Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Something Stunk - and it wasn't the animals!

I took Sean and Mikey to the zoo today. When we arrived, there were 6 buses unloading and lots of schools already there. We were one of only several 'non-school' parties there and it was hard not to notice some things that were going on that I thought were really unfortunate.

Our first stop was waiting to ride the train. As we waited, the group behind us experienced some conflict between the children. A boy called a girl a name and she began to cry. The adult that was present in the party knelt down to the little girl and told her what she needs to do is ignore him. She sniffled an 'ok' in response. The adult said nothing to the boy who committed the infraction until a few minutes later when he did something else that I did not see. At this point, the woman who was obviously in charge told him that if he broke one more rule, they were all getting out of line and 'the whole group would pay because of him'. Really?!? So much for all the 'bullying' hype!

The group in front of us were probably Kindergarten age. They were having a difficult time waiting in the long line that had formed. The two women that were in charge of that group were deeply engrossed in a conversation about a vacation one of them had taken. The kids were getting understandably rowdy. I watched as opportunity after opportunity was lost to point out interesting surroundings to the kids, a nearby butterfly that had landed on a soda machine and a little creek filled with all sorts of things to look at. I played 'I spy' with Mikey and Sean while they told the kids if they didn't 'start behaving', there would be no more class trips. They never started 'behaving' and lots of 'stop its!' followed. Guess these kids managed to garner the attention they were trying to get.

In front of another exhibit my kids were sharing space with a religous preschool. We were there for several minutes during which the teacher was very loud and short tempered with the kids, used sarcasm, and did a lot of sighing and eye rolling. This lady was obviously at the end of her rope with these kids, and seemed in no way interested in hiding that from onlookers.

Another situation I noted was while walking along a path that housed many small animals and birds. The kids kept asking the teacher what the animals were. 'A hedgehog', she said. It was a porcupine. 'That's another hawk', she said. A turkey vulture. 'Some kind of cat', she said. Yeah, a Lynx. I don't know if I am much smarter than her, but I do know that I am a better reader, as the names were on the plaques near the cages.

This is a lot of incidents of really what I think is crappy interactions with small children in the span of two hours. Another factor that I find very interesting is that we were in a public place where anyone could witness these displays. Had I known any of these children, I would have been on the phone promptly with their parents. Everyone had on name tags or shirts with the names of the programs they were with.  Talk about terrible publicity.

It impacted our visit. I kept thinking - this is unbelievable and it stinks! Why do you think I was able to witness so many poor interactions in such a short span of time? I considered each of these scenarios to be easily to remedied.

As a mother, I understand frustration and running out of patience. I do. Should it be different for people who've been put in charge of other people's children? Am I overreacting?


  1. Nope, you are not overreacting at all! I have seen this too many times with schoolchildren and their teachers and also with children and their parents.

    I admit, there are times I have lost patience with my children ... in public *groan*, and I was always chagrined that I had lost that learning opportunity with them. I understand it can happen, everyone can have a bad day!

    As teachers, though, they should have been more thoughtful of what they were doing! It was not a time to socialise, but a time to point out the marvels around them and learn right along with them to show the children that learning can be fun.

    I guess these children were taught what a lot of children are taught ... 'You are a nuisance to me and a waste of my time.'

    It is sad!

  2. Janet, thank you for this insight, I too sometimes lose patience with my boys. Your observations although unfortunate for those children, reminds me to seize the opportunities to teach Ryan and Jason about the wonderful things all around us and not dismiss them.