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.