Perspective

Scenario:

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.

Reaction 1:

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.

Reaction 2:

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.

17 thoughts on “Perspective

  1. I was at an outdoor seating at a cafe last spring. A woman at the next table left her 4 kids alone while she went inside to pick up food. They were all between 18 mos and 5, some boys, some girls. The fact that they all stayed there without a ruckus amazed me. When the mom returned I complimented her on how well-behaved they were in her absence. Didn’t much care if they licked their food.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My reaction would be to smile back and mind my own business. I’ve been at casual dining restaurants where large families let their kids run wild, and I’ve tried to keep Ben contained in public.
    Unless there is a safety issue, or you’re at a place where you can reasonably expect a certain decorum, let it be.
    Cuz like you showed in example #1… we don’t know.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. We were pretty strict with ours when they were little – but only in-so-much as “if you’re here to eat, you sit down, and you’re engaged with the rest of us at the table”. We didn’t push it directly though – we always had meals at the table together (if we could) – and made conversation about the day together. I guess we modelled it, if that’s the right term. And you know what? The kids (now grown) ask after each other’s day at dinner now…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think both are acceptable. As grandma, I see myself smiling and telling my gkids how silly they are first, then tossing them a napkin, telling them to at least sit down as I worry about them falling off the chair.

    Liked by 1 person

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