Tag Archives: parents

Dinner Talk

Swiss Chalet in Saint John, two 20-something women with a toddler Swiss_Chalet_quarter_chicken-2011-Tabercil-wikicommonseach and one infant. Four full meals. One child picks at his food, the other has eaten all he wants. One woman eats her meal, the other appears to be done. All the plates are still full. Side dishes, most still full, been pushed away.

One toddler goes exploring, over to the next table. He reaches as high as he can and pulls napkins and cutlery off. The woman sitting there smiles and talks to him. The child’s mother doesn’t notice what woman on cell phone wikicommonsis happening two feet away. Her head is down, over her cell phone. She is reading and texting. The other woman doesn’t notice either. She is chewing french fries and talking on her phone.

Finally the child’s mother looks up to see where he is. “Come back here Randy” she says and apologizes to the couple. They say it’s ok, they have a grandchild the same age. Randy sits in his chair. Mom goes back to texting.

The other mother goes to the washroom, baby carrier in one hand and phone held against her ear with the other. She returns, still talking on her phone. Both women continue texting and talking to people who are not in the restaurant.

Randy climbs down from his chair and goes to yet another table to pull things down and hang off restaurant patrons’ legs. Occasionally, his mother looks up from her screen to see where he is. Sometimes she gets up to retrieve him. He screeches when she demands he sit still. She goes back to her texting and reading.

Birthday Boy

birthday cake with sparkler wikicommonsWaiters head over, bearing birthday cake with a sparkler. They surround the table, clap and sing to the other little boy, who has stayed quietly in his chair. His mother continues talking on the phone, glancing up as they finish to say thank you. Then she returns to her call. The other woman texts throughout the entire thing. Birthday kid eats his cake and looks confused. The waiters are gone and everyone at his table is back to ignoring him. Randy screeches, baby sleeps, moms talk and text on their phones.

Randy’s mom looks up long enough to realize he is tired and is not going to shut up. “Ok, I’m taking you outside” she says. She puts her phone in her purse, gathers both boys up and leaves. Randy screeches all the way. The other mother puts her phone down and gets the baby ready to go. She asks for boxes for some of the food. Thank heavens, there is enough left to feed them all for another day. While she waits for the bill, she talks to her baby and to the couple sitting beside her, apologizing for her nephew bothering them. “It’s ok,” they too say, “we have grandchildren that age.”

Thankfully, Randy hadn’t made it to our table. While the child’s behaviour was understandable, if not desirable, that of the mothers kid-and cell-phoneswas not. Talking neither to each other nor their children, engaged solely with people somewhere else. We were fascinated by it and repulsed. Happy birthday, little boy. You deserve better than what you got.

junk email aug 2018
From a spam email I received recently. I highlighted the probably accurate – and scary – figure.

Five years later

I wrote this the day after it happened five years ago because I needed to cleanse my mind of this hideous family outing. I didn’t post it then though. Maybe it was just a “when I was young” old fogey complaint. Everyone had a cell phone, and always seemed to be on it doing something. Part of life. But others still talk about the omnipresence of phones, even little kids. The kid who wrote this widely-shared essay would be about the same age as the two little boys in Swiss Chalet.jen-adams-beason-fb-may-2018

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Aug. 19/12)

Solomon’s Judgement

Judgement of SolomonIn the Old Testament story (1 Kings 3:16-28), two women claimed to be the mother of a child and King Solomon had to decide which one was telling the truth. He called their bluff by saying the only resolution was to cut the child in half and give one half to each woman. One said ok and the other said don’t do that, give him to her. The woman who was willing to give up the child so that he would live, Solomon deemed, was the real mother.

On Tuesday at the train station, had King Solomon given that choice to Peter and Leanne, I’m not sure that both of them wouldn’t have said ‘go ahead, we’ll each take half of Simon’. Instead, they asked their child to choose between them and it was excruciating to watch.

Leanne and Peter look at Simon with CarlaWhen Leanne first said let Simon decide, I thought that’s good! But I didn’t realize they were going to act like they were in some extreme version of Family Feud. Each urging and pleading “pick me”, “no, pick me”.

Simon’s choice

I realize time was of the essence, with the train whistle blowing. So perhaps the reasoned out, cautious discussion I’d expected wasn’t possible. But getting right Leanne and Peter pleading with Simonin the child’s face, wheedling and crying? It was horrible. Within the realm of realism, I guess. That’s how divorce can really mess kids up, I guess.

