Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Family Outings

Family outings can conjure up many images to mind. A picnic at a park. A holiday at the beach. Maybe even an evening watching a movie ( more about that later). But, in my city, it seems, the favourite family outing is to the local supermarket.

It is not just ma, pa, two kids. But the whole extended family. Ma in law, Pa in law, granny all in tow. Our supermarkets, however big, are not enough for the teeming millions. The aisles always seem narrow. Two persons and their shopping carts are enough to create a ‘jam’. And you can well imagine the scene, when a lady and her mother- in- law are discussing which of the pastas to buy, or why the cooker should be bought at the other store where it is cheaper, while their kids are having a whale of a time playing hide and seek behind racks and weaving in and out at 100 miles per hour between shoppers and their carts.

I guess it is the great family bonding. But at the supermarket?

Well, maybe then the eateries? My daughter, tells me that in the UK, at any restaurant, if you ever hear the voices of children after 7 pm, you can be sure it is an Asian family. They are the only ones who bring their kids out so late. Wee Willie Winkie has no bearing on them. Are your children in their beds for it’s past 8 o’clock? No way!

I am no kid hater. I am fond of them. But I cannot have a screaming kid at the next table, throwing cutlery on the floor, or in this situation still playing hide and seek, but under the table. While I sit nervously through the meal, wondering when the table cloth will be brought down with the butter chicken and the biryani, the family is enjoying theirs with no worry or anxiety. Next to me, is my companion, gritting teeth and holding a fork so menacingly, that it adds to my tension. A mild… beta, baby, sweetie and other endearments occasionally being uttered. Am I glad to finish and get out of the place? You bet.

As far as I am concerned, kids, loud and ill-behaved, even if they are mine, are brats.

Late night movies are no exception. Any given day, there are children as young as five who are watching movies with their parents . They must be getting into bed well after midnight and setting off for school the next day, all bleary eyed.

I do realise that the disappearance of joint families may be the cause for kids tagging along with parents to social dos and such outings. But some amount of ‘sacrifice’ on part of elders may be appropriate.

Before the children arrived, we watched movies every week , dined out, met friends and generally had fun. The elder one arrived and all that changed. Everything came to a halt. We did not step into a movie theatre for almost two years.

Finally there was this movie that was a big hit. My father in law, a movie buff, had seen it four times already. We decided to go and watch the movie, almost a month after it had been released. With an understanding that F-I-L will take the child outside if required. So we trooped into the theatre. The theatre was full! I guess everyone else with the exception of us, were watching it for the nth time. The ‘baby’ enjoyed the ads, and as the lights dimmed, we hoped she would fall asleep. Somewhere after the first half hour the theatre guys turned up the sound, disturbed her slumber and she whimpered. We looked at F-I-L, but he was engrossed, even quietly singing along. Out went the father. A good fifteen minutes later, feeling rather guilty, I went out too, hoping our absence would be noticed. But it did not work. We went home, without watching the movie. FIL enjoyed the movie the 5th time.

I narrated this to the elder one recently. Told her when she had kids she could perhaps stay at home, so that unpleasant situations in public places are avoided. Gave her my favourite sermon that ‘adults need to make sacrifices’. ‘Stay at home’. ‘Missing a social event, a movie is no big deal’, I told her.

‘Why should I?’, she said, 'when I can leave the kids behind in your care?'

Life has come a full circle. The next generation family outings will just be the adults minus kids. While we would still be home holding the fort.


  1. Of late I notice that people come to the supermarket dressed for a party!

    LOL at your daughter's response. We have not even *thought* about stepping into a theatre :)

  2. Nice post. Loved reading it. I have seen some parents discipline their kids at home if they do something wrong. In public place or in someone else's home, they just let their children loose and even enjoy.

  3. Verrrrrrryyy Nice! I feel the same when I see ill behaved kids at restaurants or supermarkets, but I realise its not the kids who are to be blamed but the parents who are ill-behaved for letting their child be the reason inconvenience to others in a public place.

    What used to be unacceptable behaviour when we were kids is acceptable now. Why?

    I dont know what the future holds but I have my fingers crossed for my kids;-)

  4. Your post gave me food for thought..i will keep all these things in my mind:)

  5. Oh yes- the family outing should ideally be to the beach or a park. There the children can run around to their heart's content without annoying other people!

    My husband and I did go to the movies a couple of times when our children were toddlers, but not often. We were lucky that both sets of grandparents would occasionally look after them at home while we were out. :)

  6. HA ha ....like that mother in law discussing the pasta at the aisle.

  7. Arundati - yes, they do come so well dressed to the supermarket,don't they?
    SG - Parents are so calm while their kids are on a rampage. I do 'admire' them.
    Gopu - We have to wait and see :-)
    Anamika - please do!
    Manju - Ideally yes - at the beach or park. My F-I-L was great at taking care of the granddaughter, but at movies ,nothing could ever disturb his concentration.
    Haddock - you (over)hear the most amusing conversations at supermarkets.

