April 24, 2013

New meaning to Children Should Be Seen but Not Heard

     The phrase Children Should Be Seen and Not Heard dates back to 1450.  This opinion was actually recorded in a collection of homilies attibuted to an Augustian clergyman in Mirk's Festival:
A mayde schuld be seen, but not herd.
Who would imagine over 600 years later this concept would still be continued? IF I had not seen it multiple times in play this past weekend I wouldn't believe it myself.

     i guess I was fortunate as I truly don't remember my father saying this phrase to me while growing up.  He encouraged conversations and was interested in my thoughts.  Table Manners were something very important in my house and I assure you we were never shushed away so grown-ups could talk.
     What I witnessed this weekend was not parents actually telling their children to be quiet but rather distracting them so they didn't even have to engage them in the first place,
    Scenario #1  Food Shopping
     Let's be honest food shopping with young children doesn't rank high as a favorite activity on most parent's lists.  Often there's a trade-off of Dad watching the kiddos at home while Mom hits the grocery store.  Then there's those who choose to make it a family expedition, which quite often turns into everyone needing naptime upon returning home.
     I guess I'm officially part of the older generation as I would never think of using technology to entertain my child while hubby and I were food shopping.  We were standing at the Deli counter ordering subs when the young couple pushed the child friendly "race car" shopping cart next to us.  I first thought their little boy, who looked to be maybe three, was asleep he was so quiet.  Then I noticed that he was holding Mom's iPhone and had earphones plugged in.  They had cued up Peter Pan for him to watch while food shopping.  I don't know why but this really bothered me.
   I had 3 kids under the age of 5, lived out of state with no family around for drop in help, never had the kids in daycare so I KNOW how hard food shopping with little ones can be.  I can remember planning out my shopping trip so I could get in an out as quickly as possible, no looking around like I do today.  Most of the super markets didn't even have child friendly shopping carts, let alone one that could sit two or more run any chance they can kids.  But we managed.  We also engaged our kids.  Even if they were sitting in the basket looking at a book or trying to find the matching coupon we didn't tune them out, and I guess that is what I saw these parents doing.  In all fairness I have no clue what their family dynamics are however the way the child was manipulating the iPhone you knew this wasn't the first movie he's watched while Mom was shopping.
     Scenario #2 Restaurants
     We have all experienced a dinner where someone's child just about ruined the evening.  You know the story, a family two or three tables over are letting their kids run around the table while they're eating away blind to the fact their offspring nearly knocked your drink over.  Better yet where you wish you could order ear plugs because mom and dad refuse to acknowledge that their crying baby can actually be heard by all the other diners.
     Once again technology has quieted the child so it is only seen.  We were waiting on our food when the young family sat down next to us.  I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover buy this child reeked of being spoiled.  We had all been up at 530 had 2 more hours of drive ahead of us, we were not in the mood for any misbehaved brat.  Well my fears were completely erased.  Before the waitress even took their drink order Mom whipped out an iPad, propped it open, gave Missy the headphones and we never heard a peep. In fact if you didn't see that there was a little girl sitting at the table you would have thought Mom and Dad were out for the night childless.
     Scenario #3 Cars
     I am probably in the minority on this one but I enjoy and have always enjoyed the time in my car with the kids.  Granted there were those days driving home after teaching and I was ever so happy they were crashed in their car seats but mostly I savor those moments.  As they're older I appreciate the captive audience that they are.
     I'll be the first to buy the creator of portable tv/dvd devices a drink.  I can't imagine travelling long distance without one.  However prior to that we used books on tape and other car games to get through the long hours in the car.   Heaven forbid today's kids entertain themselves with crayons, card games or dare I say it, their imaginations.
     While in the parking lot the other day I heard a Mom praying out loud that she hoped there was enough time left on the movie to keep Massy quiet until they get  home.  Judging by the elementary sticker she had on her car they couldn't live more than 10/15 minutes away.  Again I get it, you've just been shopping at the Box store. You're tired, looks like you didn't time the trip right so your toddler's tired and whiney.
    I guess what I am getting at is through technology we've shut our kids up.  We're dressing them up and taking them out but only if we have some sort of device available to keep them quiet and out of our hair.  What are we teaching them?  Do they really have to be constantly beseiged by cartoons,  music or some other "mind stimulating" app that you just downloaded?
     Are we training our kids to only engage us if nothing else if available?  Or rather the filp side of that: We'll engage them when we've run out of gizmos to put in their hands?
I love the caption!! from geekmecca.com

     Then again I'm the woman who goes to animated movies to enjoy the sounds the children around me are making.  Yeah, it's official I'm old fashioned.
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