There are places where I am a visitor and need to respect the residents like I would as a guest in anyone’s home. For example, I would not walk into the deep dark woods of Maine where bears are known to live and be surprised when they pounce, claw me to pieces and eat me. It was my own fault for wandering into a place where I was not welcome.
Similarly, if I am brave and stupid enough to venture into a Chuck E Cheese, McDonald’s or Joker’s, I am way out of my element. These locations are considered a child’s natural habitat and as such I must respect their behavior as it is found in the wild.
I am even amazing tolerant in the middle ground of locations where both people and wild creatures – as well as adults and children – must learn to co-exist peacefully with one another. Look at crying babies on airplanes. Is it annoying? Sure. The situation is annoying, but I’ve never found myself annoyed with either the parent or the child. Parents often need to travel by air and babies cry. At some point those two truths will intersect and that’s just life.
Nope, I’m not upset in the least at wild children in their natural habitat or fussy children in public locations.
What does make me both wild and fussy and is the third category. Children who run and scream like banshees in locations where they have absolutely no business being if they can’t behave.
Let’s return to my bear analogy for a moment. Just as I don’t purposely wander into their caves, I think it is appropriate to expect to be bear-free in a number of locations. A nice restaurant, for instance. Or an R-rated movie. I would not expect a bear to sit at the next table screaming in an ear-shattering tone about eating her vegetables when I am paying in the double digits for a dish of pasta. I also don’t expect the grown-up movie I just paid $10 to see ($150 with popcorn and a soda) to be interrupted with bears running up and down the aisles. In these situations, a game warden would track down the bear, shoot it with a tranquilizer gun and drag it back to the wild.
Now, I’m not saying that children found running and screaming in a fancy restaurant should be tranqed and dropped off at the nearest Burger King.
Because that would be wrong.
No. I’m not even saying that kids can’t or shouldn’t be brought into certain traditionally kid-free locations. I personally know some really good children who are wild monkeys where it is appropriate for kids to be kids, but can pull it together and behave in a more grown-up situation.
The issue now that I think of it may not be the kids (or the bears) at all. Maybe it’s that really good kids have really good zoo-keepers.
I mean parents.