Friday, July 17, 2009

Out of the mouths of babes

I am not yet a parent, though I dearly hope to be someday. The restaurant I work at is family friendly, so I get to see tons of kiddos everyday. Today, two incidents occurred reminding me just how difficult it must be to be a parent these days.
The first incident happened around our checkout area. We happen to have a gift shop like area set up with toys, candies, books, etc for customers to purchase. While I did not see the buildup to the child screaming as I had my back turned making drinks for one of my tables, I can figure out easily what happened. Suddenly, out of no where, I hear a child yell at quite a loud volume especially considering we were packed with two busloads of people at the time "You're a bad mommy!" I immediately turned my head to see the child devolve into an absolute tantrum rolling on a bench wailing. I am sure the child wanted a toy or candy which mommy had no intention of purchasing. The mother continued paying the bill and simply looked over at the child angrily until she had finished signing her card. She quickly grabbed the child by the arm and escorted her out of the restaurant while her other child followed dutifully. I doubt the child throwing the tantrum was more than 4(hence, my picking a picture of myself at 4 to top the post.). This lead to several of my coworkers and I talking about how our own mothers would have reacted to a similar situation. We all seemed to be in agreement that had we lost our minds and been insane enough to say something like that in public we probably still would have problems sitting in any sort of comfortable position. Times change though. I do not necessarily condone corporal punishment. It seems though amongst those of us of my generation it seemed more the norm. When I babysat, I saw how quickly times had changed to timeouts. I do not know which works better personally although I tend more to be of the belief that violence begets violence. I can say that even though I know that kids say hurtful things to their parents as a way of asserting independence I think I still would have been overcome not only with embarassment but extreme hurt.
The second incident is less than humorous. Two children and their mother were seated at the counter eating dinner. I missed the part of the conversation that predicated one of the girls asking their mother what CPR was. The mother stammered I assumed trying to find a way to explain in easily digestible terms for her preschool age daughter CPR. Much to my surprise, I overheard the mother give a clearly incorrect explanation of CPR. Now, I am sure she was talking about the CPR used to resucitate those who have stopped breathing as she gave a medically based explanation basically describing the Hemlich maneuver. I know there are times when parents must deal with having a highly intelligent child and reaching a point where information may be beyond what they know. However, to simply be wrong about something I assumed to be pretty basic knowledge when your children are still so young nearly stopped me in my tracks. Kids thanks to the a multitude of media outlets in the information age are exposed to an enormous amount of things that lead to curious questions. I know I asked my mother as a very young child how a rainbow was made. My mother with her science background probably gave me a more detailed explanation than I was expecting. Whatever would this poor mother do in that situation which lead me to think is it difficult to be a stupid parent or is it simply blissfully ignorant? Will I be wise enough to ask for help finding the answer to give my children when I don't know the right answer something my mother firmly believed in or will I be responsible for my children repeating mistaken information?
On a sidenote, my father found it funny to give my brother and I misinformation for his own amusement. This though was generally harmless and usually only served to gross us out. I remember him telling us that Mountain Dew was goat pee. Even though I am well aware and have been since probably the age of 7 that Mountain Dew is not goat pee, the combination of the memory and the odd quite unnatural color of the beverage has prevented me from drinking it without being grossed out. There were several other stories like this including his comedic explanation of hemrhoids which while even outlandish to us as children was so funny and gross kept us on the edge of our seats until his explanation reached its ridiculous conclusion. This is what I now refer to a dad humor, usually goofy often pulling a child's leg in a way that only older children and adults can see but not in any way meant to demean the child. It also includes guys telling corny jokes. To me, when I see a male who has what I refer to as dad humor, I immediately note that he either already has kids or probably will be a good dad someday.

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