As I stood in line, smiling and quite frankly enjoying the energy of the moment, I was impressed that many of the children did smile back, say “excuse me” when they bumped me and acknowledge my presence.
However, there were others. These were the ones who continued to use foul language and derogatory terms in the presence of anyone within earshot. They were oblivious to the fact that they were in a public place that required a different level of decorum.
When one child decided he was tired of waiting in line, he got in front of me. I could tell from his body language that he knew I was there; however, he chose to pretend I wasn’t. I asked him if he was aware that there was a line, and he turned around and looked down at me, never looking me in the eye, and said with an attitude that his friend had been holding his place. His friend who was standing next to me never turned around. I knew that was an untruth and decided this was not the hill. There were several men in the line who noticed this interaction, and when our eyes met, they looked away.
I really do not like having to say “back in my day,” but here you go: Back in my day, we would never have continued acting like unruly kids when an adult came around. And the men who looked like they could be someone’s dads would never have tolerated the behavior. We would have tried to calm ourselves down by policing each other, giggling and doing our best to stop the behavior long enough to remove ourselves from the presence of the annoying adult.
Some of today’s young have no filter and no manners. They walk in front of you and don’t hold the door open; there is seldom a “yes sir,” a “no ma’am” or a “please” and “thank you.” It is so out of the norm that when we see or hear it, we oftentimes are taken aback. However, we should always affirm and acknowledge the respectful behavior of children by telling them that we like what we see.
Are we raising children who lack the basic skills to filter themselves and their behavior? Children are sponges — they absorb whatever environment they soak in, and once it has reached maximum fullness, what comes out is what was absorbed.
Just perhaps by changing our children’s environment we can begin the absorption process that can change their future.
• Yolande Barial is a Tracy resident and mother. Her column appears monthly in the Tracy Press. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.