Sunday, May 11, 2008

It takes a village to raise a child

I agree with this saying. Up to a point.

I agree with it in that I believe in publicly funded education, recreation centres, and I would love to see a national daycare plan. As in, our 'village' should be child friendly. I don't like to see 'adults only' complexes. I think when we cut ourselves off from kids even if we don't have them ourselves, that it is a loss to all of us. I also feel this way about our society shoving the elderly out of site.

I'll even go so far as to tolerate temper tantrums when they can't be avoided. I do think parents are entitled to a life beyond Chuck E Cheese and children need to learn how to behave in social settings.

For my mother's birthday one year, we all went to the restaurant in the Park Hyatt [high-end Toronto hotel] for lunch. We chose that locale because my two and a half year-old niece was coming and we figured that hotels are used to families, lunch is less stressful, and in a hotel when a kid gets restless, one of the adults can get up and walk around the lobby with the kid, unlike a stand-alone restaurant where you and every other diner are trapped. Even then, at one point my niece started banging her plate with her cutlery and her mum leaned over and quietly said, "Stop that right now or we'll leave". My niece stopped. She pouted for a minute, but she didn't go back to banging her plate.

I know some people will think that we shouldn't have brought a child to a high-end hotel at all. Also, we knew that we wouldn't have our own leisurely lunch. From time to time each of us got up from the table and walked with my niece up and down the hotel corridor to the lobby, but at least we made sure that no one else in that restaurant had their meal disturbed. The other people in the restaurant were able to enjoy the leisurely lunches they had planned.

So back to the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child". To me that although I would like to see a more child tolerant society, it doesn't mean that strangers should have to raise your child for you. [Radmila had a blog post on this topic that discussed a recent newspaper article about just the kind of parent who I think gives parents a bad name]. These parents don't seem to understand that the saying 'it takes a village to raise a child' doesn't mean that the parent doesn't have to supervise their own kid. Furthermore, that saying only works when the whole village has the same idea about child rules.

One of my pet peeves is when people think it's fine to let a child run amok in a restaurant. This is why I gave the story of my niece and why I blogged about a year ago about an incident where parents made their son go up and apologize to me for having screamed 'boo' at me while I was eating. [I was so impressed with them. I mean, stuff happens, kids are unpredictable... but they took appropriate action]

One standard that I think our society -yes! our VILLAGE! - agrees on is that wait staff should not have to watch out for uncontrolled toddlers as they carry food to customers.

So if you are a parent who feels that it's fine to allow your child to roam freely through a restaurant, please understand that if your child comes near my table, that as part of your village I will feel perfectly justified in telling your child that a restaurant is not a playground and returning them to your table. Ditto when your child is kicking my seat in a movie theatre and you are doing nothing I will also turn around and tell them that that is unacceptable. I've done it to adults.

Suddenly this whole village thing is becoming appealing to me.


Radmila said...

LOL...your last paragraph reminded me of my brother in law.
We went to a chinese buffet (the big one) where there was a waterfall in one of the dining areas. One large family allowed their collective children run through the restaurant full tilt terrorizing customers with their game of tag between tables.
They were constantly running around our table because we were seated next to the waterfall and they would touch or climb the railing and then run around us.
My brother in law had had just about enough, and stopped one of the kids and said: "Sit your ass down at your table. I don't want to see you around mine again!" through clenched teeth.
They didn't come around us again...and I know if any of their adult family members had have challenged my brother in law, they would have gotten a loud earful on parenting.
My young nieces are NOT allowed to leave the table unattended in a restaurant, much less play tag in one.

HotDudi said...

TAG!! ;-)

tornwordo said...

I once watched as a child went from table to table grabbing french fries from people's plates while the parents looked on "charmed". Unfrigginbelievable.

Snooze said...

Radmila: I *heart* your brother in law. And I have seen similar at chinese buffets. Why do people think that buffets mean you don't need any sense of decorum?

Hotdudi: Will do!

Tornwordo: Oh man, that is unreal. I can't imagine how I would react.

Heidenschneckenbaum said...

I consider myself VERY tolerant of kids and I love them all to death. However, I HATE it when I'm at the grocery store and they're running around my cart while the mother (or father) stands there chit chatting with someone. And I get viciously pissed when I look at the parent and they SEE ME and still don't do anything. It makes me want to ram the kid AND the parent with my cart and tell them to learn some manners.

Snooze said...

Yes exactly. If a kid up and runs and the parent at least tells the kid to stop, I have sympathy. When the kids act like the supermarket is a playground I want to yell at the parents.

katrocket said...

This is a great post Snooze, and so is Radmila's! I've blogged some mighty angry stuff about bratty kids/bad parents in public, but I like kids and I always enjoy "my turn" at occupying them during social gatherings.

The Chinese buffet conversation is hilarious to me - my rambunctious neice and nephew (ages 4 and 6) LOVE the Chinese buffet more than anything, and that's the one place on Earth where they are on their best angelic behaviour at all times, for fear they won't be able to return ever again if they misbehave.

Snooze said...

Kat: Obviously your niece and nephew have been told what appropriate behaviour is and that if it isn't followed they won't be back. That's awesome parenting!