We took Ben to see Seussical at the opera house last night. It's a whimsical performance, meshing together various Dr. Seuss books (mostly the Horton ones) with the Cat in the Hat as the narrator. Dr. Seuss teaches *such* great lessons in his books...you've got any number of them to choose from. He teaches:
~The importance of keeping our word, "I meant what I said, and I said what I meant, 'An elephant's faithful one-hundred percent.'"
~The value of life..."Because after all, a person's a person, no matter how small."
~How important it is to exercise our imaginations..."Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try."
~Personal responsibility/accountability..."You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose."....and "You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you will be the guy who'll decide where you'll go."
~The power of One..."Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
~Not to take life too seriously..."If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good."
Honestly, I could keep this up all day. The man rocks.
That said, last night's experience at Seussical was about more than a few ultra-meaningful snippets from an amazing author/ illustrator's books. I learned a little about the nature of our society...and it made me sad.
The tickets were sold as general admission. Seats were not assigned...so despite our love for being fashionably late, we got there about 30 minutes early to get in line. Two lines had formed to go through the two sides of the opera house, and the wait inside was getting a little crowded. People kept cramming in and the lines became less and less discernable. Right before the doors opened, a group of six or seven girls, probably in their upper-teens, and their mother shoved their way inside right behind us...literally leaning on us (pregnant me, Sam, and little 5-year old Ben).
As soon as the ticket-collecters opened the doors, the pushing began. The girls joined hands and made their move.
If you know me, you know that I am about the least aggressive person on the planet. So I was really proud of myself for my body positioning maneuver that involved a side step and an elbow block. (If you could see me now in my pregnant state, it's entirely possible that I could be mistaken for a linebacker.) This didn't go over so well. I was greeted with an angry, "EXCUSE *YOU*!" from the first teen. I made no eye contact, but maintained my blocking position.
Sam engaged: No. Excuse *you*...we're in a line. We were here first.
Girl: What?! WhatEVER! Did you just hear that?! He said 'Excuse you' to ME?!
There was discussion among them for several minutes as we made our way to the ticket-puller and to our seats...but you know what, they were still behind us. Decorum and decency won. The sheer disconnect of attending a cultural event and then behaving in such a way as that was too much for me. And being who I am and doing what I do, I'm obviously still thinking about it today.
Anyway, we made it to our seats. We sat in front of a family with 2 kids, ages 3.5 and 5.5. I heard this because the 5.5 year old was very vocal prior to the show, and just happened to throw that out there. They were very spirited kids, but I wasn't stressed out (yet). The show hadn't started...no big deal.
Until the show started.
The parents were sitting on the ends, with the kids between them. The 3.5 year old talked throughout the show. The 5.5 year old yelled. He stood up, touched me, kicked my seat...you name it. Okay. So, I get this from the 3.5 year old...maybe. But the almost 6-year old, no. What did the parents do? Nothing. They did nothing. I heard a "shhh" once or twice from the mom. They weren't just disrupting us (directly in front of them), people rows in front of us were turning around casting angry looks. Still nothing.
Again, being the non-aggressor that I am, I did and said nothing. I don't know what I should have done, but nothing probably wasn't the answer. I just kept thinking....this is only an hour, I can get through it...they aren't *my* kids, their parents need to do something...stop being a grumpy old witch, Jennie.
Then, as we left after the show I regretted not saying anything. (Of course.) And being who I am and doing what I do, I'm still thinking about it today.
All I can do now is reflect. Two(ish) primary questions keep running through my mind...
1. When and why did it become acceptable to disregard common decency (such as a line)?
2. When did we, as parents, take the hands-off approach to parenting? If we can't control our kids at 3.5 and 5.5...how in the world can we expect them to behave when they're 14?
The goal of this was to get it out of my mind and down in words...so that I can stop thinking about it. Once again, I'm led back to the wisdom of Dr. Seuss...the man...
"Sometimes the questions are complicated, but the answers are simple."
Let's remember this as we raise our children together. This is a life of promise. What's hard now, will pay off later. I mean that, one-hundred percent.