Story Time (A Minor Rant)

Angel Face and I have been going to Story Time twice a week at the bookstore.

I thought it would be a gentle, non-threatening way to introduce her to the company of a group of children around her age – something (else) completely new to her.

Here’s how it works: Moms, Grandmas, and a few Dads, here and there, gather in the back of the store with their young charges, who range in age from two to about five. Everyone stakes out a spot on one of the chid-sized benches or the floor. The Delightful Ms. Lyn comes in at 10:30am, does some stretching, foot-stomping, get-your-wiggles-out stuff with the kids, then reads three age appropriate stories (15 minutes, approximately). Then she has a craft project for them.

The End.

(Here’s where the Rant comes in)

Now, I’ll admit, it’s been more than a few years since I spent time in the company of toddlers and their parents, but not that many years…Exactly when did it become an accepted practice to ply your children with snacks to get them to sit still for a short while?

The moment these kids get out of their winter coats, the snack bags come out of the purse. They munch and crunch the entire (short) time. And, no, Samantha’s Mom, I don’t care if those are organic marshmallows, or carrot sticks, or Teddy Grahams or Goldfish or whatever!

What are you teaching these kids about food? Or, for that matter, about basic behavior?

“Mom says stay put. That means a treat.”

“Mom says Shhh! That means a snack.”

Instead of “Sit still, and listen, or we will have to leave early.” Instead of, “Because that’s how we behave in public. That’s why.” We have, “Shhh! Here. Have a cookie.”

Seriously? Are you the same people ranting about Childhood Obesity, and claiming it’s all the fault of Evil Advertising and Ronald McDonald?

Here’s the deal, Younger Parents and Grannies Who Can’t Be Bothered To Discipline: When you feed a child, whether it’s a meal or a snack, make that the ONLY thing you are doing at that moment. No television. No toys. Certainly not while someone else is speaking, reading, singing or otherwise performing in public… Don’t let them develop the Mindless Eating habit. (You know, that’s the one that makes you say things to yourself like, “Hey! Didn’t I just open this bag of chips? The game’s only half over…”)

They’ll thank you for it later.

Oh, and while we’re talking about feeding kids, how ’bout growing some food with them?

We ARE in a book store, after all…

NOTE: There are supposed to be more photos to go with this, but they don’t seem to be arriving in my in-box from my phone…If they ever emerge from the ether, I’ll add them in.

Or, I’ll take more at the next Story Time…

Note #2: She LOVES Story Time!




35 thoughts on “Story Time (A Minor Rant)

  1. I don’t have much room to talk (because I don’t have kids), but is it just me or are kids these days ALL pretty well spoiled and – I don’t know – “sissy-fied”? What I mean by that is when I was a kid, I would go out, explore, get dirty, etc. and learn things. I seldom see kids leave their video games these days. And spoiled from lack of discipline. Anyway, just my own observations. And I’m not implying ALL kids are like this either, but I notice it a lot around here.

    • Nate, if a young, single guy notices, then there is an issue.
      I was a go-get-dirty kid, and so were my children, who are all in their 20’s now. I fully intend for the Munchkin to be the same, and for her to have the same manners that got rave reviews for her Aunts and Uncle when they were little…
      Thanks for your comment…hang around, there’s bound to be some comic material soon 😉

  2. I have to say I agree with you about that, and I could rant for ages myself, like why is it ok for children to butt in whenever they want and why are their parents telling them to wait, someone else is speaking. Since when it is more important for a parent to be friends with their children? I hate it when parents or mums say things like I don’t like to see them upset, I say, get over it, they have to learn those emotions to understand how to accept and get through. I totally understand why suicide in young people is on the up, because they never learn the life skills of disappointment, being told no, not getting their own way and when real life hits, they can’t cope because it was more important that they be happy as children. There you are, hope you feel better, that is my rant done for the day.

    • You go, Girl!
      Hubby’s take on it is that “not embarassing Mommy” has trumped good sense, and I think he has a point. Sure, it can be mortifying when Junior misbehaves in public, but your job as a parent is to teach him the right way, NOT stick food in his mouth so he’ll hush!
      Glad you got a chance to rant, too!

