I have been reading so much lately about children ‘misbehaving’ in restaurants and supermarkets and how they need to be ‘tamed’. Tamed? Really? What are they? Performing monkeys? Seriously, what will you have them do next? Jumps through the hoops? Or learn to heel ? Because that’s what tamed means to me! And somehow, correct me if I’m wrong, but somehow, I really don’t think that that is what most parents dream of for their children!
Now, I’m not a parent. Not yet anyway. Nor am I some award winning child psychologist. But it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that what you think is a relaxing evening out at the city’s poshest restaurant is really something that bores the hell out of your child! A child needs active stimuli to keep him/her engaged, and all that grown up talk about what Chidambaram said about the devaluation of the rupee or whether Romney or Obama is going to win the election just doesn’t cut it for a child. Shocking, I know! But lets face it, even I fall asleep half the time during such discussions, so can you really blame the child for trying bang the plate with a spoon in order to entertain himself/herself? Hey, I totally would do so myself, if only i had the courage and don’t care attitude that a child does!
I remember, in fact, one incident from my own childhood. We were at a fancy restaurant. Dinner was over and they had brought out the finger bowls. Now, I was in a ‘naughty’ mood. And I was bored. So I finished washing my hands, picked up a tissue, wiped my hands with it and proceeded to attempt dissolving the tissue in the finger bowl. And guess what? No one, repeat, No One, not the guests, nor the hotel staff seemed to mind. In fact, people came forward to help me accomplish what is scientifically an impossible task. And why should they mind? I wasn’t hurting anyone.
Now coming to supermarkets. Hey, as an adult, you have just no idea how much fun supermarkets can be. Just look at the trolleys. They just scream adventure! The child doesn’t know yet that anything that goes so fast can be dangerous too, not to mention the old lady with arthritis around the corner aisle whom you might accidentally knock over. Did you know all this when you were five? I though not. You learnt it over time. So why do you expect your child to just know it and to behave accordingly? If he/she did know all that, he/she wouldn’t be a child! He/she would be 40 years old. And that kinda takes the fun out of childhood, doesn’t it?
Now, I firmly believe that the whole ‘good old days’ thing is a myth. Human beings have not genetically evolved in the last 30000 years, so the fact that the previous generation was any different than us, as is many times suggested, is highly unlikely. But lately, I find myself thinking that maybe, just maybe, our parents’ generation were better with children, more tolerant on many levels. They were more accepting of the fact that children are children, not some kind of automatons. We were dragged around everywhere with our parents. And yes, we were bored. And yes, we would inevitably get up to some kinda mischief or the other. But it didn’t kill us. I, my friends, all the people I grew up with are sensible, successful adults with our heads screwed on quite properly. And yes, we learnt a hell of a lot on those social outings.
There has been a trend lately to exclude children from events. Wedding invitations are issued in which is clearly stated that children are not welcome. Why? Are they no longer part of our families and lives? Why this discrimination? Why are we treating children like they are a different species which are somehow inferior to us? Events like weddings, or funerals are family events and it is unethical to exclude any member of the family from it just because they happen to be two feet tall. Also, if you exclude children from such social events, how will they ever learn what acceptable social behavior is? And then you complain that your kid just doesn’t know how to behave in public!
Wake up, darlings! No one comes out of the womb already knowing everything there is to know. It takes time to learn the ways of the world!!
BTW, it was this link that got me thinking.