According to a recent CBS Morning News segment there's a growing grassroots movement to ban or segregate screaming toddlers from such public domains as restaurants and airplanes. And I, for one, heartily applaud the effort.
Nothing can ruin a dining experience faster than a yelping baby at the next table. Likewise, I'd compare any flight to, or from, Orlando as aviation's version of Dante's Inferno. Just about every Air Disney plane is chock full of screaming kids hopped up on sugar. They'll barrel up and down the aisles, fall all over themselves and often fling their Mickey Mouse ears at some luckless adult passenger. While the kids run amok, mom and dad either snooze, shrug their shoulders and smile or crank up their iPods.
The call for a little kids crackdown is overdue and, I believe, a direct result of the hands-off parenting we're seeing in modern society. For whatever reason, more and more parents have abdicated responsibility for their child's education, diet and behavior. And, as regards at least the latter, the rest of us are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.
It wasn't always this way. My dad wouldn't stand for bad behavior in public from his three sons. And, Ang and I reigned in Chris and Cat whenever they acted out. In fact, I'll never forget a brutal dining experience with a young Repman, Jr.. Chris couldn't have been more than two years old at the time, but he was on total overdrive that particular night. His banshee-like cries and Wrestlemania-like jumps, body slams and falls stunned fellow diners and forced us to beat a hasty retreat home. We were embarrassed and didn't want to subject others to the youngster's recklessness.
That sort of parental responsibility doesn't seem to happen very often these days. Instead, little Jack and Efrem are given license to run roughshod like some miniaturized, modern version of the Visigoths.
My personal bete noir is the kid sitting in the row behind me on a plane who continually pulls, punches and kicks my seat. I also adore the rotten tot who decides to run laps around his table and mine at a nice restaurant, completely destroying an enjoyable dinner.
I do hope the grass roots program I heard about on CBS takes hold. We should restrict misbehaving kids to the back of the plane or a separate section of the restaurant. Case in point, a restaurant in NC has banned unruly children and the owner says business has increased as a result. The world would be a slightly saner place if more restaurants followed suit. Better yet, we should limit the number of flights and fine dining establishments that accept kids under the age of two. But until then, look out for that kid with the applesauce! I think he's about to fling it your way!