As I wrote yesterday, we went to the Oakland Zoo on Sunday as a family. This was our first family outing to a place jam-packed full of children and families. We had a wonderful time but kept having poor experiences from many other parents.
What do I mean by this exactly? Well I don’t mean that we were yelled at or got into verbal or physical fights with anyone, but everywhere we went (we explored the entire park as this was our first visit) we saw poor behavior on behalf of the parents. This behavior mainly had to do with respect for others and one’s surroundings:
- Specifically, people would stop in the middle of narrow walkways and stand there, blocking dozens of people from going through, apparently aloof to their surroundings.
- People would take up as much space as possible while viewing exhibits, along with strollers (without children in them) so others couldn’t view an exhibit.
- People would not move out of the way even when they saw that you were waiting to move around them.
- Taking a picture? Hope you like random people in it, because no one else cares.
- Most people don’t want to WAIT to get somewhere, they just trudge ahead causing even more congestion to an area where obviously others are waiting.
I know that these things probably do not seem like a lot, or even bad, but they really ruined my day at the zoo. OK, I had fun and I will go back, but I will do it during the week when there won’t be as many people there.
Do adults lose their respectfulness toward other adults when they are in public? I am basing this off of a few hours at a zoo, but I would have to say yes. The vast majority of people did not seem to care about others at the zoo. There were no apologies, smiles, waves or moments of realization from these parents as the day went on. I felt as though they could not see me or my family, or they just didn’t care.
I’ve had two days to contemplate why the behavior was the way I experienced it and I am still stumped. I have a few theories…
- Anonymity – Perhaps they feel they can act differently because they’ll never see these people again (this explains a lot of behavior on the internet).
- Focus on the children – This is time with their kids and everything else takes a backseat?
- They don’t care – Perhaps they are like this all the time?
- Rules don’t apply – Maybe I’m just too new of a parent to realize that this is how things are at such places?
- Toddlers change parents – Perhaps my son is too young still and I haven’t been jaded?
Compared and Contrasted
The reason I am even posting this is because in my day-to-day experiences with adults I do not encounter this type of behavior from adults. In fact I experience the exact opposite. People are friendly and courteous, they hold open doors for me (which as a male I am not used to), they smile and let me go first, etc etc. Basically, there is a standard order and respect for those around them.
Are kids learning to act this way?
I have to wonder then, if the children are learning these behaviors as they experience this from their parents. Of course hardly anything is spoken but they are learning how to treat other people are they not? While I pose that question, I did not experience that at the zoo… the kids were respectful and courteous to the adults walking around. They got out of the way, didn’t loiter, were excited and smiled… Perhaps some of this was a by-product of being at the zoo or perhaps their parents discourteous behavior had not rubbed off them yet. Or perhaps I am completely over-reacting (I do that sometimes).
Am I over-reacting?
I know that I could be over-reacting, reading into something that wasn’t there, but I am pretty courteous in public. I move out of the way not to block walkways or an exhibit, I smile and wave, I am entirely aware of my surroundings, I wait my turn, I say excuse me, thank you, pardon me etc.
I want to raise Thomas to be courteous to everyone, to be respectful in public and to others. I may take this a bit too far as my enjoyment suffers a little so that I do not disrupt anyone else… for example I would rather push the stroller behind my wife instead of walking side-by-side because that takes up too much space for most walkways. Maybe I am too courteous and my expectations are not in-line with others.
What do you think?
What are your thoughts of adult behavior in places like zoos, amusement parks, fairs, pumpkin patches etc? Am I right? Am I over-reacting? Please leave a comment and let me know what your experiences have been like…
I experienced a few couples (without kids) that were roughly my age and they did not exhibit any of the negative behaviors I mentioned above.. food for thought.