Parents of small children, first let me say that I love your children, I really do. They are cute and adorable and yes, the world once revolved around my children too.
However, I must say I do not appreciate loud, untrained, “free range” children who have not been taught that there are other people in the world with whom they need to be aware of and co-habitat with.
As we boarded Car 4 of the EuroRail train, the immediate increase in the decibel level was clearly noticeable. The shrieks and shrills coming from 4 small, but powerful, little people was overwhelming. As soon as we passed them, Nick stopped walking and started to put our carry on bags on the overhead self. I could only shudder. “Are these our seats? Here? These two?” “Yes,” he nodded.
Nooooo! this is not happening. Our lovely, relaxing, enjoyable early morning train ride through beautiful Kent and into the hills and green valleys of France, has just turned into the “Highway to Hell.”
Children are children, I get that. They are animated, they talk and laugh and sing. They are known to sometimes shriek for no reason at all. Those are all the warm, wonderful things we love about children.
However untrained, unattended children; children who constantly kick the back of your seat; speak and sing in their “outside” voice (whilst inside); children who play with the tray table and watch cartoons on their iPad, without headphones, can become annoying, very quickly!
Rather than dividing and conquering, the parents sat 4 across, all together. Their children also sat 4 across, all together, in the row of seats in front of them. Armed with iPads, toys and books, the children were happy and oblivious to the world around them. They could have been in their homes on the couch. There was no obvious effort on the part of any of the parents, to quiet them, calm them or point out to them that they were in fact on a train (with about 50 other people) and not in their living room.
After only about 20 minutes, the young woman sitting diagonal to us, stood up, took a few steps towards them and sternly asked if the child watching cartoons could either turn it off or use headphones. BRAVO! Bravo you! I was still contemplating how I was going to approach them, without coming across as “too American.”
Look, I admit it, I’m getting old and possibly a little cranky. I don’t have the patience and tolerance I had as a younger woman… But I honestly don’t think that was the case, today. Nick who can tune ANYTHING out, was also unable to ignore the banging tray tables, screeching voices and annoying cartoon sounds.
I was an active “hippie” when I raised my daughter Sera. She got to choose and wear the clothes she wanted (even when they didn’t match) and she was encouraged to share her feelings and to be vocal. She, knew she had rights and that her opinion mattered. She was an equal part of our family unit. (Ok stop laughing… It was the age of Aquarius!) However, as progressive and non- traditional as I thought I was… She was taught manners! She was taught to say to “please,” and “thank you” and she responded quickly to “Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh” when I felt she had become loud and boisterous. We used inside voices (before they were known as inside voices) and in public places we curtailed our shrieking and singing.
I adore free thinking, creative, inquisitive children. I actually love being around children! However, I fear these undisciplined, untrained children of today, if not reigned in soon, will grow up to be the loud, obnoxious adults who believe the world revolves around them and that their needs are more important that anyone else’s needs.
Parents…. Teach your children well.