  3. You KNOW how I feel about this!!! These “snack” kids will have many problems at school. They could be labeled “ADD” or “ADHD” when they are really a product of poor parenting. You are SO right about the bribery that is going on at story time.

  4. Bless you! I’ve a feeling this post is going to get passed around quite a bit. Not having children of my own, I hesitate to say anything but what you’ve said is just plain common sense. And speaking of common sense, your attending Story Time twice weekly is a brilliant way to get your Angel accustomed to interacting with others her own age as well as adults. I’ve said it before, she’s very lucky to have landed in your care.

    • It makes sense to you because you were raised that way – in a family that valued mealtimes and the bonding that went with them (Even though they never would have used that word). When we talk about the breakdown of the food culture and the family in the US, this is one of the things we can point to…
      Story Time, I think, is a good way to ease her into some kind of half-day preschool program. My kids at this age had all been spending Sunday Mornings in the nursery at church, so a couple of days a week in a school-ish place wasn’t a big deal for them. She needs a bit of prep-work first.

  5. OH I AGREE! There seems to be a lack of interest in applying gentle firm discipline to children. And telling them how to behave at a certain place before we get there. “We are going to the store, you hold onto the trolley, that is all. If you cannot walk beside the trolley nicely, you sit IN it. That is the other choice”. Simple. And never back down. I could write a book on this honestly! As a professional nanny and i know i have said this before i encountered some appalling behaviour! All i did was apply a few simple rules. Ensure that the children knew the rules and the repercussions if they chose to break them, before we ventured out, then never ever back down. gentle quiet firm. period. the parents would have them for the weekend and it was BEDLAM! shudder! i am sure you are doing a wonderful job. RANT ON! c

    • I only had to leave a carriage full of groceries in the store ONCE and take a child to the parking lot… 😀
      Just so you know, I now have this wonderful mental image of Our Celie in a Mary Poppins cape and hat! SuperNanny!
      Thanks for the affirmation.

  6. I don’t have kids either, so you know I’m going to agree wholeheartedly. It’s not just the snack thing either. They have trouble telling their kids no in general. Although, one of my friends who’s 25 and has three young kids is really good about saying no. Maybe it just skipped the Gen Xers!

    • I think what I find so weird is that the parents I’m watching are only a little older than my children (all in their 20’s now)who were NOT raised this way, nor were their classmates. So, where did it come from? Yes, there was a lot of ‘entitelement’ mentality in child-rearing, from the Boomers on down, but we may be reaching Critical Mass here.
      (By the way, GenX is you and me…Post-1965 to the Mid-80’s. I hate that… 😉 )

  7. This is so accurate, our culture inundates us with food at every turn. Snack while watching tv, snack while on the computer.. sip a whipped cream topped frappucino whilst driving… the kids aren’t the only ones eating too much. And yes, discipline and common sense seems to be over-run with a self-centered style of learning… what will make “little one” happy is always the order of the day, isn’t it?

    • Amen, Barb!
      One of our first hurdles with the Munchkin (after the bedtime stuff) was teaching her that food and drink was for the table ONLY, not wherever, whenever. Water only in the car, and just for trips of over an hour.
      Sadly, every time I put her in her chair, she grabs my hand and says, “You stay with me.” I can only imagine how many times she was left alone in a high chair…

  8. I take my 2 year old granddaughter to Story Box at the local library. Grandparents outnumber parents, which is most noticeable when we have to go from sitting cross-legged to standing up, and then back down. Lots of creaking knees. Our leader, Miss Marta, does not allow any personal toys or food in the room. I think that is a very good policy, for many reasons.

    • So, the lovely little Sprite in your photos is your graddaughter? 🙂 Neither of us is old enough for that, are we?
      That’s a great policy. I wish our little library was better – our Children’s librarian is a sour thing.

