I was eating lunch in Panera yesterday and a father/son couple sat down adjacent to me. Dad was reading the back cover of “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” to his little boy, who couldn’t have been older than six. The boy sat there listening intently and slowly chomped down his bagel. All of a sudden a young girl, about eight or nine years old, adjacent to all of us, interrupted. And I mean literally interrupted. She ranted and raved about how good the books were, disclosed the fact she owned all of them, and berated her mother for “borrowing them” when it was least convenient.
Now some of you are thinking, “Aww, that’s so cute. A little girl talking about Harry Potter.” Frankly, I found her pretty annoying and also a little pissed at herdad for sitting there, letting this girl go on and on. It was clearly evident that dad #1 couldn’t have given a rat’s ass what she had to say. I mean, this poor guy was taking 15 minutes out of his hellatious week and spending some quality one-on-one with his son (kudos to him, by the way), when ‘little miss sunshine’ felt it necessary to put in her two cents.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t hold the girl responsible. She’s too young to have a thorough understanding of tact. Her dad, however, was another story. Dad #2 should have said something to the little girl and insisted that she mind her own business. It was so apparent in dad #1’s voice that he wanted to just go back and read the book to his son. Dad #2 remained completely clueless. What do people think anymore? Just mind your kid and respect other people’s time.
There is a flip side though. I kind of admired the little girl for having a “no nonsense mentality” in speaking up. The little boy replied to the little girl and carried on a small conversation. He was seemingly less annoyed than his dad, or me.
My take is that as we get older, we become aware of our limits and our boundaries. But with youth, there is no limit. Kids talk to whoever, interject whenever, and see no consequence – which is sort of awesome. The true cavaliers retain this limitless mentality and meld it with a certain sense of tact. They take advantage of every opportunity to connect with others, yet do so in a way which is comfortable for both parties. Kids are kids. Parents need to be better at what they do. It’s not all about them anymore. That little girl will probably grow up to become a politician or a psychiatrist. The little boy who could have cared less either way -well, time will tell.
I’m sure Dad #1 and I will continue to be annoyed when others butt in to our conversations.