I’ve become “that woman”. You probably remember her from when you were a tween/teen. You know, the one who glares at you on the playground for not “being careful around the little ones”. The one who tells you to “mind your manners” even though you aren’t my own. And the one who – gasp – asks you to “watch your mouth” around the little ones.
Yes, I’m that mom. And I have to say, I’m not ashamed of it. It just happened this morning when a bunch of camp kids who were far too old to be on the playground anyway were swearing up a storm in front of my two-year old. When they gave me a dirty look for telling them to watch their mouth, I told them I would be happy to report them to the counselors. Then I chastised them for playing on the equipment that they were far too old for (now, before you think I’m nuts, they were playing on the equipment made for 5 year olds – it wasn’t like it was an older playground). OK, maybe I went too far.
But over the last few months, I’ve noticed some absurd things. Maybe I’m getting old. Maybe kids were like this when I was younger. I know I was a pretty respectful nerd kid, but I do think kids are less respectful than I remember from my younger days. And their parents too.
Here’s some of what I noticed. You tell me – is it just a string of bad luck running into inconsiderate people, or is this the way of the world?
1. People don’t watch their preschoolers anymore. OK, this one I have a real problem with. We were at a waterpark yesterday. Yes, it was designed for the little ones, with less than 2 feet of water, but people weren’t watching their preschoolers. Really? It’s not rocket science – kids can drown in much less water. In fact, I saw two young kids (under the age of 4) come off a waterslide and into the pool. They clearly didn’t know how to swim well, and went under. The lifeguard on duty, who was solely responsible for keeping his eyes on two waterslides (yes, only two) missed each of the kids. So the kids are underwater flailing, and me and the other adults go in and grab them. Here’s the kicker – as they are standing on the sidewalk crying because they are scared out of their minds – their parents are nowhere to be found. Really people? The only reason I was at the bottom of the waterslide to begin with was because I was not about to trust my beloved children’s lives to this incompetent lifeguard. They were at the top of the slide with their father (yes, we were both taking responsibility for them), contemplating going down.
2. People don’t watch their school aged kids anymore. So let’s talk about the pool specially designed for preschoolers, with less than 2 feet of water. It’s fun for the little ones, equipped with a little water slide, baby swings, and spray areas. It’s set away from the pools specially designed for kids in school – you know, ones with bigger waterslides, more interactive activities, ropes and ladders. But yesterday the preschool pool was filled with very large, school aged (we’re talking 8, 9, 10 year olds) kids who had no regard for the little ones. Twice my son was pummeled under the water when the older kids didn’t even bother to let him clear the bottom of the slide before going down. My daughter (who is 2) was intentionally splashed in the face by an older kid (yes, of course, I commented on that one). As a parent, I bet it takes a lot less vigilance to watch your 9-year-old in a pool designed for preschoolers. As a parent, if my kids were that age and that inconsiderate of younger kids, they wouldn’ t be allowed near the pool.
3. Kids learn this disrespect from their parents. Cutting in front of others in line. Swearing. Not watching where they were going. Not being mindful of others. Allowing the kids to behave the way they do. Enough said.
I’m getting off my soap box now, but I still stand appalled at the lack of manners and consideration I observed over the last two days. I can only hope to teach my kids better – I may not be perfect, but I make an effort. Am I getting old or are our society’s values changing?