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.


Susan (aka Sunny) said...

Nice topic Otis....who was more obnoxious? Definitely was the parent who allowed this to go on...I agree with you...remove your child from the situation.... don't expect others to not get irritated with your wailing child. Funny... this topic falls along the lines of pet owners too...specifically dog owners who let their dogs bark all day long....I make my dogs behave...why are people so discourteous?

Anonymous said...

Parents are funny people. Parents at their children’s sporting events are even odder people. I had always thought the point of sports was to learn a life lesson. Good health, good sportsmanship, fairness… What lesson do parents teach when they behave like children or worse? I, myself, do not like to be around “ugly” children. I like even less to be around “ugly” adults. We are supposed to teach our children through example and by how we express discipline for them and ourselves. Parents are also territorial, they can act as bad as they like and treat their children as poorly as they feel is necessary however if someone else finds fault or criticizes, then get out of the way because you just stepped over the bounds to talk to “my child”. At a 1st grade baseball game, while Brad was coaching for the first time, a from the other team got so mad he yelled at the whole team, picked up his chair and threw it at my husband. What does that teach two teams of 1st graders? It is ok to act like an ass if you don’t get your way? I don’t mind sitting in a restaurant with a nosey happy baby, but be considerate and take your crying toddler, who you forced to sit for 2 hours while you drank and ate dinner with your friends outside or better yet, home so you can feed it and put him to bed where he should have been and it isn’t his fault he is cranky, it is yours for being an inconsiderate parent…. Ok, enough from me on that subject. Did I say anything?

Friend_In_TN said...

Had a similar, "Who was wrong?" situation this wknd. On the way to our campsite on Dad's farm a big ole block-headed black dog chased us down the driveway, sending Lucky and Molly into fits. The dog chased us on down the driveway freaking my dogs out. My dogs fought to get to the window on the side where the chaser was barking furiously, and scratched Sunday Girl's leg badly in the process. Fed up, I stopped the car, jumped out, grabbed a couple of rocks and chunked them - hard - at the big black dog, who stopped abruptly though I missed both times. Just then I saw the dog's owner running toward me screaming - he had been watching from his back porch - and he was yelling at me, not the dog, "Come here! Don't you EVER throw rocks at my dog!" He was a mighty big ole boy, probably had been drinking all day (it was the Fourth), and was mad as an old wet hen. I yelled, "Fence that dog!" then jumped in the 4-Runner and proceeded on down the hill, Sunday Girl still screaming from the scratches which were now bleeding. The fellow ran over to our barn and told Old Pops that if I ever did that again, he'd break every window in my car. Which would compound a nuisance - me throwing rocks at his dog, and missing twice - with a serious crime - malicious vandalism. All the time he and his dog were on Dad's farm, trespassing. But they are friendly neighbors. The fellow takes Dad's trash out, for Pete's sake. I shouldn't have thrown rocks at his dog, but the dog should have been fenced. We were both wrong, I think. My bad decision was fueled by anger after Sunday Girl got scratched, and his bad decision just stemmed from being a redneck. It's a strange world.