  8. he he he! The good news is she knows what she will do in her adulthood. :)

    Yes, the culture in Europe is different from US. I always felt the US restaurants are more kid friendly! The waiters make it a point to pamper the kids.

    The European government give better benefits to families with kids. Ironically, the restaurants are not kid friendly.

  9. Yes, I see folks in very fancy outfits at the supermarket.
    I do wish parents would be more responsive to and responsible for their children when they are out with them.

  10. Radha, I like the zinger at the end :-)

  11. even I cant tolearate those brats who are the norm today..I never encourage my kids tobehave like that..and yes we couldnt see the movie when children were young, once we went to see .mera naam joker and my husband didnt see even one third, as he was out entertaining my son:)

    pampering one's kid at the expese of others is just not my idea of being educated or modern.

  12. yes ! The supermarket is the new social outing destination ! I have even seen parents with month old children .
    I wonder if they have these cars with kids behind the wheel and a shopping cart thingy at the back at supermarkets your side !? Makes me want to incarcerate the parents . And talking of letting go of small pleasures - we put most of them on the back burner and worked our socialising around the babies .

  13. You observe a lot. :) So well related these tiny details.
    Extend it to tourism too. It is mostly Asian parents who tour with kids.

  14. children staying up late, children mis behaving at malls and at eateries, children sitting in the front seat of a car, children being called by every name other than what their name is... yes I guess we are all guilty of this.

  15. I have also noticed the same in markets...but atleast you get to see some of the little, cute kids pranks...

  16. loved it reading
    nice post

  17. I have come to your blog space from SG's blog.
    Your last few lines are very true.
    Feels good to read such posts.

  18. Very well written. I bet many people have had the same experience.Ill behaved kids really get my goat.

  19. True, malls & supermarkets are becoming a popular family hangout! But I guess it can't be helped in some cases. No joint family system that you can bank on, maid off for the weekend, gotto buy provisions, husband refuses to go on his own...the only other choice is to march with the entire jing-bang. However, parents should teach kids how to behave in such places.

    OK, I confess. I take my kids out during the weekends to malls, eateries, parks and what have you...because the whole of the week they're indoors, and they need to see the world too;D

    Loved reading your post!

  20. I felt as if I was reading about my experiences!

    We did not go to the movies for 2 years after my first one was born! When we went to 'Amar akbar antony' with my one year old second son with my sister's family, he was happy clapping his hands until the ads were over...then started crying! My husband took him out and brought him inside when the songs started and the baby was happy...again go out!

    I too hate watching movies late at night with kids. Never did that.

    Enjoyed reading this post, Radha, brought back sweet memories.

    Life is a full circle!

  21. Eve's Lungs - thank god we do not have those things here. Many of us would have a nervous breakdown
    Indrani, Dipali - true. But on long tours it is difficult to 'dump' kids on others. So you may have to take them along. And long air travel can make even normal well behaved kids a little cranky.
    Arti,Sujatha - childish pranks are fine.After all we are parents too. Beyond that it is not fair on others.
    Rama, SM,Kallu - Thank you
    Neena,Samvedna - Glad to know I am not the only one who feels the same way.
    RGB- Do take your kids out if you have no choice. ANd yes, they do need to have some fun too. But as long as they behave, do not scream and throw a tantrum outdoors. Sandhya- :-)

  22. Oh I have had such situation. I was enjoying my outing at a restaurant when a very ill behaved kid from the next table was really troubling us. His mom was totally oblivious to it. We were so disturbed. So finally I got up and told her to manage her kid. Guess what- she came fighting. Said she had the right to come there as much as I had. She called the manager and the manager in turn asked her to leave because everybody was disturbed by her. I think the parents should at least manage their kids and not let them disturb others.

  23. he he YEah your daughter said right about children in UK.. but then dont agree with asian its anyone not just asians.. and 8pm NO WAY i see hundreds out on roads as late as 10 and THEY are 90% WHite or BLACK kids and Asian kids might not sleep but they dont go around on roads ... Where does you daughter live :)

    Though i do agree that i woud not want a screaming kid on next table, but then kids are kids thats what they do.. I am sure i did it loads tooo...
    Agree with BRATS .. dont like them

    agree with you on kids going to mvies and sleeping so late.. if parents got to go go on weekend so they dont have to be tired in school the next day...

    he hehee I like the answer leave the kids in your care and why not ha ha haha :) nice one

  24. Radha, you are right on the dot once again. We were brought up to behave ourselves not only in public places but also when we visited relatives and friends of our parents. We try to do the same with our son. The only movies we have been to with him are kid's movies. He is not comfortable with confined restaurant spaces, no matter how kid friendly. So we opt for take-out or go for lunches when he is in preschool.

    Not sure where your daughter lives, but I have seen American kids and Asian kids misbehave in restaurants. And I have seen the same demographic behave too. I think it is more of how the parents bring them up then anything else.
    Some parents feel guilty working all week and don't want to or know how to discipline the kids. They forget that kids not only need discipline but they thrive on boundries.


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