What is appropriate, anyway?

21 Jan

I have been looking forward to today for a few weeks.  But its importance has been overshadowed by more recent events, so when I woke up this morning and it was Friday I was thrilled.  I didn’t have HUGE plans, but today was the day I: received a long awaited package in the mail (no, not my necklace, which looks like it won’t be ready for our anniversary after all, too bad…), got to see Bronwyn skate, and got to see Bronwyn’s class perform their french play.

I know, I know- lame.  Although, the fact that I even used the word “lame” should give you some indication of what constitutes fun for me…

The freeze-dried fruit was delicious (my package); Bronwyn’s play was adorable; and, watching 60 4-5 year olds try to skate might be the cutest thing I ever witness in my life.

We arrived at the school with a few minutes to spare, and we took our seats.  Bronwyn was not actually in the play (Poule Maboule), but it was entertaining nonetheless.  After the skit though (which must have featured every SK child who speaks french at home, either that or the French teacher should get a raise) all the kids sang a few songs.  I cannot describe the cuteness.  I am kicking myself for forgetting the camera.  Bronwyn was a star!  She wiggled her hips, and jumped around, and wagged her finger with the sassiest kids.  She sang loudly (the words she knew) and every time she lost her place, she would wave at me from the front row.  When it was all over, after the kids bowed (Bronwyn bowed several times…!) but before anyone could clap, Holly jumped up and said, very loudly, “Bronwyn, you were GREAT!”.  My heart just melted; from pride over my eldest’s accomplishments, to pride over my middle’s selflessness and obvious joy in seeing her sister succeed.

Fast forward an hour or so (lunch with Becky helped pass the time) and we arrive at the arena to “help” with the skating.  I packed the kids in the stroller (along with more fruit snacks!) and we headed toward the school to meet up with the kids.  They were all so happy!  It was a beautiful day, only -10 or so, with a sunny sky and no wind.  I got Bronwyn’s skates on, and turned to help a few more kids.  We got out to the rink and I surreptitiously glanced around to see what everyone else is doing.  Ok to go on the ice without skates?  Check.  Ok to bring the stroller out on the ice?  Seems so.  With Holly pushing Joss in the stroller, I am free to hold Bronwyn’s hand.  She only accepted my help until she spied Mrs. Shields.  She slipped, and slid headlong across the ice until her head crashed against the teacher’s foot raced towards her teacher.  I watched as Mrs. Shields patiently showed Bronwyn how to get up by pushing off her knee.  For the rest of the hour, she put this new skill to good use.  After only 10 minutes or so, she abandoned the bar that is helping her stay upright, and goes off on her own.  She was on her bum more than her feet, but like she told my mom later that night: “I fell a lot, but when I wasn’t falling, I was skating perfectly”.  And to quote another child that afternoon: “why are her snowpants so wet?”.  She had a great time.  Holly too.  Who used my inattention to race around the rink (in her boots) sliding on her stomach and shrieking with laughter.

Which brings me to my point: what is appropriate behaviour for my other kids in this kind of situation?

Holly was having fun.  She wasn’t sliding into people.  She wasn’t using the kids’ resources.  But, she was there, and trying to fit in, and, I don’t know… I didn’t pay for her.  She isn’t in school.  Are the other parents whispering behind my distracted back that she-should-not-be-here-with-those-hooligans-she-calls-children-doesn’t-she-know-any-better-that-isn’t-what-we-do-here…?

I don’t think my kids are obnoxious.  I don’t think I am one of those oblivious parents whose kids race around restaurants ruining other diner’s dinners, or yell loudly during concerts, or who take up so much attention that it would be easier if I wasn’t there.  I have let them dance in the aisles at a church musical.  I have let them run amok at an outdoor concert.  But aren’t these appropriate venues for this sort of behaviour?  And does an arena filled with Kindergartners fall under the same heading?  It is hard because, presumably, if parents thought their actions were inappropriate, they’d stop.  But what if they just don’t realize?  And what if I am not realizing?!

Quote of the Day:

Me: Who had fun, raise your hand!

Look in the mirror to find 2/3 children fast asleep and the third waving her hand frantically.

Bronwyn: Me, I did, me, your daughter, Bronwyn, the one who skated all by herself, in case you were wondering…

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2 Responses to “What is appropriate, anyway?”

  1. greenandfrugalsamanda January 21, 2011 at 10:37 pm #

    I think that no matter what we do, there is the chance that someone will think it’s inappropriate. Some people believe children should be seen and not heard.
    As a parent, I try to teach my children to be respectful when we are out in various venues. I try to teach them to not physically cling on other children (not everyone WANTS to be hugged), and to not scream and run wildly in places that it just wouldn’t be respectful. HOWEVER, there are many times I allow them to do that too…like after church. Some would say letting my child run around in church is horrible, but if you were 3 and your parents were talking away for a good half hour after church, wouldn’t YOU be bored out of your mind? And if people are going to judge me for that, most likely they either A) don’t have kids, or B) are too old to remember what it’s like to have small kids.
    If anything, I struggle with expecting too much out of my three year old in public. I worry what others might think. If she doesn’t listen to her Sunday School teacher and I see it, it completely stresses me out. But…that’s when it becomes more about me, which is silly. SHE’S THREE!!!Three year olds tend to have disobedient moments…and the SUNDAY school teacher can handle it as long as it isn’t getting out of control. Those are the times I have to stop worrying about what people are going to say or think about me when my child isn’t perfect in public.
    Bottom line, people are going to judge, regardless with what we do with our children. I imagine you are doing a fine job.

  2. Erin January 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    Well put Amanda!

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