Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Unrealistic expectations?

When my parents were here recently we brought them to the kids' school for an evening social event. People were sitting in the gym, talking and having a snack, so we came in and joined them.

At one end of the gym a group of very noisy and rambunctious little boys were playing, running, throwing bean bags or something like them, and generally making a racket. A HUGE racket. Like, we can barely carry on a conversation because of the noise kind of racket.

I asked a couple of them, gently and kindly, if they could maybe settle down and play a little more quietly because people were talking. They agreed and immediately ran back and recommenced with the hijinks.

Once the parents (who up to this point were mixed amongst the crowd and unidentifiable) finished their snacks, they (4 of them) wandered over to near where their kids were raising hell. There they stood, for more than half an hour, looking vastly amused at the havoc their children were creating. "Awww, isn't that cute? Little Jimmy just about hit that grandmotherly woman in the head with his flying projectile! Someday that kid's gonna be a great quarterback!"

I know they were there for more than half an hour because, while my family (including my horrified and completely annoyed parents) went outside (where, may I point out, outside voices are allowed, nay, encouraged, to be used), I stayed inside, waiting for the principal to get done talking to another set of parents.

When I finally had the chance, I explained that while we are happy with the school, the impression we had given my parents that evening was not what I would have liked. That kids can be made to understand that some behaviors are okay in the gym during gym class, but not at other times (like when the gym is serving as a social venue or a cafeteria). That even very small children can understand this. That setting limits can, in fact, be a good thing. That teaching children to be courteous to others will not damage their delicate psyches. That encouraging active parenting by saying, "Hey, since you are done eating, would you mind taking your kids out the playground, since the weather is gorgeous, it's still light out, and they can run and scream all they'd like out there?" is not out of line. That it was going to be difficult to convince my parents that their grandchildren attend anything other than a glorified zoo.

Not only did the principal pooh-pooh my comments, making excuses for both the parents and their ill-bred little buffoons, but another parent came up to me and when I mentioned my issue to her, she quickly volunteered to bring her bullwhip next time to whip those kids into shape. Bitch.

So. I am asking you: do I have unrealistic expectations? Is it too much to ask kindergarten age boys to behave like humans? Is it too much to ask that parents act like parents, not like teenagers who are amused at the antics of their younger siblings? How should I have handled it?


  1. I could definitely see my son as one of those kids who were making the racket. I would have been mortified at my lack of parenting skills and gotten out of there as quickly as possible. I know it's often unrealistic to expect my son to stay quiet and well-behaved for a long period of time in that sort of situation...especially if he had been behaving at school all day prior to that.

    But like I said, I would feel terrible about his behavior and leave as soon as I could.

  2. I have 3 boys. Of course I can see my kids acting that way; I have seen my kids act that way a thousand times. The difference is that I would have admonished them and if the behavior continued would have removed them from the situation. The playground is right outside, and there was no reason they couldn't have played out there, even without parental supervision, for a few minutes. They are only kids being kids; the parents, IMO, should have been embarrassed for allowing (and worse, being openly amused by) the offensive behavior.

  3. Preach it sis-tah. I agree with you whole-heartedly. There are many a time when I am thinking the exact thing. WTF? Why can't these parents keep a little control...there are other people in this world who don't enjoy getting the back of their plane seat kicked or have paid a babysitter so they can go out and enjoy themselves for an evening without the hubbub from a bunch of ankle biters. Seriously. I. Do. Not. Understand. Do you live in a vacuum, that you do not understand that I don't need to fear fro my safety because your kids are "having fun?"

    And the Principal? I think not. As a Principal you A. have some decorum with each parent you are talking to and try and meet their needs based on safety of the children and families and education. B. a good principal knows how to have fun but still maintains a sense of fear/discipline at all times.

    I am appalled. I am writing a letter! :)

  4. The principal is wrong. Were the projectiles provided by the school or brought by the throwers? If the school provided them, that would be an error in judgment on their part. Usually when I have similar events with groups like the Girl Scouts, there are older girls there to entertain the younger ones so the adults can talk about adult stuff. It's win-win because the older girls need to do service hours. Everyone's happy.

    I don't think your expectations are too high.