Even in the sea of noise and electronic congestion, life still has some pleasures. One, I own, is eating. Another is shopping for food, which requires the similar organs of imagination and memory. As I get older, and a number of foods become allowable to me only in small portions, the memory part becomes almost predominant.
Yet even such limited pleasures were severely compromised when I was shopping the other night. A small girl in a shopping cart near me began to shout out to the fullness of her lungs. I tried to scurry away from her, but the cart seemed to follow me.
Yet this was not the worst. As I hustled down an aisle looking for yogurt, another set of lungs began shouting out in competition with the small girl. I looked about for another child to frown at, but found none. It was the girl’s mother who was egging her on with the shouts!
Such, I’m afraid, is a too frequent scene in public places today. Children misbehave to the annoyance of nearby adults, and the miscreants’ parents continue to talk on their cellphones, bark ineffective commands or even delight in the misconduct. As a result, many restaurants have instituted no children policies.
Good parenting seems to be a disappearing skill. The biological spawning of a new person creates a child. It does not create a parent. Parenting, as the better parents and responsible adults know, involves considerable work.
Today the basics of parenting seem forgotten. In cases of child neglect, government social agencies often require parents to take parenting classes. It seems that parenting classes should now be mandatory for all new parents.
There are still, of course, many good parents. Their children behave well, and are unfairly punished by the no children policies. But the misbehaving children are also unfairly affected by them. It is the misbehaving children, not usually the parents, who suffer our harsh glances and sharp words.
A fairer solution would be to ban the lazy and ineffective parents from stores and restaurants. Their children could go to such public places, provided they are accompanied by responsible adults. They might actually learn to behave. And the rest of us could again enjoy our dinners and shopping excursions.