I watch morning TV once every 5 years. This morning on the Today Show some “manners” dude expressed that parents should remove their children from public spaces if they cry more than a minute. He could use a lesson from the Italians, who were 100%, without fail, incredibly kind, sympathetic and even helpful with our 18 month old cry baby.
I agree there is an occasional restaurant where I would like to go in the later evening and not listen to crying kids, and there are plenty of places in a church or at a concert where one can hang out with a crying baby so everyone can hear. However, the example he gave was the grocery store. The time he suggested was ONE MINUTE. What, pray tell, does he suggest we do with our children when we need groceries? And where do I go with my crying baby when I’m at a restaurant and its zero degrees outside? And are there really adults out there who believe children should only exist in homes and schools and parks until they act like adults? I believe we have the capacity to to be intelligent, discerning, thoughtful, happy people who understand 1) sometimes our need for quiet is a priority, and 2) sometimes kids act like kids, and 3) babies are a gift.
The last time I went to a restaurant we asked to be relocated because the adults at the table next to us were so rowdy we couldn’t hear each other. 100 times a day I am disgusted by adults. You are too if you stop to think about it. Today there were boogers inside my locker in the YMCA women’s locker room. Today someone honked at me for stopping for the humans in the crosswalk. Today a plane flew low over my house at 6AM and woke us all up and guess what, an adult scheduled that plane. Today a guy’s fart in my exercise class stunk so badly I gagged. And its noon! Adults shoot each other, steal from each other, and fight with each other. Our elected officials can’t get along well enough to pass laws. The CDC says 57% of adults don’t wash their hands after using the restroom. Adults hurt kids. Yet, we persist that babies and children should act more like adults or be left at home. Most of them have better manners than most of us. Children are delightful, expressive, and incredibly tolerant of us awful adults. And needless to say, the world would cease to exist without them and their parents.
In Italy, when my Wes cried at a restaurant, someone having dinner in that restaurant would turn around and smile at him. A few times, honestly, some lovely grandfatherly beautiful graceful man would just come pick him up and parade him around. Waiters brought him cookies. I swear to you he never cried for more than 30 seconds the entire time we were in that country. And when we came home, as strangers approached he would smile in anticipation of their smiles or words or generosity. I can’t tell you how heart breaking it was to watch his confusion as they ignored him, or glared at him or gave me nasty advice as they passed by. Wilder just said this to me as I was here writing and its so pertinent I find it spooky. “Mama, what do you wish for?” “For people to get along. For happiness.” He replied, “if you like me, you’ll get happiness. That’s how easy it is. Just like me and then you’ll have happiness all over your body.” People, its really that easy. I challenge you, next time you hear a baby crying at a restaurant, instead of rolling your eyes at the parents and glaring at the child, pick up your napkin and play peekaboo. Smile at him. Just try it. The difference between feeling angry at that baby and tolerating that baby might actually be within you!