Screaming Kids, Deaf Parents

Well, I have to do it. I have to say something unpopular again about this generation of parents in this part of Brooklyn un-raising their kids to their ultimate future detriment. Last night I went to the Brooklyn New School's "Extravaganza," a kind of talent night in which the elementary-age student participants are allowed to showcase their talents for comedy, music, poetry, dance, etc., in original ways, created by the students. Sounds like a pretty enlightened concept, right? And indeed, as public schools go, BNS is pretty enlightened, certainly when compared to the absurdly - and undeservedly - vaunted PS 321.
Unfortunately, just like last year's Extravaganza, the show was a debacle... and here's why: there was no adult presence present. Oh, there were plenty of parents there, plenty of people between the ages of 35 and 55, but there weren't any grown-ups! A number of the said parents saw fit to bring their screaming infants and bored, talkative toddlers to the event, making it next to impossible to enjoy or focus on the efforts of the older kids on stage trying to express something. (Many other parents there, without babies in tow since their kids were now older, but feeling guilty and identified with the disrupters nonetheless, didn't say anything to silence the rudeness, even though the director of the Extravaganza, Jose, implored the audience to show some respect for the young performers on stage.) Why did these people bring their babies to an evening talent show (just as they fought to be able to bring them to local bars)? So the tots could absorb the cultural experience? Have a social night out with other 3-month olds? Hello?! Does not their wailing and restlessness indicate that they are in an inappropriate environment? And let's not even mention the blatant rudeness of these hapless parents not caring in the slightest bit whether there might have been some other parents there who actually wanted to hear their 4th grader deliver her version of "Who's On First?" (One of the few skits I could actually enjoy, only because I once performed it in high school and so had all the lines memorized and didn't totally need to hear above the din of the miserably uncomfortable little ones.)
Here's the really saddest thing, though, to me, as a therapist who has done a lot of work with children: these kids are used to not being heard. They are indulged and raised without boundaries and treated like faux princes and princesses, but they are not heard. They are put on stage, literally and figuratively, by their vicariously acting out, emotionally needy, egotistical parents... and then ignored, only to later be cooed over, while watching the video tape. In one of the most poignant and powerful moments of the evening, two girls performed a beautiful piece combining music and original poetry, in which one of the actors expressed a desperate desire to scream in order to be heard by the adult world. I wonder how many parents were actually listening.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It must be nice to have the luxury of an on call babysitter (and the money to pay for one). My kids aren't at an age yet where one or the other is performing at an event like this, my my fussy infant often barges in--as I imagine you would think of it--on events where my toddler should be center stage because there's no other way for me to manage it. If my toddler needs to be there, and I need to be there , and my husband is at work (or wants to be there too), then by necessity, my infant is often there.

It frightens me that you're a therapist working with children and you don't seem to grasp the hard economic reality of so many families today. Or maybe you've just been living in gentrified Brooklyn for too long.


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