an ice cream store while your child has locked his sister in the dairy case.
The truth of the matter is sometimes, it is your child.