Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Kids Are (Not) Alright

I was sitting in a coffee shop with my mom yesterday after work enjoying a lovely cappuccino and cookie, reading the paper, trying to relax my stressed mind, overwhelmed with job-interview anxiety among other things.

However it was rather hard to relax given that there were 3 kids in the "toy area" yelling at the top of their lungs to each other and banging the toys around as much as they could. It sounded like they were dismantling a frigin nuclear missile over there given the sounds of destruction that were coming from that corner. After a bit they proceeded to leave the "toy area" and run up and down the stairs and back repeatedly in the loudest and most hyper way possible. I actually had to talk to my mom from the top of my lungs just so she could hear me over the din. She was sitting right across the table.

I couldn't help but think - do those kids REALLY need to be that loud? I understand they are kids and they are playing and letting off steam but is it really necessary to stomp through a public place like a herd of elephants? Could their mother not have asked them to not scream or bang QUITE so loud?

Not to mention, on Monday we went to a lake near my mom's house to relax on the grass in the sun and go for a swim. There was a small group of three or four boys, probably around 10 years old, who were gathering balls of seaweed/sludge from the lake-bottom and throwing them at each others heads and yelling and screaming in the process. Trouble was, they were also hitting others including my mom who was trying to have a relaxing swim. She had to speak to them twice. I say "had" to because the boys' parents (wherever they were) certainly didn't see fit to do so.

I realize they were just goofing off, as young boys will do but it's possible to have fun while also respecting the fact that others are around you and want to enjoy themselves too. And not everyone's idea of enjoying themselves is having kids scream in their ear and being hit in the head with lake sludge (call them crazy).

On the one hand I feel like a huge douche saying these things because I do realize that kids are loud and sometimes obnoxious; they don't have the same concept of personal courtesy that adults do (well, SOME adults). And that's ok! They should be allowed to be kids. And parent's should certainly be allowed to have a break to chat with a friend in the sun or just read the paper over a latte. I'm not a mom so I really have no concept of what it's like to control three energetic children but I know enough to assume that it's not an easy task.

However, on the other hand I feel there is a line between letting kids be kids and letting your kids just completely run wild with no control or accountability. The mom/guardian of the kids at the coffee place was sitting about six feet away from these kids, so it's not like she didn't see or hear their antics (considering their volume I'm pretty sure their antics could be heard in Australia).

I can't tell you how many times I've been shopping (and also working retail, back when) or sitting and having a coffee and have watched children pulling down displays and shelves, verbally and physically throwing themselves at other customers (and their parents), and just generally walking around like they own the place. And I can't tell you how many times I've watched parent's sit there and do NOTHING about it. I've even seen some parents laugh at these crazy antics as if it's somehow endearing.

I hate to sound like not only a douche but a cranky old lady, but it just seems like kids these days have the control over their parents rather than the other way around and I don't get it. It frustrates me on one level because, as a member of Generation Y, I feel like I'm constantly hearing from older folks how ungrateful, lazy and entitled we "young people" are and how much better their attitudes and expectations were when they were our age, when it seems to me that it's actually the Generation BEHIND us that is like this.

Sure, there are people in my generation who do live up to this stereotype, but aren't there in every generation? I suppose too that every generation thinks that one that comes behind them are worse in every way. But I can't help but notice that the children I see around are very different than I ever was - they are demanding and their demands are immediately fulfilled by completely compliant parents who placate their bad attitudes with Happy Meals and Lululemon hoodies (depending on their age), or simply practice systemic ignorance at their behaviour.

I'm only 25 years old so it's not as if I was a kid or teenager EONS ago - I do remember what it's like to think the universe revolves around you and to struggle with a growing body and mind. But I just don't remember me or any of my friends being given whatever we wanted hand over fist. If I wanted something I had to earn it, and if I talked back or acted out I was told where to go and punished for it.

Don't kids have any accountability for their actions anymore? I don't know but the scenes that I'm witnessing out there in public nowadays tell me NO.

