I’d like to preface this by advising I am currently suffering from a lack of sleep and a severe need to recharge my batteries. So I’m pretty cranky, but I still feel it needs to be said.
Last weekend I went to the Zoo. It was pretty awesome. They had dinosaurs. It was me, The Viking, The Stepdaughter, two friends and their almost-3-year-old. Upon arrival I realised I had never seen so many 4WDs and prams together in the one place, nor so many people up and about at 9am. Spot the person who doesn’t have kids, right?
So we lined up, we went in, and all was going well. We had seen a couple of the dinosaurs and came across one that wasn’t robotic which you could sit on. Huzzah! There was a mother with her 2 kids on the dinosaur taking photos, so we all lined up. Myself, Viking and Stepdaughter, and my friends and their toddler who were in front of us. I’d like to stress at this point that there was a line with a toddler in it. I feel that’s important.
So as this mother is removing her kids from the dinosaur, and one of them is having a cry about having to leave it (which we were all sympathetic about) a bunch of kids ranging in age from 6-9, about 6 of them, come running up and jump on the dinosaur, all at once. Crying kid (about 4) is almost run over, his mother swiftly sweeps him into her arms, and all the kids push in front of the toddler in line.
I was aghast. But it seemed I was alone (apart from the other members of my party) as their parents came after them, laughing at how hilarious their kids are, and took photos while the kids pushed and shoved at each other.
I quickly realised, as we wandered through the zoo, that this wasn’t an isolated incident either. As almost-3-year-old waited in line to control a robotic dinosaur she was pushed in front of by some bigger kids. A few minutes later in the same line, Stepdaughter was pushed in front of (who, being 13 years old now, promptly told them they needed to go to the back of the line). Similar things happened everywhere we went, and upon observing the parents it became clear pretty quickly where the behaviour had been learnt.
I saw one teen shove her brother into a wall (almost hitting me) and her dad shoved her back, laughing as he did so.
I’m sure we’ve all been in situations where people have pushed in front of us, in line for a cafe, in line for a seal show, in line for giraffe feeding (OK, so these are just the examples from that one day at the zoo, but it’s happened many times before) and it makes me wonder – when did society switch from orderly etiquette to me-first-me-first? My generation often gets blamed for this behaviour (Ugh, typical Gen Y) and I am aware lots of my generation do suffer from me-first-syndrome but it’s not simply a generational thing, there seems to have been a shift in society.
To quote Chicago – What ever happened to class? While some people are busy worrying about how classy it is to be breastfeeding your child in public, I’m more worried about demonstrating a little bit of class in polite society. Giving way to others. Respecting lines, order, boundaries and personal space. Doing something nice every once in a while. Because if we can’t do the right thing, how can we possibly expect our kids to?
Note: There were also lots of polite people at the Zoo. But, like everything in life, the ones who refuse to follow the rules ruin it for the rest of us.
Have we, as a society, given up on class and etiquette? Do you encounter this attitude in your daily life? Do you think me-first is a perfectly valid way to live?