Thursday, August 02, 2012

It takes a village

I've been thinking about Ianqui's recent post about a flap in Brooklyn when a beer garden allowed families to bring their kids along. Her conclusion was that (I'm paraphrasing) people need to chill out about this issue, and I'd agree.

The other day I had to go to Kabletown's local office to pick up some equipment.  There's a waiting room like the one in Beetlejuice where you take a number and wait your turn for 40 minutes or so, except that it's pretty roomy if you opt to stand instead of sitting.

As I stood there reading on my iPhone, two little kids (about 2 and 5) started tearing around the place with the youngest shrieking--you know, that dog's-whistle-level shriek that only little kids can manage. I looked up briefly with my "mom's eyes" but didn't see any buzz saws or other likely hazards, and since the kids were barefoot, they had a pretty good purchase on the uncarpeted floor. There wasn't any way they could likely injure themselves too seriously. I went back to reading.

A woman came out of the door and addressed the kids: "You need to stop running or you'll get hurt."  They looked at her with wide eyes and kept going.

Then they ran up to me and stopped.  I said, "You need to stop shrieking, okay? No shrieking." They didn't stop running but they did stop shrieking. The running didn't bother me, and I went back to reading.

Then the littlest one got into the chair at the desk that Kabletown reserves for the elderly and disabled.  An elderly woman came in with her daughter, and the daughter said, "Please get out of the chair." The child just looked at her as she repeated her request but didn't move.

A woman who was watching this got up, went over to the child, moved the chair, and said, "You need to get out of the chair so that this lady can sit down.  Go find your parents. Where's your mother?"

The older boy said, "We haven't got a mother."  She said, "Go find your father, then," and they went over to the seating area where the father had been ignoring the whole thing. He still didn't say anything to them, but they seemed to settle down.

I guess my point would be this: yes, it probably would have been better if the parent had made some effort at getting the kids to behave, but since he didn't, the rest of the people stepped up--not in a mean way--to let the kids know that they needed to settle down.  The temporary Kabletown village stepped in, and it all worked out.


CarlD said...

Awesome. This is one of those little observational sociologies that gets more work done than some whole books I've read.

Since it's the first week of school, I'm going to try that 'you need to stop shrieking' line. I think it will work on the students, but I'm not sure if it will work on my colleagues.

undine said...

CarlD, I never thought of it for students, but it would be great if it would work!