Kids will be kids, of course, and for every kid who acts up and has an attitude, there is probably one who is respectful. I know this opinion I'm presenting is a bit extreme and does not consider the millions of factors at play in each individual situation. Plus, I'm almost certain that kids have always been like this from the beginning of time so I really shouldn't judge! But I'm just calling 'em how I see 'em. And the way I see 'em means sometimes I just can't help but wonder what is up with kids these days - and moreover, what is up with parents.

Parenting is a tough job; kids don't come with an instruction manual. But I'm guessing there are more resources and support for parents today than ever before. So parents who don't know how to control their kids: how about picking up a book or browsing a website and picking up some tips about telling your kids NO and letting them know who's BOSS. Despite what your kids may think or tell you, that person is not THEM, it's YOU.

9 comments:

JoAnne Ferrie said...

I think you have a good point.
I've noticed it too.

I was thinking that maybe todays parents are a little more occupied than say even 10years ago.
lifestyles dramatically changing with technilogical advances. Everyday life seems to be busier and fuller than before. The internet has opened up so many new opportunies.
People want more, but it costs.
Raising a family was considered a full time job in my childhood and now people manage to juggle both. I'm not saying it's a bad choice, but it's got to be stressful I'm guessing.

The kids behave the way they see their parents/family behave.
I reckon any stress rubs off on children, they pick up the vibes and react.
I would be interested at looking at the statistics on how stressed the majority of 5 year olds are.
I just feel the behaviour of children usually directly relates to their homelife and surrounding environment.
Parents that run about trying to cram too many things into their lives might be inadvertantly damaging their children.

just my two cents :)

Allison said...

To start off - I must say how glad I am that the coffee shop I work at doesn't have a toy area! I freakin' hate loud, annoying kids! I've told kids to stop running before and the parents look at me like "how dare you, these are my children, only I tell them what to do." Well I'm the girl who will have to mop up their spilled hot chocolates, so suck it bitch.

Sorry - I really hate kids today - but I really hate yuppy parents who have this lax view of parenting in public. I bet at home these things don't happen - wouldn't want to ruin mommy's newly (professionally) decorated living room, so lets take them to a public place. Let the wild ruckus begin!

Kim Humes said...

JoAnne - thanks for your comment - I think you present some really good points. I totally agree that parents have more demands on their time now - I grew up with a single mom who worked full time so I understand how hard it is to raise kids nowadays and keep food on the table. Our lives are just busier and more demanding than ever and it certainly takes its toll.

Alison - I totally hear you! I wanted to comment on those kids so bad yesterday but I felt like if I did I would be looked at like a nosy bitch. One things for sure, if I have kids they won't be allowed to run around a public place like a bunch of hooligans.

Katie said...

Hmm...I'm not sure I'd count it as a generational thing. (I hate the "this entire generation is spoiled" generalization.) And I don't think "kids these days" are the problem. Kids are kids, and they just haven't developed the skills yet to be aware of others when they do these things, especially not little ones. It's the parents' job to keep their kids in line and to remind them to be courteous and to make sure that even when their kids don't know better than to annoy other people, they are prevented from doing so. I blame parents, who are too busy NOT paying attention to their kids to be bothered with things like: making your kids use their indoor voices, stopping kids from having a sludge fight involving complete strangers who don't want to be sludged, pulling down displays in shops, running around grown-up restaurants screaming at the top of their lungs, standing up in their chairs at restaurants, running through busy parking lots without paying a bit of attention to cars, etc., etc.

We were at IKEA a while back with friends, and as we were coming downstairs, we noticed this 18-month-old going down the stairs all by himself. We looked around for an adult, and thought we spotted his parent at the top of the stairs keeping an eye on him. We walked behind him, though, just to be sure that he didn't fall and hurt himself. Then, when we got to the bottom, we looked up and the parent wasn't paying any attention at all, and the boy was about to take off. So I suggested he try the stairs again and sent him back up, thinking his parents would appreciate that I kept him from running off. A little while later, we ran into the little boy again, this time with a set of adults who hadn't been anywhere around when the stair thing had happened. And I'm just thinking...who the HELL let's their 18-month-old wander around by himself?

