Recently I read an article by an entitled New York City mother describing her kid’s rude behavior on a bus, i.e. singing or talking loudly, that treated this rudeness not only as normal, but also as desirable and required other passengers to put up with it without a word of disapproval. She called it teaching her daughter how to be a strong woman. Excuse me? Last time I checked in a dictionary, strong was not a synonym of rude or disrespectful.
All kids should be taught to behave respectfully on public transportation from a very young age. A two year old kid must be able, and in most cultures in the world, is able to react to simple adult commands like “be quiet” or “sit still” and distinguish a bus from a playground. It is important that children learn what they see around them and it is natural to be excited about it, but on a bus, the only form of expressing excitement by adults or children is whispering.
The entitlement of the author goes beyond all possible limits when she suggests that if someone does not like her precious snowflake’s unacceptable behavior, he or she should move to a different part of the bus or get off and take a taxi. No, dear lady, you are seriously wrong. It is not the polite person offended by kid’s rudeness who should get off, it is you, if you do not want to respect other passengers. It is your duty to control your kid ,and if you refuse or fail to do it, it is you who should get off and take a taxi.
Unfortunately in kid-obsessed America, this kind of entitled and selfish behavior of a parent of an ill-mannered kid is not unusual. It is especially noticeable on New York City subway and buses. I witness it day after day, year after year. Children behave outrageously: talk very loudly, scream their lungs off, jump like monkeys or run wild, remain seated while adults, and especially senior citizens, are standing, do not cover coughs and sneezes, slobber the handles all over (no wonder swine flu was spreading so fast in NYC), touch people with dirty, sticky of saliva hands, etc. They are always accompanied by adults, yet these adults not only do nothing to bring their kids to order, but also encourage rudeness, for example, a guy I saw tickling the kid to scream even louder although the actual noise level was already unbearable and unacceptable. Young kids are also brought to public transportation by their irresponsible parents after midnight, which should not happen. Parents sometimes bring kids in strollers, and while on the train, take them out and put them on a separate seat while adults are standing. This is also unacceptable.
Other passengers are afraid to point out kids’ rudeness because entitled, hostile parents harassed them into silence. As if their silence was not enough, I saw people unduly give their seats to 7-10 year old, healthy kids that just a second ago had the energy to run wild.
When the subject of rude children in public places comes up, someone kid-obsessed wanting to direct the conversation to something else usually brings up people who talk loudly on their cell phones in public places. These people just forget to mention that the obnoxious cell phone talkers are these obnoxious, screaming, never disciplined children twenty, thirty, or forty years later, equally disruptive as during their childhood, just in a different way. Their parents failed to teach them respectful behavior in due course and the selfishness and disrespect continues, only the means change. No, someone’s rude behavior on the phone does not authorize someone else’s kid to be disrespectfully loud or jumpy. Both are highly unacceptable. Cell phone talkers should not be used as an excuse.
When I was a kid, children starting in first grade were riding public buses (there were no school buses) alone without accompanying adults. They were required to stand still and quiet. If they failed to comply, any of the adults would reprimand them. Kids’ rudeness did not happen too often, but on those rare occasions when it did happen, other passenger’s order enforcement was immediate and unavoidable.
I have used public transportation in many European and African cities, and I have never seen something like this. What attracted my attention in Europe is that parents keep children away from other passengers whenever possible. For example, when there are two seats next to each other (obviously assuming that there are no adults standing) and one of them is next to a person, the adult takes the later, thus separating the kid from that person, while Americans tend to do the opposite, put the kid next to the person and let it touch and slobber on him or her.
Another interesting point is the privilege of the kid riding free of charge. In many European cities, young children (under 4-6 years old, depending on the system) are not required to pay a fare under the condition that they do not take a separate seat. This tradeoff is very fair, but American parents would obviously want it all – take the privileges without the duties.
Also, it is very rare that a kid is loud, obnoxious, or jumpy on European buses, trams, or subway trains. Kids sometimes try it, but are brought to order in the same second. Sometimes I have seen parents quiet a kid down before it actually starts making any noise, apparently they know the kid, and they know what is coming.
All children, starting from the youngest age, must be taught to behave politely on all kinds of public transportation. They must be required to sit still and quiet; absolutely no screaming. They must give up their seats for adults, especially for senior citizens (with the obvious exceptions of disabled or ill kids), and if there are seats available, sit still and quiet with hands off the mouth, and no touching people. It is the adult’s responsibility to hold the kid and other people should not be burdened by it. It is the adult’s responsibility to keep the kid respectfully quiet, and if he or she fails, anyone should freely require to impose order and respect. Parents should not wait five minutes, or even one minute, to quiet the kid down; they should do it in the same second when it starts making noise other than a whisper. It is the parent’s responsibility to teach their kids the clear difference between a bus and a playground.
Polite people should not remain silent about kids’ rudeness. They should strictly and immediately require parents to discipline the child and to stop the disruption. Long commutes, stressful work environments, very early or very late working hours make subway or bus rides miserable enough. There is no need to put up with ear-piercing screams, singing, or to remain standing while a healthy obnoxious princess is seated. People have a sacred right to defend themselves from kids’ and parents’ rudeness, entitlement, and selfishness and should make use of the right as often as necessary.