Today I played fiddle for a band at Terrhune Orchards in Princeton, New Jersey. There was apple picking and pumpkin painting and all sorts of kid-friendly stuff so I brought not only my family, but also a friend and her 3-year-old daughter. It's a nice day trip for kids, though I'm not sure how much longer they'll be doing it. It was a bit on the cold side out there.
We had to play four hours, and on the way back we were starving. Route 1 is full of chain restaurants and we picked the one that offended the most people the least. They had Sam Adams Octoberfest on tap, which made it seem a little better than it really was. But what I really noticed was the family that took the booth next to us.
They had two young children, one of whom was crying loudly. A waitress tried to calm her down, telling her about the wonderful coloring contest they were having, but she was having none of it. In fact, she wouldn't calm down until Mom and Dad plopped a laptop in front of her and started playing video on it. Their son, a little older and a little calmer, knew how to open his and was already wearing his earphones, oblivious to the noise little sister was making.
I watched these two kids, no more than seven years old, and felt relieved they lived in Jersey. It's likely no one I know will ever have to teach them. They cannot sit down for more than one minute without being entertained, and appear to have every expectation that's what will happen each time they sit down. They don't talk to Mom and Dad except to cry until their laptops are opened and their earphones are placed on their heads. And they eat while they watch their laptops.
I get irritated when my daughter takes out her phone to text someone when we're eating. She thinks I'm nuts, and I'm not saying she's wrong. But we don't do that at the table.
I wonder how those young children will behave when they're at school, and expected to actually interact with people. It looks to me like Mom and Dad find that inconvenient and have taught them there's no need for it.
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