I have just one final essay inspired by our recent vacation.
Cruising seems to be the new family thing to do. I say this because our cruise featured something that was, for us, very unexpected: hundreds of children.
I’m sure this is good news for a lot of parents out there considering a cruise vacation. Most cruise lines have some ships that cater to kids, and Mr. Ashbury and I somehow, (through no fault or plan of our own), ended up on one of those.
This particular cruise line has teamed up with Nickelodeon to provide a kids program that I have heard is quite entertaining. Among the attractions for the younger set, were Dora the Explorer and Sponge Bob Square Pants, and Sponge Bob’s pal, Patrick! My two youngest grandchildren were more than a little bit jealous when they found out we sailed with some of their favourite characters.
I spend a lot of time with those two youngest grandkids of mine, as I take care of them when mom is working. They stay overnight some nights, and I get them up for school. We’ve been experimenting with hot breakfast cereals and so far, they like them all. When mom comes off the night shift, she arrives in time to take over, and takes them to school. When mom works days, I do the honors of taking them to school, and then we have them for dinner those nights, too.
So you can believe me when I say to you, I like children. But I like well behaved, well mannered children.
I thought I understood the way parenting had changed during the last generation. For all that our second daughter is a single mom, she manages to keep her two involved and busy in sports and extra, organized activities. Our eldest and his wife, when their children were younger, were parents whose every bit of leisure time was filled with their children’s sports and recreational activities.
Their oldest played hockey and baseball, their second son played soccer and joined a chess club, and their daughter played soccer and baseball, attended singing camp, and now is involved in cheerleading. Getting a chance to see this growing, active family was difficult, because they were always so busy! And when they vacation, while they’ve never experienced a cruise, they vacation as a family, together.
They’ve been to the Caribbean twice and Disney World once and they go camping every year.
Perhaps because they spent so much time together, I can attest to the fact that when my grandchildren were small, and as they matured, their behaviour out and about in public was well mannered and well-disciplined.
I just assumed that was the way of modern families.
During our cruise, I got to see another side of modern parenting—the side that has as its credo, “here’s some cash, kid, now go away”. This type of parent appears to believe, “I paid for this cruise so therefore my kids can do whatever the hell they like, as long as they are not bothering me.”
Now, some children were well behaved and under the supervision of their parents; but there seemed to be a lot who were running wild and loud, and who didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong with pushing past people to get to wherever they wanted to be.
Please be proud of me, I resisted the urge to use my cane as a weapon. Oh, no, I wouldn’t have hurt the children. It was the parents I wanted to bash.
Perhaps I’m different from most folks. I don’t like to see parents knocking back alcohol when they have their small children with them. How vigilant can mom and dad be if they have a few beers, or a few shots, flowing through their bloodstreams?
And what would ever make an adult think it was fine that their child could shove their way through a crowd of people, push every button on the elevator, or have a screaming fit and throw food that lands on others?
There was a family in the cabin next to us, a mom and a dad with two children. Just about every single night, the kids whined, and had temper tantrums over something. Please understand me, as far as I am concerned this is not the kids’ fault. Their parents allowed them to behave this way. In fact, in the case of this family, they encouraged it by example, for when the kids were in bed, the parents seemed to do nothing but fight—out on the balcony, presumably so the kids wouldn’t hear them. Did they think that because there was a partition on either side of them that they had privacy on their balcony? Hello, big ship here, thousands of people on board—and people on either side of you, with balconies of their own.
I wish I could give advice to these parents. I know exactly what I’d say. I’d tell them that I know raising children is hard work. I know how tiring it can be to have more than one young one at a time – we had three. But you’re not doing anyone any favours when you wash your hands of your parental responsibility and give up by screaming and yelling at them, or letting the little ones run free.
What you’re actually doing is not only causing irreparable harm to your children; you’re causing harm to society, too.