Down in front!

Due to the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary and the recent Christmas break, I stopped posting for  a couple of weeks, but now it is time for a little catch up! The following is the article that would have been posted…enjoy!

When I was about grammar school age, during our summer vacations, my parents enrolled my siblings and I in a day camp at our local park. Each week we would take field trips to various destinations – but there is one trip that was particularly memorable for me.

One of our field trips was to the Bob Baker’s Marionette Theater. This was a very terrifying trip for most kids  – because the puppets were down right creepy looking! But for me, I was fascinated. Why would my parents pay for such a so-called “field trip”? But the nerdy side of me was more fascinated by how these marionettes actually worked.

When we arrived at the theater, the camp counselor “tried” to have us sit orderly on the floor in preparation for the show to start. Placed in the second row, I sat quietly but was eager to get a glimpse of the marionettes. At last, the show began and as some of the campers ran to the counselors out of sheer terror (I think you guys get it by now, these things were pretty creepy), I decided to get a better view of the action. It was at that moment that I heard a phrase that, up to that point in my life, I had never heard before. It was said with the authoritativeness of a Marine drill sergeant and it cut me deep with the precision of a Ginsu knife. “Down in front!” yelled the camp counselor and although no one had ever said that to me before, I immediately knew two things:

One, I knew the comment was meant for me because I was the only one standing. But two, and more importantly, I did not like getting yelled at and singled out. I knew instantly that my actions were preventing others from enjoying the show. Even though what I did was innocent enough – I  just wanted to see the marionettes – in that instance, my act of selfishness was called out – and it didn’t feel good.

Perhaps you’ve had similar experiences (but hopefully not at a marionette show) and can relate to what I am saying but, fast-forward to adulthood/parenthood and the notion that you’re your actions can have a negative effect on others, seems to be an afterthought – if even a thought at all.

Before Christmas, we attended my daughter’s preschool Christmas performance (she had a solo and we were so proud) and amidst the adorable singing, I could not help but notice how hyperbolically awful some of the parents were behaving.

After standing in long lines to get into the auditorium, and trying to find the one row of seats that isn’t “reserved”, and after trying to find the best vantage spot to see our child, we finally settled in and got ready for the performance. As the show gets underway, we powered up our cameras (yes, cameraS – I know its not just me) and were ready to capture this precious moment. Just as our daughter gets ready to sing – it happens! Dad, in the row in front of us, decides he is now Scorsese and he needs a better shooting angle and stands up right in front of us. Better yet, mom, who got there late and didn’t have to wait in the long line but has to sit in the back, has now miraculously made her way to the front by blocking the aisle and is holding her iPad above her head so she can get HER video. So now, rather than a video of our angel singing her lungs out, we have jittery footage trying to film around iPad mom or Scorsese dad!

Although I abhor the flagrant and insolent audacity by which these parents behave, what shocks me more – well, it actually saddens me, is the impunity by which it is done. You feel like saying, “Down in front!” as if that will do something while Scorsese dad has a look on his face like, “I wish someone would say something to me…” And you feel like saying to iPad mom, “Seriously?!? Who does that?” All iPad mom is saying, “it’s all about my kid!” And the reason why it saddens me? While Scorsese dad and iPad mom (and believe me, there were others) are behaving poorly, their other children, who were not performing but rather part of the audience – are just as disruptive!

It comes full circle to how our actions and behavior are teaching and guiding our children. When we as parents fail to recognize how our behavior can affect those around us, our children are destined to repeat our behavior, often with unintended consequences. There is nothing wrong with wanting to capture these precious moments but we have to be conscious of our surroundings – our little ones are watching!

Have you experienced iPad mom or Scorsese dad (or any variant thereof)? How did you handle the situation?

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2 thoughts on “Down in front!

  1. Funny side story… Kirk and I haul all the kids to from VA to OH to go to his PhD graduation. 3 of the 4 get sick, so I get to babysit at the hotel while his parents take my camera for me to his graduation. One of my favorite photos is of (microscopic) Kirk walking across the stage in the background while the focal point of the photo ends up being his mom’s back, standing with the iPad held high for pics/video, while everyone else around is sitting. Yep… that was MY family! Here’s hoping the spacing in between graduates was long enough for them to cozy back into their seats giving the next family enough time to get their iPads ready for the big moment. 🙂

  2. PS – Based on how small Kirk was in the photo… at least they weren’t in the FRONT blocking everyone’s shot. Or maybe they should’ve been?? 🙂

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