The problem with children is that you have to put up with their parents. November 29, 2006
I donâ€™t have kids, and Iâ€™ve never been terribly good with them. I like babies, I think most kids are cute and can be counted on to baby-sit in a pinch, but as a general rule I donâ€™t really know what to do with them. Iâ€™m good with older kids and teenagers, because I can talk to them like adults. But I donâ€™t really know how to talk to kids. I donâ€™t know what to talk about, and Iâ€™m not good with baby talk. I donâ€™t have a good happy voice. Itâ€™s awkward for me.
That said, when a kid in a restaurant (such as, oh I donâ€™t know, Chik-Fil-A) is sitting at another table and talks or waves to me, I engage them. I think itâ€™s cute. I say hi and ask their name and make faces. I know how to do all that.
What I donâ€™t know is what to do when said kid then gets out of his seat, waddles over to my table, and takes a fry off of my tray. Or what to do when his mom, who can see everything thatâ€™s happening, stays in her seat and just laughs and calls out, â€œLoooooogaaaaaaaaaaan! Those arenâ€™t yours!â€ I do know that when the kid goes for your nuggets and you grab his hand because heâ€™s about to fall over, said mom will give you a look, come get her child and walk away with him while telling him what a silly boy he is. And she will not say a word to you, apology or otherwise.
I donâ€™t know whether or not itâ€™s appropriate to speak up when, for example, a mother lets her couldnâ€™t-be-more-than-two-and-thatâ€™s-being-generous child into the play area and tells him to be careful before joining her friend back at their table to loudly discuss all their friends. But I do know that when that kid wants out of the play area but isnâ€™t strong enough to open the door and is about to cry, I am going to get up and go help him, lest he get stuck between the door and the wall. And I know that when I do that, his mother will lean around the corner to see whatâ€™s going on and ask, â€œIs he trying to get out?â€ like Iâ€™m her hired babysitter and sheâ€™s just checking in to see how Iâ€™m doing.
Now, like I said, I donâ€™t have kids, so maybe Iâ€™m missing something. Maybe these are totally appropriate mothering tactics and I am judging something I know nothing about. Maybe itâ€™s en vogue in parenting circles these days to just let your kid roam free in a public place and to use the playground and surrounding customers for child care. Maybe she was teaching him to fend for himself? Toughen up? Find his own food? I donâ€™t know. Apparently I have a lot to learn before I start having kids.