Children don’t understand decorum.
They don’t know that society has rules. That society demands you behave in a certain way in certain places. It’s called being civilized.
Children are not civilized. My two-year-old might as well be a rabid animal most of the time.
Getting him to behave the way one is supposed to behave is impossible.
Toddlers are like Tarzan, or like Howie Mandel in that terrible movie where he was raised by wolves. Trying to assimilate them into polite society is bound to backfire. It’s your own fault for expecting them to behave any differently at a restaurant than they do in the jungle (your house). The disgusting creatures can barely even speak English.
It’s largely about context. In the jungle, it’s not that out of the ordinary to swing around on vines and yell and fling feces and eat garbage. The problem arises when you leave the jungle. The behavior doesn’t change based on the situation or his surroundings. A two-year-old will act the same way at a funeral as he does in his bedroom. Not that we’ve taken him to a lot of funerals. But we have tried to feed him soup at a restaurant. What’s cute at home is The Exorcist in public. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost hurled myself out a window in the hopes I’d break my neck.
Here is a list of things my son does that are inappropriate outside of the home. Often these are inappropriate inside the home too, but we’re used to that. Everything is worse when it’s done in public.
- He screams. It’s not exactly the Tarzan scream but it’s close enough.
- He screams at the library.
- He screams at the grocery store.
- He screams at the restaurant.
- He screams in the car.
- He dances. In public! More power to him. But I would never be caught doing it!.
- He climbs on everything.
- He bangs on everything.
- He runs in stores.
- He runs in the street.
- He runs at bedtime.
- He runs down hallways and in parking lots and through office buildings. We really need a leash.
- He shits himself.
- He shits himself at the library.
- He shits himself at the grocery store.
- He shits himself at the restaurant.
- He shits himself in the car, and in the street, and at daycare, and at friends’ houses, and at the circus, and at a baseball game, and at a parade, and at the zoo, and at the store, and at the other store, and at every store, and at the doctor… Let’s just change this to “he shits himself everywhere he’s ever been and will ever be for the foreseeable future.”
- He shits himself everywhere he’s ever been and will ever be for the foreseeable future.
- He covers himself in filth everywhere he goes. Sandboxes, puddles, dirt piles (aka sandboxes), the food on his plate, the food on your plate, anything even potentially sticky. It all ends up on him.
- He throws everything he can get his hands on. Toys, crayons, utensils, condiments, food, cups, phones, punches.
As you can see, most of his inappropriate behavior comes down to three things: being loud, running around, and having poor bowel control. And proper etiquette at the dinner table. Just like Tarzan! Or Cheetah, Tarzan’s pet monkey that’s inexplicably named after a different animal. My two-year-old is basically a hairless monkey.
We have little hope of civilizing such a beast, but it might be a good idea to cut back on his Curious George intake.