We paid a visit to a pumpkin patch today. I was crazy excited for this little outing because it represents our son’s first holiday-related adventure. One of the aspects of parenting I have always been most excited about is making the holidays magical for our kids. Obviously Charlie is a little young for a lot of the really fun stuff, but this was still a momentous occasion for me.
The sun was out and blazing. It was a gorgeous day for a pumpkin patch adventure, and we decided it was worth the $9 each (minus the little one) for corn maze privileges. It also got us access to lots of fun mini-mazes and little attractions. The farm was a busy place today, naturally, and this led to Chris and I making an agreement about the way we want to parent our child.
It started when Chris was inspecting a “left turn only” maze. He was trying to solve it (a tangle of lines on the ground that you follow and are supposed to solve by making only left turns) and we had been there only a few moments, when a young girl of probably 6 or 7 and her mom approached. The girl walked up and stood directly in the middle of the maze and didn’t move, and her mom simply stood there and didn’t say a word. So we walked away as the two of them overtook the maze without a word or glance at us. It felt so odd- we had expected the mom to perhaps gently remind her daughter to wait her turn, but instead she sort of implicitly supported her rude behavior by not saying anything and then joining her as we left.
Don’t get me wrong! The last thing I want to do is throw a fit over a small incident. For all I know the mom was just a little out of it, chasing a young daughter around a busy pumpkin patch on a hot weekend day, and it didn’t even occur to her how their behavior came across to us. She may reflect on it later and feel a little silly. (Or not, I have no idea.) But after several more incidents of other families cutting us off, stepping in front of us while we were trying to enjoy this or that attraction and just generally being completely oblivious to any other than themselves, we agreed that we have got to be mindful of setting a good example for Charlie.
I know it’s extremely easy to critique the parenting decisions of others. It’s a breeze, when you haven’t been in someone else’s position, to pontificate on what you would do differently (and better). But not once while we were at the patch did we hear a single parent gently correct or remind their kids to be polite, not cut in line, or wait their turn. It struck us as very odd.
I believe there’s a time and place to let kids just be kids and do their thing, but in a crowded place where everyone has paid money for the opportunity to participate, we both agreed that it would be a perfect opportunity to gently teach children about being mindful of others.
It didn’t by any means ruin our trip. We left with a big beautiful pumpkin and some adorable pictures and a good memory of a trip through the corn maze (which at a distance was SHAPED LIKE A CHICKEN.)
I don’t want to turn into that parent who spends a bit too much of her own energy criticizing the parenting style of others. But I do want to take the opportunity to learn from the frustration we experienced, and try to use the lesson to become better parents ourselves. It won’t be long before those deep blue eyes will be more intently watching our every action and taking our example to heart. That’s a huge responsibility!
What do you think are the most important manners we should be teaching our little one?