“your children are so well-behaved”

I never know exactly what to think when someone says that to me.  It happened just the other night.  We went to a house concert in Chelsea.  One of our favorite singers – Marion LoGuidice – was performing and we seldom miss a chance to see her.  She totally speaks to women like those of us who blog here – she sings about motherhood and old friendships and trying to stake a claim for yourself as a woman in this world.  She’s so amazing, so inspirational.  Check her music out here.

Anyway, we go to this house concert which is what it sounds like – someone opens their home – in this case a beautiful new loft space with dark wood floors and the sort of white leather furniture only an empty-nested parent can risk – and hosts an intimate gathering – maybe thirty-five of us for wine, snacks and song.  It’s really a cool way to spend an evening and generally there are some kids in attendance.

At this particular gathering, my kids were the youngest but not by a lot and we came in a little late.  The kids settled on the floor between the sofas and generally listened with attention and courtesy – nothing less than I expected.  I explained the situation to them before we went in, they got it, they behaved accordingly.  I was proud of them, but really I hadn’t expected anything different – they are nine and seven – they can behave at a mostly adult gathering.

When the music ended the 40-something woman sitting nearest my kids came immediately over to me and said “Your kids were so well behaved.”  I said “Thank you.”  It really is a great compliment whenever anyone says it.  But she went on – “No, really, they were so great.”  “Thanks, that’s so nice of you to say.”  Then she stood there a moment and I felt like I got what she was really saying.  What she really meant is when you walked in with those little kids I was thinking ‘why on earth would you bring children to this party’?!

 

But then my kids, doing their part for all kids everywhere surprised her by behaving!  Bravo to them!

But it made me wonder what it is about kids that makes some adults think the worst – as if they themselves were not kids once – as if these little people who are someday going to be looking after our old, decrepit butts aren’t people, too?  It drives me a little nuts.  Sure, they are small, they are sometimes ill-mannered but they are people, too, little and young though they are.  Show me a grown-up who hasn’t behaved badly at one time or another – a little too much to drink, a little too incensed by a slight – we all could act better from time to time.

And not every kid causes a problem.  Sure, some kids do behave badly, could stand a severe lesson in manners but I’d venture to say those kids are the exception, not the rule.  For the most part kids want to please the grown-ups around them as long as those grown-ups are willing to give them a chance to do it.

So while I will graciously accept the compliment you’ve given me, I will also accept it for the thousands of other kids who are sometimes frowned upon just for being kids in a grown-up world.  They are people, too.

Original post to NYC Moms Blog.  Jessica Ciosek is a freelance writer, mom and blogger living in NYC.

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