Today I took the children to the library. It was teaming with children in the children's section. Children's story time starts a little later and many parents bring their children in before hand so they can drop off and pick up books. Normally it's at this time that it's loud. After story time began, my children opted out (the story time is for preschoolers and neither one of them really are although we were invited). Instead they were engaging in imaginative play with puppets and play structure inside the children's section.
Our library is quite small. The children's section is at the entrance and is separated from the teens and adult sections by computers.
My children are quite exuberant as boys often are. There's also a saying that says you know you are a parent of an autistic if you child is sensitive to loud noises, but he is the loudest person you know. HB doesn't know his own volume and neither does his younger brother when he's trying to edge into HB's imaginative world.
They were playing. So I sat in a chair on one side of the tall structure. On the opposite side sat a teenage volunteer reading a book. He was manning the summer reading program. Neither he nor the librarians bustling about said anything. After the children's section was mostly empty, the boys were still playing at the structure. And a little while later I heard an old lady remark "those boys are so loud and no parent either." I'm not sure what the teenager thought. He said nothing. He might of looked up and then went back to reading his book.
The remark bothered me. It wasn't because I was sitting right there and she simply couldn't see me. So in fact she was wrong. No, I had to unpack why, it stung. And I realized that it was this kind of attitude that has changed society.
You see back in this lady's day I bet she went to the library alone. I bet she walked with her siblings to the library. And I bet what's more if she had children, they also probably walked to the library alone. Now if a parent allows a child to walk to the library alone or the park, CPS and the authorities involve themselves. The parent is labeled neglectful.
The reason why is because the older generation, which enjoyed having the freedom of walking to libraries as a child without parents, thinks that younger generations shouldn't allow that to happen. My generation feels the enormous pressure of having to have eyes glued to the back of their heads. This is why we have so much technology these days geared toward parents like baby monitors with video.
And this reaps negative consequences. Exuberant boys aren't allowed to be exuberant. They aren't given that independence and the experience to handle small crisis. Instead boys are supposed to be quiet and sit in front of screens for hours to appease the mass of people (not just older people but younger ones as well). Or they are to be locked into camps with someone to watch them constantly because 10 year olds aren't deemed old enough to stay at home alone and be bored. (I found it weird that there were a couple of pubescent girls in the day care program the school runs. Why?)
We live in a country where it is safer for children than any previous generation. So that's a poor excuse to keep children locked in doors during the summer.
This is what bothers me about her remark. It's completely hypocritical. Why should she expect more from my generation and my children that wasn't expected from her generation or from her children?
Lady, you are the reason why my children are in the library with their mother whooping it up over puppets. If you don't like it, then stop making such remarks. Who cares if they are alone? It's a library; it's summer. Where on earth do you think they should be?