There are so many times when I see kids misbehaving in public places. All I can think is, when I was little, my mom would have KILLED me if I'd acted like that in public. She thought it was MORTIFYING if her kids started bugging other people. Parents these days don't give a rat's ass about other people, and I guess they think their kids can do no wrong. Either that, or they're just lazy.

This is one of my biggest pet peeves, generational issue or not. I just want to go around and smack the parents for not taking care of their kids. Don't they have any idea how obnoxious their children are going to turn out?

Scraps said...

I know when I grew up (and I'm Gen X, so not really all *that* much older) we were too afraid to misbehave--Mom was not shy about reprimanding us, even in public, and we learned how to behave.

I don't see that happening quite as much with the Millenials, though I agree it's more a few bad apples and not necessarily endemic of the generation. You hit the nail on the head, though, that it seems the children are the ones in control--several things I've read from a business/marketing point of view indicate that trend is definite in place and the young are being catered to much more than in previous generations.

AubreyRose @ My Simple Everyday said...

You're totally not a douche - I absolutely understand where you are coming from! It is SUPER frustrating when kids are obviously misbehaving and parents aren't doing anything about it.

Maybe my views will change once I have kids of my own... but I will tell you now that I will work my darn hardest to make sure they learn to be respectful of people and their surroundings, especially in public.


Also, wherever you live sounds awesome! To be able to relax at a lake by your mom's house without having to drive 3 hours to get there is amazing.

Kim Humes said...

Thanks Aubrey! I agree, if I ever have kids you can be sure they won't be acting like that in public! Yes I live in a great place! lol. It's called Halifax, Nova Scotia and the "sister city" across the harbour where my mom lives is called Dartmouth and it's actually called "the city of lakes". The specific lake we were at has 4 rowing/paddling clubs on it so a lot of the culture of Dartmouth revolves around that.

Scraps said...

I know when I grew up (and I'm Gen X, so not really all *that* much older) we were too afraid to misbehave--Mom was not shy about reprimanding us, even in public, and we learned how to behave.

I don't see that happening quite as much with the Millenials, though I agree it's more a few bad apples and not necessarily endemic of the generation. You hit the nail on the head, though, that it seems the children are the ones in control--several things I've read from a business/marketing point of view indicate that trend is definite in place and the young are being catered to much more than in previous generations.

Katie said...

Hmm...I'm not sure I'd count it as a generational thing. (I hate the "this entire generation is spoiled" generalization.) And I don't think "kids these days" are the problem. Kids are kids, and they just haven't developed the skills yet to be aware of others when they do these things, especially not little ones. It's the parents' job to keep their kids in line and to remind them to be courteous and to make sure that even when their kids don't know better than to annoy other people, they are prevented from doing so. I blame parents, who are too busy NOT paying attention to their kids to be bothered with things like: making your kids use their indoor voices, stopping kids from having a sludge fight involving complete strangers who don't want to be sludged, pulling down displays in shops, running around grown-up restaurants screaming at the top of their lungs, standing up in their chairs at restaurants, running through busy parking lots without paying a bit of attention to cars, etc., etc.

We were at IKEA a while back with friends, and as we were coming downstairs, we noticed this 18-month-old going down the stairs all by himself. We looked around for an adult, and thought we spotted his parent at the top of the stairs keeping an eye on him. We walked behind him, though, just to be sure that he didn't fall and hurt himself. Then, when we got to the bottom, we looked up and the parent wasn't paying any attention at all, and the boy was about to take off. So I suggested he try the stairs again and sent him back up, thinking his parents would appreciate that I kept him from running off. A little while later, we ran into the little boy again, this time with a set of adults who hadn't been anywhere around when the stair thing had happened. And I'm just thinking...who the HELL let's their 18-month-old wander around by himself?

There are so many times when I see kids misbehaving in public places. All I can think is, when I was little, my mom would have KILLED me if I'd acted like that in public. She thought it was MORTIFYING if her kids started bugging other people. Parents these days don't give a rat's ass about other people, and I guess they think their kids can do no wrong. Either that, or they're just lazy.

This is one of my biggest pet peeves, generational issue or not. I just want to go around and smack the parents for not taking care of their kids. Don't they have any idea how obnoxious their children are going to turn out?

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