There’s no way Simon can feel he didn’t let someone down. And there’s no way that feeling is not going to stick with him for a long time. On the upside, I guess he saw that both parents desperately want him. But that upside likely isn’t going to apparent to him until many years and a lot of Simon trying to decidepsychotherapy have passed. And, if he takes after his father, he will not resolve his childhood trauma even by middle-age.

Jane Danson (Leanne) talked (link is gone) about how difficult the custody battle storyline was for the adult actors to do. They all have their own children so they probably can’t help but interpolate their real life feelings into their acting. But they are grownups.

What can it be like for the real Simon looking at Leanne as Peter pleadsSimon, child actor Alex Bain? He has been phenomenal in this entire story. But watching him, tearful and brokenhearted, have to choose between two people he loves – that was truly gutwrenching to watch. I can’t imagine that it also wasn’t difficult for him to portray such emotional distress.

Leanne takes Simon awayIt’s been a cautionary tale about how hideously wrong things can go when one person decides to end a relationship, especially one that involves children. I hope when Peter and Carla return, that one of them has learned enough about themselves and childrearing that none of them will ask something like this of Simon ever again.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (June 3/12)

How would you know?

It didn’t take long. Only a few weeks of sharing hearth and home – and child – and on Peter telling Carla about SimonMonday Peter throws it at Carla. “How would you know?” is his response to her attempt to make him feel better as a parent. Nice one, Peter.

He has come home after a horrible day with his business records being audited and Simon throwing a hissy fit about coming home with him. Leanne picked Simon up Carla chopping onionsfrom school, at Peter’s request. She took him back to the Rovers and fed him, despite Peter having told her that Carla was busy cooking. As part of her effort to win Simon over to the “new normal”, Carla was attempting a culinary masterpiece – “spagbol from scratch!”

A tug of war between Peter and Leanne, each Leanne and Peter pulling on Simon's armspulling on one of Simon’s arms, ends with Simon saying he doesn’t want to go back to “her” (Carla) and he hates his father. Peter leaves Simon with Leanne and Stella, and goes home to break the news to Carla. She can cope with that, although disappointed.

What she can’t cope with, understandably, is Peter flinging her childless state in her face when she tries to comfort him. When he tells her Simon said he hated him, she says “oh, all kids do that” – a common if somewhat uncomforting attempt at consolation. His response – “Really?  How would you know?” – unfortunately, is also a common response in this situation.

Carla walking out door, after Peter says how would you knowThat is too much for her to take. She tells him she’s been vilified by the entire street for everything, including her attempts to do right by Simon, and she storms out.

Peter sits on the couch and feels sorry for himself. Then he hauls Carla’s large bottle of Scotch out of her large purse. Stares at it for a second, Peter pulling bottle from Carla's pursethen drinks straight from the bottle. End of episode. I had hoped for one more scene, of her coming back through the door, grabbing the bottle out of his hands and guzzling it herself, saying ‘I’m not a parent, I don’t have to be responsible for someone else’s life, and that’s my bottle, thanks very much’. Instead, for two days, she apologizes and grovels for upsetting him!

Let’s look at The Parents

Carla has had a lot of people telling her that she’s not maternal material. I wish she’d remind them that they might not want to hold their children up as proof of their parenting skills.

Barlows watch Simon have a tantrum in Rovers

Stella? Not there for Leanne. Looking at Eva, maybe that worked out better for Leanne. Ken and Deirdre, as bio- and step-parents? Ken has kids he never even knew about, few he had anything to do with raising, and none of them being particularly exemplary as human beings. Deirdre? One word, Tracy. Leanne? She won her “sainted mother” wings exactly the same way that Carla is now trying to do – through stepmothering Simon. And Peter? He tried to pack Simon off on anyone when he first got him and hasn’t exactly been father of the year since. So I think all of those who are giving Carla a hard time ought to be boarding up the walls of their glass houses.

Who killed Frank?

At the end of the week, key players have disappeared from public sight and/or said “I’ll kill Frank”.  And he is found dead on the factory floor. Who dun it? Many are in the Frank dead in pool of bloodframe. Those with big arrows pointing to them – Carla, Peter, Sally, Kev – are too obvious. Jenny? Doesn’t make sense, but it’s been suggested at Bluenose Corrie. I think Frank’s mother, another one who should worry about glass houses, is a contender. And there’s Mary – who knows why she would but I’m sure she could rationalize murdering Frank. She’s also my bet for the unanswered question of who beaned Tracy.