Friday, November 2, 2007


I know I have a toddler who has just made her transition to the full on "terrible twos" - so the idea of someone grabbing and wanting everything they set their eyes on, may possibly be something I'm particularly sensitive to. But I've recently started noticing that it's not just small children who have this "gimmee" attitude. Too many people seem to feel like it's just their right to get as much as they can at all costs.

A couple of months ago I took Sugar and Spice and their friend Ladybug to the library. They were having a special event to celebrate the opening of their newly-renovated children's room. There was a puppet show, a book give-away, pizza, and raffle prizes. As each kid arrived, they were given a bag with stickers, fliers, and I think, an eraser. They were also given tickets - 1 for a free book, 1 for pizza, and one for the raffle prize drawing.

When we arrived, we collected everything except for the pizza tickets, because we'd just eaten, and went inside. The room was dark and jam-packed with kids of all ages, nannies and moms. The puppet show was in full swing, so we worked our way through the crowd and found a place in the back. We quickly discovered that it was a total waste of time to try to watch the puppet show.

Kids were screaming, babies were crying, children were running around in every direction. Nannies and mothers were walking back and forth in front of the little stage rocking babies or talking to toddlers.

HELLO? What is wrong with this picture?

There's a woman up on the stage working her ass off to put on a show, and no one is watching!!! In the meantime, the hallway outside of the room is empty!!! I don't understand why NONE of these people thought to take their screaming, crying, running, jumping, loud, non-show-watching children OUT OF THE ROOM!

Why is it that so many people these days think "kid-friendly" means their child can just act like a lunatic?

This kind of behavior was just snatching time and enjoyment away from the few people in the room - I can't believe that me and my kids were the only ones - who wanted to watch the show. The sheer selfish entitlement just astounds me.

My girls (I think of Ladybug as mine when she's with me) looked at me like, "What's going on in here?" So I took them out and we went next door to the newly-renovated Children's Reading Room. Of course the room was mostly empty, but there were a few adults and kids enjoying the new space. But then a kid ran in and screamed "THEY'RE GIVING OUT PIZZA!!!!" and everyone in the room with us jumped up and bolted out of the room.

Now, I saw how many people there were, so I know, that at best they were cutting those slices thin. Is a half a slice of free pizza something to get that excited about? Is it really worth pushing shoving and screaming over? Especially when the library is 1 block away from a pizzeria, where a whole slice can be bought?

OK, so before I sound too holier-than-thou, we are as prone as others to wanting free stuff. So, when the free books and raffles are announced my girls and I went back into the room.

I walk into the room and there's a girl on the stage with a big box of stuff. She's a rather timid looking girl in her late teens or early twenties. Her curly hair is trying to escape the ponytail she's pulled it back in and her cheeks are slightly flushed. She's calling out numbers, but no one is responding.

The situation gets worse and worse. The people whose numbers are called are raiding the box taking two or three toys. The people whose numbers aren't called are getting increasingly impatient. The whole mob starts moving closer and closer to the stage. They WANT THEIR FREE STUFF!

Finally I can't take it any more and I go up on the stage and whisper to the girl, asking if she wants help. Now, I'm normally a pretty shy person, but I can't stand seeing this poor kid getting crushed by an unruly crowd of adults, who should know better, dragging their kids along and screaming, "Gimmee!"

We give up on the raffle aspect, tell people to line up and start handing out prizes. I'm amazed at how people continue to behave poorly.

"I don't like this! Give me something else!"

"Why can't I pick my own!"

"This sucks!"

"I need 2," "Why?" "1 is for my brother." "Your brother has to get his himself," "He's not here."

And one woman, clearly put out that I'm helping this girl and not letting them bully here, steps up close to me and demands, "And just WHO ARE YOU!"

All this ugliness for a cheap plastic toy, with "made in china" stamped on the bottom of it. What is wrong with people?

And it's all people. the crowd is one of the most diverse ones I've ever seen - people of every ethnicity and every socio-economic background. There's plenty of $900 Bugaboos lined up in the hallway, but plenty of $10 ToysRUs strollers and everything in between out there too. Is it just human nature to be greedy?

I found myself asking that question again Halloween night.

We headed out to Brooklyn with Spice as Princess Dora and Sugar dressed as a Gryffindor House, Hogwarts student. She wanted a broom - so choose Quidditch player Angelina, but also wanted her hair out and frizzy, so opted for Hermoine - and wound up as something in between. We spent a little time having fun coming up with names - Angelina Granger, Herlina, Angemoine, etc.

We got to Dad's house and the trick or treating had started. Hordes of people were moving up and down the block in pursuit of free candy. And despite their costumes, some of which were great - getting their hands on the candy was clearly the main objective. My Dad was taking pictures of all the costumes, and you could see people stopping to have their picture taken, but trying to edge themselves closer to my uncle's house, checking out his basket of candy.

My girls stayed and handed out candy for a bit, but then they wanted to trick or treat too, so I took them down the block. Some of the houses were beautifully decorated, we passed friends in great costumes, but the crowd pushed us on.

No stopping to admire Halloween finery - everyone had to get their candy!

We went back to Dad's and Sugar and Spice handed out more stuff. I just watched as hordes of people would converge, sometimes pushing each other out of the way. Got to get that free stuff!

What really disturbed me was that most of the time it was the parents, not the kids who were so determined to make sure they got theres. Adults carrying babies, who certainly weren't old enough to even eat candy, were pushing their way to the front. Other parents, screamed out to kids, lagging behind, "You better get up here and get your candy!" while holding others at bay to make a path for their kid to get to the candy. What is that about? Is that what we're teaching kids these days, how to push and shove your way to the front. How to make sure you "Get yours."

I don't get it. I don't like it. I don't want my kids to be all about getting the most stuff. I'm thrilled that they actually enjoyed giving candy away at least as much as they did going out and trick or treating.

When I was a kid Halloween was as much about the costume as the candy. We made our costumes - store bought ones were frowned on. And we loved running into friends while we were trick or treating and stopping to ooh and aah over each others creativity. Now, everyone buys their costumes, and no one stops to look. It's all about getting the free candy.

Next year I hope that we're in a new apartment and will have enough space to throw a party. Then we don't have to watch the annual GIMMEE grab! Maybe by then Spice will be past her Gimmee phase too.

1 comment:

Mom said...

I understand what you are saying about kids running wild. I almost don't like taking the kids places because I know there will be kids (and their parents) acting like animals. I'm kind of a bitch though so I'll tell people that they need to take their kids out or tell kids they need to behave. I'm sure it makes people mad, but I'm just as sure that I don't care. It isn't fair to the kids that are doing right to be dealing with adults that can't be bothered.