There we were, sitting in a favorite local restaurant, perusing the menu and sipping our hot wonderful coffees. There was a family in a booth close to us. The mother, looking haggard and worse for wear was bouncing a happy baby on her lap while her husband was trying to keep their three year old occupied. Their food comes just as we begin to order our split BLT sandwich.
The family eats in peace for about 5 minutes; the parents feeding the baby as they go and reading the newspaper spread out before them. The boy quietly slips out of his chair. One of the servers has begun to feed the fish in the aquarium, so naturally the boy is more interested in the live fish swimming around than the breaded dead ones he’s supposed to be eating for lunch.
Our food arrives and by our second bite, the kid is running around the restaurant, toppling over water glasses on clean tables and unrolling cutlery from napkins. He’s completely free of restraint while his parents occasionally try to reign him in. He ignores their quiet pleas and runs from table to table with a HotWheels car yelling about this and that.
Suddenly, the parents jump up out of the booth, quite obviously at the end of their ropes with their embarrassingly unruly child. They pull out the threats… ‘going home’, etc. Actually, that’s all the cards that they had. There was no etcetera necessary because it was very apparent that the boy DID NOT want to go home. He began crying and his quivering lips promised he’d be good and sit and eat and…
Their server comes by to pick up their half uneaten food and the boy’s full plate of food. “Guess you’ll be wanting this packed up then.”
“Yes, he didn’t eat a thing. Everyone else at the table was eating, but he was…” The father’s voice trailed off.
As they were walking out, their sever walked by our table, casually muttering something about “these days” and “parents have no rights anymore.” She actually sighed as she began to clean up the dirty mess at the family’s vacated booth.
In my opinion the kid wasn’t a perfect little angel but he wasn’t the next serial killer in the making either. One could plainly see that the boy was only taking liberty with the boundaries that his parents had let him overstep. “I wonder whatever happened to the days when a parent could haul her misbehaving child off the washroom for a light spank and a stern talking to.” I said to the lady I was dining with.
“Yeah. And whatever happened to the days when you could haul your kids off to the car, shove them in the backseat to romp around all they wanted so you could sit in the front, light up a smoke and relax about the whole thing.” My mum replied.