Sunday, March 13, 2011

Come on, Mom

Hey, mom, do you really think it’s a good idea to take your nine year old to the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Downtown Albany? If there’s ever a single no-kids-allowed day, when people are going to get wasted in epic numbers, it would be that day and at that location. I just do not understand the thinking of a parent who brings their kid to someplace like that, where 10,000 people are getting loaded.

In case you hadn’t heard, in addition to the titanic number of people who populated the streets of downtown yesterday and poured in and out of the bars, there was a riot near Hudson Street in the city, where people were basically pounded to a drunken pulp by a mob of college-aged SUNY thugs, and property was detroyed all over the street after Kegs & Eggs ended. Did you just read what I wrote? A riot! When asked by Channel 9 news crews about the incident, one greened-out mother, holding her 5 year old, said she brings her kid to events like this then talks to him about how some people make good decisions and others make bad decisions. Huh? In the background, people were passing in packs, alcohol in hand, ready to let it fly. Yeah, mom, good place for junior.

First off, I’ve been to about a dozen parade days in Albany. Contrary to popular belief it is not a family event, regardless of how many fire trucks and marching bands come down State Street. It’s Woodstock with shamrocks and tall green hats. The mayor himself goes to McGeary’s and gets tipping. In my time, I’ve probably seen about 100 fights at or around this event. When I have kids, no way they’ll be down there on that day. I don’t care if it’s my tradition or something I’ve always liked to do. When kids enter the equation, all the rules change. If you’re a parent who had their kid down there yesterday, I really don’t know what in God’s name you were thinking. Stay home. Be a parent.

Maybe I just don’t understand this contemporary style of parenting. I really do believe that there are certain things and certain places a young person shouldn’t be. Case and point: Recently I was enjoying a nice dinner out at an Italian restaurant. It was late and it looked like a few of the regulars and/or people that owned the place had gathered to get some drinks and enjoy each other’s company. In the middle of all this 10.00PM adult time, a 12 year old girl was being allowed to rant, and carry on, and hold court in a really over-the-top way. It was endless in-your-face raving about how she would only accept a Lamborghini on her 16th birthday, and how she was going to Harvard, because she’d already been accepted to the college, and how she’d grown 5 inches in one year, before going around the entire room to measure herself against every single adult present. This went on and on and on. Never once did an adult/parent sit this child down or usher her off stage. Instead, an adult sent this child to the bar to get her (the adult’s) drink refilled.

My point: Children don’t always need to be the center of attention. There can be kid time and then there can be adult time. Children should be able to grow up and as time passes slowly be assimilated into adult situations, at the proper age and time. That’s how respect is established. If children are treated like adults too early they feel entitled and then never come to respect any adult. They consider themselves to be equal. Nobody wants to listen to a 7th grader carry on about Harvard and $200,000 cars at 10.00PM. It was unbearable. I had our dinners wrapped prematurely, paid the bill, and left. Enough was enough already.

I’m not ragging on anybody or making blame, but I feel uncomfortable when children are put in unnatural settings, whether it be the St. Pat’s Parade or something like the scene I just described. Today at the YMCA, I saw a five year old on a treadmill, with an I-Pod in, while a line of grown people were waiting to work out. On the next machine, her mother worked out, walking on the treadmill in 3-inch high heels. A treadmill in heels? I guess that’s the kind of thinking that would allow a child to hog a machine in an adult workout room with people waiting. If you think about it, isn't that kind of a watered-down version of those insane baby beauty pageants? A five year old on a treadmill, I mean . . . with an I-Pod in? And we all think that's disgusting, right (the baby pageants)? Doesn’t anybody else think this approach leads to huge and premature levels of entitlement in children? There has to be some hint of mystery about the adult world to make children respect those who inhabit it, right?

Maybe I’ll have a different attitude when I’m a parent. But I can’t imagine my child would have this kind of all-access pass to the places and events of my life. Parenting is everything, and if we as a society are interested in young people who understand respect, and the art of earning it, maybe this approach to child raising isn’t the right one. I don’t know. I could be wrong.

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Brian Huba

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