Trips to the public library used to be a far more frequent feature when the nutty siblings were younger. Nowadays, they have other sources to quench their thirst for books by way of the school library, the reading centre at school and there are, of course, a number of ebooks on electronic devices.
Their tastes have changed too, with Macadamia having moved on to a completely different genre that her Jurassic mom cannot quite comprehend. She was found talking about fan fiction the other day and to mom, this sounded quite outworldly, truth be told. Mom did try to comprehend the complexity of the said fan fiction but as was expected, had to throw in the towel and switch off mentally. Quite simply put, it was beyond the comprehensive abilities of her Jurassic grey cells.
Pecan, until a couple of years back, used to read non-fiction and non-fiction alone. He could not be bothered with fiction books but over the past year or so, much to the said Jurassic Mom’s delight, he does divide his attention between books to quench both, his thirst for general knowledge by way of non-fiction books and also stretches his imagination by indulging in fiction books.
As such, with both of them having found their own steady book supply sources, trips to the public library have become far and few. The other day, however, we did head to one of the Public Libraries and were greeted by the same chaos and confusion that usually abounds in a public library during the school holidays. With Macadamia and Pecan busying themselves with looking for books they wanted, it left mom with a lot of time to just take in and observe the scenes unfolding in the library which was pretty much like looking at Pompeii as Mt.Vesuvius erupted.
The usual rules of being quiet in the library, being considerate (as in not piling up half the books in the bookshelf onto the table next to you just so that no one else gets to it), not running around yelling like banshees with their tails on fire, not talking into cell phones loud enough to be heard a couple of storeys down etc were apparently things people had just decided to can and throw out of the window. It was pretty much a “no holds barred” scene at the public library. While the kids were running berserk and out of control like Godzillas on a high, the moms were rather precariously perched on those little chairs and stools specifically meant for small kids. They did give the term “spilling over” a whole new meaning.
For just an instant, as the decibels commenced their assault on my auditory senses, I distinctly looked around, just to make sure we were in a library and not the adjacent building which houses the vegetable market. The adults in there did sound like vegetable vendors who were desperate to sell their wares by any means possible.
In the midst of all this confusion, there was this one family – a mom with a little boy, walking around, trying to find some books for him to read. The little boy managed to find a couple of books which was nothing short of a miracle because a large number of picture books had been pulled off the shelves by those few moms who were rather precariously perched on those little seats. This little boy headed towards an empty seat and just as he was about to make himself comfortable, one of the moms took it upon herself to shoo him away rather unceremoniously. When his mom intervened on his behalf, the other moms actually had the gall to say they had reserved those seats for their own kids (who, in the meanwhile, were running around sounding like T-Rex’s on a Red Bull induced high).
The little guy then walked over and sat on the floor between two aisles of books and in a few minutes, looked quite enraptured with the book he was reading. He had one more book with him which he had placed on his lap, with the obvious intention of reading it once he had finished with the first one.
Just then, one of the rambunctious kids walked over and just pulled that book out of the little boy’s lap and sat on one of those chairs which his mom had been “holding”. This little boy, quite unsure of what to do next, had started sniffling by then and went looking for his mother. His mom went over to the other mom and told her that her little boy had rudely snatched the book away from her son and that it was not the right thing to do. The other lady just shrugged it off. That was it. No apologies, no nothing. Neither did she ask her son to return the book that he had snatched away from the other kid. She simply brushed the whole thing off.
Where exactly am I going with this ?
Just that the entire incident raised questions inside my head. Parents have their own ways of bringing up their children and I am not about to pass value judgments on whether they choose to instil values and morals in their children or not. “Each one to one’s own” seems to be the catchphrase of today’s world and that’s that. But the question that kept making its presence felt was this – are some parents, by their sheer inaction, making their kids more street smart?
Generally the instinctive reaction is to tell one’s child not to snatch things from other kids and usually one hears parents saying “you’re supposed to share things with your friends”. To blatantly disregard the situation when one sees one’s child go over and snatch a book from another child when there are so many other books on the table and the shelves for the taking, is something I found quite disturbing. None of those 6-7 moms were perturbed – not one bit. Even when one of the other moms in the library went over to them with her son (who was in tears) in tow, these ladies just shrugged the whole thing off. And the kids were around watching. What kind of a message does that send across to the kids? That it is perfectly OK to behave like this ? That such behavior is totally justified? End of the day, that is the message those children are going to take home and eventually, it is going to become a part of their mindset, it will end up being behaviour that is considered entirely acceptable.
They don’t have to say that in as many words to their kids but the very fact that they chose to say nothing against such behavior – does that not indicate a kind of tacit approval?
Fact remains that even if I did try, I would not be able to condone such behaviour from my kids. There are some things that are acceptable and some things that simply are not. The way those moms were reinforcing a “sense of entitlement” in their kids at the library that day is something most of us would not do.
Are parents – who teach and reinforce values like sharing and teaching children to respect other childrens’ properties and belongings etc, actually putting our kids at a disadvantage in terms of a lack of street smartness ? When they need to hold their own in the midst of a whole group of kids, what kind of a disadvantage are we getting them into, just by reinforcing good values and negating the not so good ones?
A penny for your thoughts ?
Gauri Venkitaraman dons many hats – a wife, a mom, a teacher and many more. Working as a full-time English teacher in HongKong, Gauri also raises and nurtures two terrors, affectionately known as The Nutty Siblings a.k.a Macadamia, a teen and Pecan, the ten-year old who behaves like he is fifteen. Gauri’s family means the world to her. Life is a lively roller coaster ride and we, as a family, aim to enjoy the ride together. http://tiny-tidbits.blogspot.hk/ is where Gauri pens down her thoughts and musings, in an attempt to preserve memories for posterity