A mom takes her five year old child out to a fast food pizza joint. Mom takes the paper plate with the pizza slice and places it on an outdoor table. The child grins at his mom and kneels on the chair in front of the slice. Smiling, he commences to dip his face down on the pizza and licks some of the cheese, maybe even nibbles a bite. Mom sits down beside him and smiles.
It’s so nice to see a parent smiling at their child like this. Who knows what she’s been through. Is this the first time she’s smiling today? Maybe the child had a meltdown earlier. Maybe she hasn’t seen him all day because of her night-shift at the factory this week and she was sleeping while her child was up. Maybe this is the youngest of all of her children and he’s tired of homeschooling, of not being able to play with his friends, of watching some people in his orbit walk around with these strange masks on their faces. Maybe he’s acting out, or crying a lot. Or maybe this isn’t the mom at all. Maybe this is an aunt, or a caregiver, or a neighbour giving the parents a break. Maybe the sheer joy in the child who is playing up some silliness at this outdoor table takes away some of his stress of having to adhere to manners at the dinner table at home. Maybe this is exactly the sort of thing that is needed right now, for the child and the adult.
This child has no manners. She must be a terrible parent for allowing the child to kneel on a chair with his feet up like that. How come she doesn’t correct him? They are in public, and this is offensive to people dining nearby. This is exactly the sort of thing that is wrong with society today. Parents are too slack. In our generation we would have been slapped, the food taken away, and given a lecture with consequences.