Thursday, February 10, 2011

free parenting class

Every day when I ride the subway, I learn something about parenting. Ian and I ride the subway in to work in the morning together, and there are always parents with their kids on their way to school or daycare in the morning. Most often times, it’s uneventful to watch. The parents and kids get on, ride for a few stops and then exit the train. However, sometimes, they put on quite the show.

Take yesterday for instance. A man got on with his two young children; I’m guessing the girl was four, and the boy was 5 or 6. He was talking loudly to them; way louder than necessary, and it seemed like he wanted everyone on the train to be paying attention to what he was saying. It worked I guess; I heard every word. Mostly, he was just kind of weird, but the cringe-worthy exchange came a couple of stops before the end of their ride. He was fixing the daughter’s coat, to bundle her up more tightly. She actually looked like she was bundled up just fine, but whatever. Anyway, he opened up her coat, and saw that she had a sweatshirt on that was v-neck. He said to her (very loudly) “Now Lola, this is not a good sweatshirt to wear on a day like this. See? It goes too low in the front, and you won’t stay warm enough.” Ok, I guess that makes sense. However, she’s FOUR, and I highly doubt if she’s dressing herself, that she’s also checking the weather forecast beforehand. Then Lola goes on to explain her choice of clothing that day. “Well, these are my only sweats. Well, actually these are my favorite sweats. I like them because they have a princess crown on the front.” Sounds reasonable to me, Lola! But your dad clearly had different feelings about the situation. Instead, he said, “Well, Lola, that makes you shallow. Do you know what shallow is?” Lola just looked at him, and didn’t respond. Probably best, Lola. Your dad sounds like a douche, and probably can’t be reasoned with.

Other times, I see things like parents reading books to their kids on the way home, to keep them occupied. Cute, right? Yes, most of the time. Unless the parent decides to read the book in their most dramatic, loud, voices possible, with big gestures and lots of flair. Now, I’m not saying this isn’t a fun way to read a book, but during rush hour on the subway in New York, it’s not the most pleasant thing to listen to. However, many times they just are reading the book quietly to their kids, or helping them with their homework, and it’s very sweet.

What I see a lot of, however, is parents that just let their kids do whatever they want on the subway. Run up and down the train, swing on the poles, climb on the seats, and yell loudly. Sometimes these parents just ignore the kids (and the annoyed passengers around them), and sometimes they occasionally yell at them. Yelling at them usually doesn’t work though, as they say things like “you need to stop that right now!” but then go back to what they were doing, with no follow through. The very worst, is when I see kids barely misbehaving, or just doing regular “kid” things, and their parents yelling at them at the top of their lungs, grabbing them, swatting them; just being horrible for no apparent reason.

I do see a lot of great parents on the subway, with really sweet, well-behaved kids. Unfortunately, however, these aren’t the ones you remember. It has taught me a lot, though. Oh, I still have a WHOLE lot to learn, but watching some of these parents sure makes me realize how I DON’T want to do things.

I just hope poor Lola doesn’t remember what her dad said. Hey, if those princess sweats make you happy, Lola, more power to ya and your four year old self!



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