Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Parenting critique

First of all, let me say that in my role as a parent, I will at times be frustrated, irritated, irrational and impatient and make mistakes. With that being said, there are days when I can't help but to critique the parenting style of others.

It's one of my little idiosyncrasies that I'll witness a scene between two people at a restaurant or store and become fascinated. I'll take that little slice of someone else's life and look at it from all angles. What was the message they were trying to communicate, could they have said something a better way, what emotions did I witness, and so forth and so on. Patient Karen has heard me conduct this amateur analysis lots of times and gets tickled at how excited I get. Am I the only one who does this?

Slice of life story:
Yesterday I was browsing in the bookstore when I came across an older woman (probably a grandmother) and a little boy. The little boy had found a book in the "bargain book" section of the store and was very excited. He told his grandmother that they had this book at his school and how much he enjoyed reading and playing with it (it was one of those books that has buttons with electronic voices and sounds). And he asked, "Can I have it?"

His grandmother told him, "No, you can't. You can pick another book, something you don't have at school." The boy cried, "But I want one of my own!" Actually it was more like, "Ooowwwwnnnnnn".

The grandmother took the book away and led the boy back into the children's book section. The boy turned around, went back to the bargain book he loved, and started playing with it again. (I have to say that I admire his single-minded devotion). Grandma followed. The boy asked again. The grandmother tried to reason that he should get a book that he didn't have it school. The boy kept saying "I want my own!" The grandmother kept reasoning. The boy got louder. So did grandma. And then the boy began to scream with frustration.

At which point, I bought my new Stephen King novel and Stitch-n-Bitch calendar and left the store.

I have to side with the kid on this one! I don't understand why Grandma didn't buy him the book. Sure, he has access to the book at school but he probably has to share it with other kids or maybe his reading time is limited. The bargain book was under $5 so I don't think it was a matter of cost. I just don't think that Grandma could wrap her head around the fact that he wanted it when he had the same one at school. But Hello!! It was HIS book not hers. He wanted a book for his reasons - not hers.

And I could understand if she said something like, "Bad behavior (screaming in a store) means no book and we go home". But she didn't do that. She tried to reason with a child about the merits of his book. And their back and forth yelling filled the entire store.

In the end, it was a good example for me and gave me some food for thought on how I would do it differently. I'm open to looking at it a different way so if you have an opinion, I would love to hear it.

[13w, 2d]


Mo said...

I would probably side with the kid too, but I wonder if the grandma had another reason why she didn't want him to have that book? There are some of our son's books that we just don't like, and I could see myself saying "why don't you look for a different one" if that was the case. I will say that thinking on my feet (especially when in public) is one of the toughest things for me as a parent. And frequently, after seeing the consequences, I realize that a different way might have been better, but it's too late, the tantrum has already been thrown, etc.

Amanda said...

Hm...i am the pushover (or will be in our future family) so i would have most likely bought the book.
We've had lots of discussions on how to handle money=goods situations with our children, and i think what we've come up with is that we'll have a conversation ahead of time, about picking out ONE book that they like, keeping it under a certain price, etc.
You can't expect to go into someplace with cool kids stuff and expect them not to want something. So, i guess the decision has to be made before hand about a "plan of action" once inside the store.
i always dread the screaming children at the grocery store who want to throw every sweet thing in their parents' cart. ;)

Stacey said...

Maybe the grandmother didn't want to get the book because it makes all of those noises. Noisy kid stuff is not so fun after the millionth time. Hehehe.

I understand what you mean--I am kind of critical of other parents too. Hard not to be when some situations are just out of control.

Estelle said...

I would not have bought the book. It has nothing to do with money or having duplicate copies (Charlie has SEVERAL books with more than one copy in the house). I simply would not have bought it because it was electronic. Books are not TV, books are books. I HATE battery operated anything and he is VERY limited on his battery powered things (All but one purchased by someone else, I don't buy him battery toys and if they DO have batteries I normally let him play with it until the demo battery dies and then it's just a toy again).
So... I side with Grandma. Maybe for different reasons, maybe not. But I want my child to READ, not hit buttons and have it read to him. If he wants a story read ot him (which he rarely does) he has two mommies who would gladly do the job.

revrose said...

I agree with Amanda,when Wendy was small and we went somewhere, craft fairs for instance, we always told Wendy what amount of money she could spend and let her choose, unless it was something obviously unsafe for a child her age. And we ALWAYS brought toys and snacks with us. It steams me to see parents with small children in restaurants with NOTHING for the child to do for an hour or more or to have child begging for something to eat when out a t a park. I want to say "you're the parents, you should have planned better!". WEndy's MOM