Monday, February 16, 2015

Lord of the Flies comes to Ontario

Has the world changed and I haven't changed with it? I'll lay out my sorry little tale and you can let me know.  I serially need feedback on this. I agreed to travel almost five hours by car to address some combined  book clubs on my new memoir,  Coming Ashore.  It is my own fault I agreed to go so far. I was lulled by the Ontario Address and had no idea it was so far from Toronto. It felt like I circled Algonquin Park at least twice. All I know is I kept seeing the same trees.

The book club was arranged for 1:00 in the afternoon so I would have time to get back home on the same day. The host offered to put me up for the night, but that seemed more trouble than it was worth.

When I got there I realized the woman giving the group was a grandmother. This is not unusual since I have written three memoirs, the first one dates from the 50s', the second, the 60's and the last one is the 70's.  It is common for me to have an older audience for they remembered those years. I myself am sixty-seven so it is not rare to have grandmothers exchanging pictures of their grandchildren.

 The unusual thing at this event is that the grandchildren were there with their mother who was visiting. They were two lively preschool boys ( age 4 and 5)  who ran around during the luncheon preceding the talk, knocking over glasses, grabbing food with their hands and crawling under the table, etc. I guess this is what kids do today. I have no idea since I have not been in contact with children since I had my own thirty some years ago. Their behaviour seemed neanderthal but I shrugged it off.

Then it was time for me to give my book talk and for the club to begin. We moved to the living room where forty chairs were set up in a circle.  I could tell there were some serious readers there for they had post-its in their books and some of them had taken writing courses in Banff and wanted to write memoirs themselves.  Also several of the women, like me,  had travelled a long way.  The daughter did not remove the two boys. They shouted, crawled around, played gun games, and generally disrupted. They also whined and constantly demanded food from the mother, however they hadn't eaten their lunch.  No one corrected them or told them to leave the room. I assumed that the mother would take them out when she saw how disruptive they were. As time went on and they were not curtailed in any way they became more disruptive.

Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and said, "I'm sorry I can't hear any of the questions, nor can I concentrate on what I am saying. The children are too disruptive." No one said anything. Someone asked a question three times and I couldn't hear them. The kids kept going and finally I said, "I'm sorry either the kids leave or I have to go. This is an adult event."  The grandmother looked stonily at me and the daughter said, "We are a family.  The kids are having a wonderful time.  I said "I have no doubt about that, but I am not, nor is anyone else in the room." I looked around the room for support, but  everyone just looked down. Finally one woman said to me, "Cathy, that is how my grandchildren act. No one even sits at dinner. It is the new parenting called child-centred. I guess we are used to it." I got the feeling those present thought I was an old fuddy-duddy who didn't  understand modern times.

I said I was not used to it nor did I approve of it, packed up and sped out of that driveway as fast as reverse could carry me. As I drove past their picture window I saw them all sitting there in a circle held captive by two pre schoolers. Better them than me I thought as I headed for the velvet quiet home.

 Is this how children are supposed to act today? Is there no disciple? This can't be normal or remotely good for children.  I wonder if others have run into this. What surprised me was no one came to my defence. Am I that out of it? I felt like I was on Mars of some troubled planet that resembled the book Lord or the Flies.


  1. Cathy, I'm not educated on this stuff - just a mom and step-grandmother. I do not feel you are "that out of it." Children are undisciplined today and it's to the detriment of everyone.

    I don't know about everywhere else, but in my area I don't think it's quite that bad yet.

    I just hope you got paid ahead of time.

  2. This is the reason I still hope you'll write more books. It is incredibly inspiring to read about how confident and outspoken you were as a young girl and woman. But I often wonder how you would react to the many problems that middle-aged women face. I know I would find inspiration in that as well.

    In this case, I both laugh at and applaud what you did at the book club. At the very minimum, there should be respect for the guest of honour.

  3. "Is there no disciple?" LOL - not on the troubled planet you described... An article about a happy planet:

  4. There is no parenting anymore. Children must be entertained and kept happy at all times. Teaching manners, courtesy and respect for others has no place in modern parenting. It's too much effort, apparently. I loved your walk-out response. Would that I could do that in public spaces, especially airplanes and restaurants!

  5. Maybe those boys should get full-time jobs...

  6. Could not have said it better - unfortunately I am still in the workforce and it's populated now with what I will call "self-centred semi adults" - a result no doubt of this new child centered parenting and sadly they don't get any better. Cathy you were right to leave but I am surprised to hear no one supported your view - was the kid the great grand child of the local Mayor or similar so everyone was afraid to speak up? Shades of scenes from "the Help" only in a child rearing arena with everyone afraid to speak up. PS - absolutely love your memoirs - but then I am of "that age". Thank you for this insight into your world and the knowledge that I'm not the only one who thinks there is something wrong with this picture.