Thursday, May 14, 2015

You are not the center of the universe. You're welcome.

I'm on a bit of a parenting kick - hope you'll enjoy this throwback to May, 2011. This post got a ton of traffic on BlogHer and generated lots of comments. The post may be a few years old but the thoughts included are timeless, if I do say so myself!

On Friday night, Sean and I took Rebecca to see the new Disney documentary African Cats. It was filmed on the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, one of the stops on our Kenyan adventure last summer. We thought it would be neat to be able to say, “We've been there!” Of course, we didn't plan to say it during the movie – that would be rude. Unfortunately, the mother and five-year-old boy behind us had no such misgivings about talking during the movie. And they talked and talked and talked through the entire thing.

I didn't think much of it during the first few minutes. Sometimes it takes a bit to get settled, and if this was the young boy’s first movie, I wanted to cut him and his mom some slack.  But at the 30 minute mark they were still jabbering away.  And for the rest of the move they continued to talk, despite being shushed and asked to stop.

It was clear this mom saw the movie as a learning experience for her son. She explained everything – and I mean everything – to her boy: which lions were the girls, which were the boys, how many cubs mamma cheetah had, what the elephants were doing, why the wildebeest were running through the river, why the daddy lion scared off the mommy lions during feeding time… If it was on the screen, there was an explanation to be had.

Y’all, I’m a homeschool mom. My attitude towards education is that learning can happen anywhere: the grocery store, church, driving down the road. I firmly believe learning should have happened in that movie theater for the little movie-goer behind me. And the lesson should have been, “Movie time is quiet time.”

But that mother felt her son needed to have his questions answered more than he needed to respect the people around him.  His mom did not help him understand the movie theater is not a place for conversation, that talking would disturb his fellow movie watchers. Because in her eyes, answering her son immediately was more important than providing a quiet environment for the rest of the people in the packed theater. 

We are raising a generation of narcissists.

Here’s what I’d like to tell that little boy: Dear, you’ll notice that everyone around you is quiet. That’s because a movie theater is for watching, not talking. All these people around you have paid their money and are expecting to watch the movie in a quiet theater. You need to be respectful of them by being quiet. We’ll talk about your questions afterward. And if you can’t wait, we’ll leave the theater so we can chat without disturbing those around us.

And here’s what I’d like to tell the mom: Have you heard of DVD’s?

(Okay, that’s not all I’d like to tell her, but we’ll leave it at that…)

Parents, the world does not revolve around our children and it is not child abuse to tell them so. We need to teach them that hard truth while they’re still under our roofs. Because if we don't, the real world will come as a mighty big shock to their fragile psyches. And they'll rightly blame us for a gross lack of preparation when life doesn't go their way.

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