Monday, November 07, 2011

NaBloPoMo Day 7: Social Outings with Kids

I admit that before I had a child, I was one of those people who often was annoyed, irritated, aggravated and disgusted when people brought their kids to social events and their kids would be loud, screaming, and poorly behaved.  I am ashamed to say it, but it really, really bothered me.

It still bothers me.

I feel like the most awful parent in the world saying that screaming, screeching, wailing, crying, and tantrum throwing just grate on my nerves. It drives me absolutely bonkers.

I always thought that when I had a baby of my own, I'd take him or her everywhere with me. He or she would accompany Hubby and me to every social gathering, ballet, musical, concert, church ceremony, wedding, anniversary, and so on. That is how I truly felt. I wanted my child to grow up "cultured" and understand that when we are at the ballet or at a musical, we behave a certain way. There's a time and place to run and play and there's a time and place to enjoy the sights and sounds around  you and on stage.

Little One's first year was fabulous. She was an excellent baby. We took her to every social gathering we went to and she just slept through everything. Last year and this year are a different story. She's a toddler and she's more aware of her surroundings. She's also a very active child. We tried to have her sit through a musical, but when she started to show signs of being antsy, I immediately scooped her up, ducked out the back door and took her outside, where she ran around and played in the parking lot. Sure, I felt badly that I missed the play that I really wanted to watch, but I did not want others to suffer from hearing a whiny child protest that she didn't want to sit and watch the play.

There's a time and place for everything.

Some may feel that places like theaters are no place for children. I can understand the reasoning. If I'm paying to watch and enjoy a show, I do not want to hear a screaming child in the background. It really ruins the experience.

At the same time, if your child is one that can sit through a show and appreciate it, then I think it's fine for your child to attend. I believe that culture, music and the arts are important for children. I also believe in cultivating our child's curiosity and creativity. I want her to be able to enjoy the ballet and other shows. She does pretty well and loves the ballet. However, if I sense (and parents usually know how to 'read' their kids) that she is getting fidgety, I take her out for a walk and that stops a tantrum before it starts.

Be considerate to those around  you.

What really gets me is parents who don't do this. I've been to events where parents have been 'unresponsive' and just let their kids run loose like animals or scream their heads off. From experience, it has given parents who do prevent this kind of behaviour a bad name. Because of a few "uncontrollable monsters" (not my words, but words uttered by someone at an event we were at), now a "no children" rule has been imposed on some events we go to.

Granted, sometimes preventing a toddler meltdown is unavoidable and it is hard on the parents as well as the child. I understand that totally. I just always feel badly when friends' kids scream their heads off and others trying to enjoy a show get upset. Then I realize that I'm more concerned about how others feel than my friends whose kids are making the noise are.

Me: Maybe [insert child's name here] would like to get some fresh air outside? The man in front of us looks really annoyed.

Friend: Oh, he can just ---- himself then if he's upset.

Me: Well, [insert child's name here] is REALLY screaming loudly and everyone's paid a lot of money to see this musical.

Friend: If they don't like the crying, they can leave.

Me: (totally shocked and thinking, "You mean, YOU can leave because your kid is ruining everyone's experience of the show!") Oh, alrighty then.

I agree that some outings should be adults only. If it's an adult party (ummm...not that kind of adult party!), I understand. Cocktails and drinks, posh hors d'hoevres and desserts? Adult party. If it's a family oriented party, of course it's okay to bring kids. We bring Little One to almost every outing we go on. I don't bring her to Ladies' Night. I don't bring her to funerals. I don't bring her to any particular shows that I want to enjoy. There's no point in me taking her to a show I want to see if I'm not going to be able to sit back and enjoy it. There are only a few places I don't bring her. Plus, I secretly don't like going places without my little munchkin. I really love hanging out with my toddler.

This is a really touchy subject. What do you think?  
Should parents take kids on all their social outings?


Taylor said...

I agree 100% with your opinion on this matter. I do not have kids myself. I respect my friends that do. But please either remove your kid at first signs of distress or don't bring them at all if you know that is what they are prone to do. I remember my parents telling me that they could not go out to eat with me when I was little, like under the age 2-3 because for some reason I would just go nuts. So they chose to just not do that for awhile because they didn't want to disturb others. In the same sense as events, I get really annoyed by parents who don't control their kids in a grocery store or the mall. Getting run over by a 5 year old who is playing tag with their siblings via the clothes racks can get really annoying. Take them to a park, play with them or something. Really, there is a reason why they are showcasing the behavior. I understand that kids aren't always perfect. I understand that parents aren't always perfect either. But the parents that just turn their heads and ignore the behavior...really??? That's why your kids are doing what they are doing!! Okay, I'll step down from the soap box. Enjoyed reading your post. :)

C said...

:) Thank you for commenting! I forgot to add the getting run over by kids at the store! THAT'S annoying too!

A friend always says, "Kids are just being kids". Though this is true, again...time and place for everything. They can run around in the park or playground. Running around in stores, weaving in and out of aisles? That's also very dangerous.

Not everyone agrees with each other's parenting styles and techniques. Some believe it is best to let children be free and learn to express themselves their own way. Yes, I believe that is great, but also think children need guidance and parents need to teach them appropriate behaviour. How else are they going to learn?

