How should we control our kids in public?

Posed photo of a girl crying and someone pointing a finger at her.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

I was at a restaurant the other night with my family. It was a long weekend and we were at this place where after 10 p.m, you'd expect no kids to be around. But there was one child sitting outside with his family.

I have no problems with children. For one, I have two of my own.

Secondly, I love seeing cute kids and if I'm lucky, being able to get a cute smile or giggle from them. Babies are the best! I go out of my way to make a fool of myself making stupid faces so I can get a toothless baby smile or best of all, a baby chuckle!

This child though, the one at the restaurant, wasn't a baby.

He was around two or three years old. I didn't mind him until he started practicing this high-pitched scream as he explored the interiors-high-pitched two-second shrill sounds emanating from his tiny mouth that felt like 10,000 pinpricks on my already Metallica-at-level-10-volume-destroyed eardrums.

Maybe it was just me, I thought, but then I looked around the table and my two grown daughters were grimacing as well at the ear-splitting sounds.

His mom or his caregiver, I wasn't sure which, was following him around while these horrendous screams emanated from him intermittently. I do not understand why it seemed perfectly okay with her for him to do this.

These noises, I would expect a child to do in a park, outside or maybe in his own home, but not in a small enclosed space where people wanted to relax and enjoy their dinner.

Once the child had examined all four corners of the room, and to the relief of most everyone in the restaurant, he went back outside to sit down (quietly!) with the rest of his family.

This is not the first time I've observed this kind of behaviour-of the adult, not the child.

I once sat in a FamilyMart and had my quick merienda while this five-year-old child a) kicked my chair repeatedly from behind b) threw bags of unopened chips which he had gathered from the shelves on the floor, and c) cried horrendously loud whenever his mother would try to get him out of my sight.

I eventually had to turn around, look him straight in the eye and say, "STOP kicking my chair. I am getting dizzy."

His mom FINALLY grabbed him muttering, "Hala ooh, nagagalit na yung babae. Susumbong ka niya sa guard. Lagot ka."

(The lady is getting mad. She's going to tell the guard what you're doing. You're in trouble!) I don't really know why it had to be me to call his attention when she should have done it in the first place.

What I don't get is why parents and caregivers allow such children to disturb other people's peace and quiet without calling their attention or bringing them elsewhere. Is it supposed to be our privilege to hear these little cuties?

There was a story once that circulated on social media about a famous movie director who told off this couple whose baby was making a ruckus inside the restaurant he was having a meeting in.

When I read this, the director's reaction to their baby's crying did sound harsh (especially since the post was written by the couple in question) but after these incidents, I am seeing why this director may have busted a gut.

Funny thing is someone also told me off about keeping my kids in check many years ago.

I actually wanted to punch her face in because she said it in the rudest way-I mean they were so cute-but in hindsight, two little kids screaming at each other from one end of the park to the other while people were praying the Stations of the Cross is a good reason to tell the kids' parents off (although the other child was my nephew, they both were in our care). Lesson learned!

Parents of kids who misbehave in public or are overly noisy, please have consideration for others in the vicinity.

Children are really a joy to have, to hold and to simply observe from near or far but it is so not our responsibility to have to endure their public misbehavior.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.


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