Wednesday, April 7, 2010

KEEP YOUR CHILDREN TO YOURSELF

We love children. We were once children. But back in the day, children had their place and it wasn’t walking all over seats on buses, trains or furniture. You crawled, hung out in your play pen (Do they still make those?) or sat on your parents’ laps. And you certainly didn’t have the privilege of sitting in a seat while a grownup stood. Caregivers or nannies (Whatever happened to The Babysitter?) - the title seems to change according to the neighborhood - when offered a seat will let the little one sit down instead of putting the kid on her lap. No wonder so many teenagers and adults won’t give their seats up to elders – they’re confused, they’ve been sitting ever since they were children, it’s their right. Why grownups used get up so they could sit, even their caregivers would stand while they sat!

Vestibules and hallways have been turned into mudrooms – tiny boots and high tech strollers are stationed sometimes in front of fire doors. Parents must think that fires happen to other people, not where they and their children live.

One morning, on a bus, a child was playing ‘dip mommy’s Metro card into the fare collector machine’. The bus driver told the woman that the reason people were on the express bus was to get to their destinations sooner and her child was slowing down the ride. The mother glared back at her with an expression that yelled, “How dare you not let my child have an impromptu play date with the fare machine!”

Recently, there was a brilliant piece in the New York Times. It was a Complaint Box essay about loud talking parents teaching their children right from wrong and other important life lessons that everyone in the area had to hear. We know that there’s such a thing as an outside voice but in this case it’s more like ‘outsized voice’. When people become parents and we know it’s not easy, is it a given that etiquette is put on hold until their children reach puberty?

We’re sounding kind of cranky today. Maybe we’re sleepy. That’s the excuse our parents used to give when we weren’t being very nice. Nap time.

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10 comments:

Divamom-Act II said...

Love Love Love this.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Great article! I keep forgetting to tell you how much I love the pix of you
and your sister in the tiaras! Love it!

Monte Mathews said...

I don't think anything in New York is more enfuriating than kids getting first dibs on public transportation. When I grew up, we never got seated if there was a single adult standing. And since when did sitting on someone's lap become illegal? But the story about the MetroCard caps them all!

Anonymous said...

love it! thank you.

i missed the loudmouthed life-lesson cringemonger piece in the times.
too bad.
those idiots get on my nerves too.
you know, aude has had her kids in a few times
and they are terrific.
she is soft-spoken and discreet with them,
even when chastising or correcting them.
none of that show-offy 'look what a great parent i am' stuff, naturally.
once again, europeans are showing us up in the manners department.

by the way,
we've always had a babysitter
(who became a 'sitter' when anna asked for the 'baby' part to be retired).
evelyne, in fact, preferred that nomenclature
because she found the 'hoity-toity' uptown 'nanny' title so pretentious.

and my children ALWAYS get up for an adult.

Anonymous said...

So here I am at an intense day facing my computer screen and have just shut down for a ride down to the boardwalk (I am 12 minutes from the awe-inspiring beach). I love travelling with a good read so have been mulling about for 30-seconds trying to figure out what can I take that will be refreshing. Ahh, yes, your send today.

Me and "other people's kids"are headed out now. (Smile)

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid we are losing the battle. And now with fertility drugs there's usually a twin trouble maker. Recently I heard a mother say to a two year old "now you are going to have to understand that this current behavior of yours will have consequences you will deeply regret". The kid hit her in the face! XXX

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid we are losing the battle. And now with fertility drugs there's usually a twin trouble maker. Recently I heard a mother say to a two year old "now you are going to have to understand that this current behavior of yours will have consequences you will deeply regret". The kid hit her in the face! XXX

scout said...

I have kids and couldn't agree with you more. I rarely took mine out in public for the very reasons you hate them being out.

Aviva said...

I'm almost afraid to venture in here, although I'm loving your blog. I don't live in NYC, so I'm not dealing with public transit on a daily basis with my 5-year-old. And I can't imagine why a parent or caregiver or whatever wouldn't take a seat and put the kid on their lap.

But in my rare experiences on public transit with a preschooler, I've noticed that buses/trains/whatever weren't well designed for kids to ride standing up. For one thing, there's often no place within their limited reach that they can hold on to keep their balance (which is tricky even on non-moving vehicles when you're under 5), except the floor to ceiling poles which are located most often near the doors. And that's a place you really don't want your kid standing because they're likely to wander off either because they're carried away in the flood of people exiting or because hey, the door opened, it must be time to get off. (That happens with my kid on elevators all the time...)

I try to be a good citizen and a good mom at the same time. If my kid is disruptive in public, we leave. If my kid is misbehaving in public, we leave. I have to admit I'm not sure how I'd have dealt with a 2-year-old in a meltdown on the NYC subway ...

But one of the ways we teach our kids how to behave in public is by taking them out in public. How's a kid to learn to keep their voice down in a library or museum if they've never been reprimanded or pulled out for being too noisy?

(I did cringe at the anecdote about the kid playing with the farecard when boarding with his mom. I can totally imagine letting my kid try to swipe a farecard, but if she started playing with it, she'd be *done*. Without the driver having to comment.)

I do really like and admire your blog. I hope you'll forgive my intrusion ...

Miss H said...

Great segment. Jeez, you and Yvette never age. Are there twin portraits of you too in a closet somewhere, getting older while you stay young?