  9. My children are a tad older than your dear Angel – 27 & 29! But they were taught at a very young age the proper way to act in public. As my son would tell you I could look at him and bend down and whisper in his ear. That was all it took. And my two are still very much individuals who make their own way in the world – their childhood was not scarred! One more quick story. When they were 4 and 6 I took them to the Kentucky Historical Society to do genealogy research. There were some raised eyebrows when we walked in – honestly, I had never seen another child there! But they sat at the table with their coloring books and were just as quiet as the adults around them!

    • My own kids are in their 20’s, and grew up like yours. Elderly ladies used to make a point of stopping by our table in a restaurant to compliment them on their table manners…They’re not scarred, either!
      Angel is now schooled in the proper place for a napkin during a meal…”That goes in your LAP, Grandad!” 😀

  10. Amen, amen, my Sister!!! You know I’ve never had children of my own, but not long after I passed the babysitting age I started teaching college students, and let me tell you, my two decades of “raising” those kids were eye-openers in so many ways that reflect exactly what you’re describing. People who grow up thinking that every privilege is a Right, who think discipline is a four-letter word, and who find etiquette “quaint” but meaningless make me want to forget all of the discipline and etiquette I ever learned and go on a good rampage myself. I love this post.

    And more than that, I thank you for *all* our sakes for giving your little sweetheart a better foundation for being a civil and civilized human being.

    • Isn’t it the truth, though?
      I didn’t teach in a school, but spent 20 years hiring high school and college kids to work at the service meat and seafood counter. Watching the devoloution of the work ethic – and other things! – was awful. I don’t want to see that perpetuated.
      Now, those kids for whom the easy way was the only way are parents, and they’re still taking the path of least resistance – bribes over discipline.

  11. I too don´t have children, but nieces, nephews, godchildren and honorary fairy god children….and I so agree! We always had to “sit nicely, say thank you nicely, eat nicely…” you get the gist. I have a lovely (American actually) friend who is the most loving and wonderful mother. Her children have to be the most nicely brought up I know and have learned good manners right from the start…when you are at their house and they want their parent´s attention while the “grown ups” are speaking they always say “excuse me Mummy, Daddy,” first! Love what you´re doing with your little Angel…good for you 🙂

    • That’s great – your friend is raising some good ones for the next generation…
      Tell me, are you seeing things like this in Spain? In France, we hardly ever see problems – kids are expected to behave, and no one batts an eye if an unruly child gets a swat on the behind…

  12. So very true. It’s those habits developed young in age that cause problems later in life. Eating should be special, surrounded by family as a time for nutrient and bonding. I agree totally with you!

      • I’m looking forward to hearing about you and Angel in the garden:) It will transport me back to being a kid with my mum. But I have to say my heart skipped a beat when I read a comment of your about her being left in the high chair. Oooomph!
        and France – well the French kids I know, yes they are well and truly disciplined. No messing. It’s interesting to watch them in comparison to the British kids – I hear conversations in the shops parent to child “what do you want to eat for dinner?” WHAT !! It makes my mind boggle.
        But most of all I think you are giving Angel a loving warm home 🙂 No matter how nuts you are going (it’s only temporary right?) its worth it…..

        • I’ve heard that same conversation…Mom brings a tired 4-year-old into the store, stands him in front of the deli case, and says,”Pick something!” Child dissolves into tears…

          Which part is temporary? The kid, or the ‘going nuts’? They may both be permenant…

  13. I decided to wait until I wouldn’t rant with you, but I fear it may happen anyhow. I see the same thing going on with, well, children and parents I won’t name because it’s amazing what shows up in Google searches these days.

    This mindless eating habit also means that there is no reason for the young ones to try anything new at the dinner (or lunch or breakfast) table because they are not hungry enough to bother. I know I will sound like the old curmudgeon I’m apparently becoming, but I know I was more willing to try new foods when a little hunger spurred me on. I’m not saying starve the children first. Just let them learn that the food trough is not always open.

    • Amen, my friend. We’ve had such great luck with trying new things since we broke her of the habit of wandering around with a juice cup all day…not only was it destroying her teeth, but her belly always felt full, and she didn’t eat…Her favorite snack (right now) is a bowl of cut-up cherry tomatoes. 🙂
      Rant all you want…us Grandmas gotta stick to our guns!

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