Friday, May 14, 2010

To Scream or Ask Not to Scream

At my son's Little League game yesterday, I witnessed a scenario that I found somewhat interesting.

Another kid on our team got out. He immediately started to throw a fit, and was escorted out of the dugout to an area adjacent to another field. Once there, he proceeded to spend... oh, about 10 minutes or so... wailing. He kept ranting "I ALWAYS get out!" accompanied with a "Give me attention!" cry, which was working. At one point, a woman at the adjacent field had had enough. She came over and politely said, "Honey, if you want to cry, maybe you should move away from the fields. It's distracting to the other players." Mom #1 exploded with, "You don't talk to my son like that!", and the other woman responded by going back to the other field. Mom #1 starting pacing around and ranting herself, saying things like "If she thinks THAT'S bad, I should make him REALLY cry!" Eventually, the howling kid received a stern talk from his coach about being a "big boy", and he was escorted to the parking lot. Situation... settled? Not quite.

The other woman apparently felt guilty about saying anything in the first place. Later, she walked by, and made a point of apologizing to Mom #1. Mom #1 wouldn't take it, as she was just "too offended". The other woman gave up, and started walking towards the parking lot... at which point Mom #1 belted, "It's a baseball game, not the library!" Well, that's true... but part of playing baseball is being a good sport, of which her son was definitely not.

All of this makes me think about how I handle my own kids, and what I hope to see from other people's kids.

First of all, I've never allowed my kids to misbehave in a public place. If we're in a restaurant, I take them outside. I know I don't like listening to other kids cry when I'm enjoying a meal out, so I don't expect anyone else to have to listen to mine. In the grocery store? Take them outside until they calm down. And if they don't? Go home, and come back for your stuff later. I also struggle with wailing kids in churches, movies, or other sit-down public events. The parents are spending so much time fussing with them, they're not even aware of what's going on. So why go? It never really seemed that big of a deal to me to just remove them from the situation.

Now, back to the game scenario... I could never do what the other woman did. I would never have the gumption to actually say something. I just grin and bear it, and hope that they eventually stop. I also think it was quite admirable on her part to go apologize, feeling full well (I'm sure) that she was right. Still, I don't blame her for saying something. Quite frankly, I was tired of listening to him wail myself.

I guess my question is... who was out of line? What's more obnoxious, letting your kid scream, or telling someone else's screaming kid to stop? I'm a bit biased, as I'm fairly militant about disciplining my kids. I'm curious what the common consensus would be.

And one disclaimer: I'm not claiming my kids are always perfect angels; as they also have their moments. This thought is more about what you allow them to get away with in public.