Monday, July 16, 2007


Yesterday, on the spur of the moment, RaggedyDad and I decided to take the kids to the beach. Since I am a Very Pale Person, even more exacerbated by the fact that I am mostly relegated to my couch for the next few weeks, I broke out the SPF 50 and we all got ready.

In truth, since I'm not very good at being spontaneous, I really would have preferred to have our bags ready and sandwiches sitting in the fridge from the night before. But for yesterday's outing, we hadn't had much of a prior plan, so there was an early morning flurry of activity trying to figure out what we needed to bring along.

To me, the logistics of the beach are very complicated with small children. More extra clothes, more mess, and more damage control (of course, not wanting to turn the RaggedyVan into its own private beach). Let's estimate our 'plastic bags of stuff' count at about 6. The cleanup proceedings for leaving the beach are lengthy and gritty. As always, I took home the award for Most Dressed Person at the Beach.

It was certainly a far cry from the daily routine my mother and I had until I was 5, hopping on the bus and going to the beach in Tel Aviv for the brief morning hours when my brothers were at school. I don't think we ever brought much more stuff along than a pail, shovel, and busfare. The choko-banana ice cream pops sold by beach-walking vendors was more than enough provisions.

Thankfully, a few simple toys were more than sufficient. Due to their ages and temperaments, it really was enough for Ann and Andy to just be somewhere special, without necessarily doing anything in particular. Splashing with their Papa, coming back to my outpost for a bite of sandwich, and digging until they could reach the water provided more than enough fun for a couple of hours. And I got to see the progress the kids have made since last summer. Instead of treating the sand like lunch, Andy used it more sparingly, perhaps as more of a condiment.

As we were leaving, a family was setting up a few feet away. Three adult women and four kids (aged maybe 4-11?)between them, they were probably well suited for a show like this. Cursing, smoking, rudeness, and carrying on were the order of the day. The language of the oldest two boys was yikes-inducing, as was the extreme chutzpah with which they spoke to the parents. And of course, there was the hard plastic ball they chose to bat around with force right near us until a few choice glares we sent their way put a stop to it. During our short overlap time, one boy in this family in particular did not stop carrying on, kicking sand in anger, complaining, insulting his mother, and whining about nothing to do and nobody to play with.

My concern is this: How do parents make sure that their kids don't morph into these types of creatures as the years go by? I know it's a matter of chinuch, but what,if any, are the specifics that successful parents can identify in the quest to avoid these results? I realize that my kids are very small, which makes them satisfied with the basics. There is definitely a culture of respect, of appreciation, and of not having every little thing that RaggedyDad and I try to cultivate at hom. But at some point, our children will grow into their own identities, and we just have to hope that they stay more beauty than beast.

What do some of you, parents or not, think is the key to brat-proofing?


mother in israel said...

If I had the answer to that, I'd be a millionaire. But the simple answer is to treat your child as a person, from birth, not an object that has to be controlled, and set a positive example.

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Nice you went to the beach. It's tough to brat proof just do good modeling and hope and pray.

mother in israel said...

Another thing: The difference between successful parenting and unsuccessful, is that if things start to go wrong, as they do for most parents at some point, the successful ones can take a step back and change direction. They don't give up on the situation. The unsuccessful ones just go on as they are and blame everything else for their kids' problems. You can know them by statements such as: "I don't know what to do with them." (A statement I have made too many times myself, I'm still learning. . .)

orieyenta said...

How fun...a day at the beach with the Raggedys. (I hear you on the "most dressed at the beach" thing - that's usually me too!)

I think that there's probably no way to ensure against bratiness but I think good parenting is the key :)

Scraps said...

Having no child-rearing experience myself, I'm not really in a position to give advice in that area. However, my parents think that their "no-whining rule" helped make my sister and me into reasonable human beings as we grew older.

Baleboosteh said...

I think if you bring them up to have good manners and be well behaved as they grow older they will know what is right and what is wrong, plus they learn from example from you and RaggedyDad.

I think kids that are left to run loose are the ones that will be harder to deal with as they get older.

SephardiLady said...

I think parents need to be makpid on their own kavod and try to be good role models themselves of proper ways of speaking.

One battle I see coming up with the chutzpah battle. Bad language is not nearly as problematic as in the general world. But, chuptzah might be more so.

About 2 years ago I worked in a rec center with minority kids, mostly from one parent households. The children were such as a pleasure. They spoke with such respect and were so pleasant to be around, with a few notable expections. Let's just say I did not have the same experience in our own frum schools where the chutzpah oozed (sp?). But, I'm sure these kids used bad language outside of the facility (it was not tolerated inside) and had other ideas I wouldn't want to expose my kids to.

I worry about what I will end up exposing my children to as they get older. Broken homes as the norm will not be something they will be exposed to. Chutzpah probably will, as will an out of control materialism that I never saw in my own days in public school.

I guess you can't have it all. :)

I'm sure your kids will be just fine. I is obvious you are making a great environment for them.

Ariella said...

You model good behavior and hope for the best. But you cannot mold them altogether, for each individual has free choice.