Frau Guten Tag said...

Im embarrassed to say that in my 20s I hated hearing kids fuss & cry just about anywhere I was. Of course after having stepkids & now my son I realize its pretty much a normal part of life & Im not so bothered by it.

I also like having my son with me. I always wish for a break, a date night perhaps, but then on the rare occasion I get it I miss my boy TERRIBLY. Go figure.

For us me & hubby have given up things that J cant tolerate. Going to the movies, etc. We rarely eat in restaurants but when we do its a challenge. J has a really hard time sitting still for any length of time & gets VERY antsy before we're done. In all honesty in restaurants I usually resort to showing J videos & photos on my iPhone to keep him calm. And my hubby is REALLY good at preventing meltdowns, much better than me, althoughI hate to admit it.

Im really pretty tolerant of other peoples kids crying & fussing. It probably wont bother me unless its totally out of hand & going on for a while.

I think whether or not its ok to take your little one everywhere really depends on the kid. Some kids are much more fussy than others & it also varies from situation to situation. But parents know their kids & should be able to know what is & isnt doable based on that.

C said...

True, crying and fussing is definitely a part of life with kids. I'm totally with you on that.

When it's babies that are crying, it doesn't bother me.

The thing I have a hard time with is when people bring their kids out and they have full on meltdowns - you know the temper tantrum throwing, flailing arms and screaming at the top of one's lungs kind of meltdowns? THAT I just can't seem to stand. I don't know what it is, but is sets something off inside me that really makes me irritated. Then when the parents don't do anything about it (like ignore it, let them thrash themselves about all over the floor or furniture...), that just amazes me.

Chantal said...

LOL! Oh, C! You're talking about MY kids! They are horrible. We know it too! We just can't control them.

SmalltownOntario said...

I agree with you about taking the children places... then taking them outside/hall when they can not take it any longer.
I always took my children to funerals. Then when it came time for a very close family member they understood what was going on. We have even taken our grandchildren to funerals and they where just babies.
It is great to hear what you do with your daughter. Keep up the good work!

Steph said...

I think that taking them to social events is fine, just understand that it is YOU who has to accommodate EVERYONE ELSE once your child starts acting up. If their needs aren't being met, they act up and you, as their parent, need to react and act on that.
There have been many occasions where we have had to leave a restaurant because one of our kids started acting up either because it was getting close to their bed time or the wait for the table was long and we didn't plan accordingly.
It's really simple - make sure they are fed, that they have had adequate rest and what they are about to go into isn't age appropriate for them. Would I take my kids to a cocktail party? Nope, they would be bored to tears. Would I take my kids to a play? Sure!

caninecologne said...

hi c - i'm totally with you. i have a kid (11 yrs old now) myself and it still bothers me when i hear/see/have to be next to bratty ass kids. sorry if that makes me sound like some sort of @$$hole but that's the truth. some parents are inconsiderate and just let their demonspawn run amok. if your kid is distressed or crying at the movies, the theatre, church, restaurant, or whatever, please please please take them out of the building! (pulls out hair)

i'm not that tolerant when parents don't take initiative to curb their kids' poor behaviors but most of the time, i bite my tongue or suppress my feelings because it's a friend's kid and i don't want to step on their toes about their shitty parenting skills. oops, did i say that? hahah.

if it's a baby crying, it doesn't bother me that much becuase it's a baby and that's what they do. it's the temper tantrums that really bug me. my kid isn't perfect but i am so glad that she never had a meltdown in public because she knew it wouldn't fly with us.

C said...

LOL! Noooooo! Totally wasn't talking about your kids! Why? Are they temper tantrum throwers??

C said...

Love your name! I live in small town Ontario too! lol Maybe not the same small town, but it's pretty small!

Good idea about introducing kids to funerals early. We contemplated it. At the time, I wondered if it was something we should do. I'm the worst at funerals though. Can't hold myself together. I wouldn't know how to explain to a 2 year old why Mama is weeping uncontrollably. I was thinking maybe in another year or two when she can better understand what's going on.

I agree with you though. It is a good idea for them to understand early on. :)

C said...

You nailed it on the head. Make sure your kids are fed and have had enough rest!!! Those are the two main reasons kids get crabby. If they're hungry or if they missed their nap (if they still nap), it makes a difference between a great experience in a social setting and a really crazy one.

I've seen people drag their kids about and it's go-go-go all the time. The kids are tired, cranky, miserable, hungry, and then they have huge hissy fits and the parents don't understand why the kids are acting up.

I'm not saying those are the only reasons. Those are just two. Most parents know how to read the signs and see what their kids need. Preventing a meltdown is much easier than dealing with one.

C said...

I had to laugh because I KNOW how you feel about this! LOL! I also know that your child is one of the most well-behaved, respectful kids I have EVER met!!! You guys have done well!

caninecologne said...

thanks c - she's not perfect but she knew at an early age that begging/crying or throwing a tantrum wouldn't work, so she didn't do it.

Calfkeeper said...

No, I dont' think parents should take their kids to every socail outing. You and everyone commenting have hit all the main points. It depends on the child and on the occasion.

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