Thursday, February 28, 2008

Control Yourselves Children

Who needs to be socialized, the parents or the children? At Music Jamboree, Violet immediately jumped up and began to dance. The other children were subdued at first, with the exception of one boy whose mother (or grandmother) looked like she was having a root canal. It was the first class and most of the kids needed a few minutes to get comfortable. Violet's exuberance spread quickly and the circle of seated tots became amorphous. It was at this point that the parents started to get uptight. The more the kids enjoyed themselves, the more the Mommies (and two Daddies) tried to reign them in. I don't get it. We all paid $27 for six mornings of music and dancing. Everyone is aware of the class description and yet, the other parents behaved as if their kids were bouncing off the walls waiting on line at the bank. I have actually seen children who were permitted to be crazier at the bank than these kids were encouraged to be at a sing-a-long. I say, as long as no one is causing physical, emotional or collateral damage, let the kids be. How can children be expected to learn the subtle nuances of socially acceptable behavior if we are always poking our noses in where they don't belong? Constant interference eventually leads to constant deafness in children. Grown-ups don't like to be nagged either.

Violet has a pattern in these social situations. She prefers blondes, little girls usually. I assume this is because her most frequent playmate is blond. Vi knows just how to zero in on a willing buddy and then the hugging and hand holding begin in earnest. I am always careful to monitor how Violet's chosen one is handling the attention. I discourage Violet's ardor when necessary. Today's buddy was a ponytailed
blondie named Cara. Cara was more than happy to be Violet's dance partner and yet her father (seated next to me) was clearly uncomfortable. I felt a little like we were on a double date and the other couple was having so much fun that is was embarrassing (to Cara's Daddy, not to me). It didn't help that Cara's judgy Mama was sitting in the corner with a new baby fretting about what an inadequate job her husband was doing with his child. I got the sense that it had been agreed upon that he would be in charge of Cara's entertainment during the nursing phase of new baby's life and yet mama could not let go. She was effectively grabbing the steering wheel from the backseat. In the meantime, I could see nothing objectionable about Cara's behavior. She was the very picture of moderation, having fun and not knocking people over or screaming. In fact, she was totally quiet. Her father kept pleading with her to come sit down. Those kids wouldn't have heard a jet engine over the dulcet tones of Miss Dorie and her acoustic guitar. It was completely pointless. When the jamboree broke up after 30 minutes, Cara's mother began to scold her. I distinctly remember hearing the phrase, "You HAVE GOT to calm down." I swear, I don't think that little sweetie raised her heart rate at all and yet she needed to calm down? I see now how kids end up on ADHD meds. These people have been reading one too many issues of Parents magazine. Children do not have the same social hang-ups that adults do. More importantly, parents and children are separate individuals and that little fact seems to be lost on some of these folks. I do not fear that Cara's parents will invite me over for a playdate and then proceed to try and hug me over and over again. I don't have out of body experiences with my child. I don't imagine myself in her place and have a crisis of personal space. As for possibly offending Miss Dorie, she is a professional musician in the category of children's entertainment and I guarantee she is quite accustomed to being engulfed by churning, wiggling little people. I wager that her feelings would be hurt if they all sat still in their chairs responding to her musical commands in very a restrained, very businesslike fashion. Then again, Violet never looked to me for encouragement the whole time we were there and I sang along anyway. My lack of inhibition will always separate me from most of these people. I just hope Violet doesn't pay too much attention to them along our way.

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