What Ever Happened to Class?

One of the dinosaurs. Did I mention I like dinosaurs?
One of the dinosaurs. Did I mention I like dinosaurs?
The dinosaurs (and Stepdaughter)

The dinosaurs (and Stepdaughter)

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.

One of the dinosaurs. Did I mention I like dinosaurs?

One of the dinosaurs. Did I mention I like dinosaurs?

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?

  • Maryann

    These days lines do appear to be optional for some people. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that so much of our lives are conducted online. For instance it was normal practice to go to the bank and want in line to get served. But in the age of internet banking there are no lines. People do not want to wait, they are so impatient.

    • http://explore.johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

      Yes…the art of queuing patiently is a dying art…

      :(

      • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

        Also part of the instant gratification that came with the internet.

  • Monique Fischle

    I’d be outraged if I was surprised by this but I’m not. Common courtesy seems to be dying. I was raised to be conscious of those around me, to wait in line, to be patient (even though it’s not a virtue I really possess). Did I ever enjoy waiting in line as a child? No, but I did it because I had manners and was taught to be polite. Unfortunately, it seems that teaching manners isn’t “in” anymore.

    • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

      I suspect some people are too scared they’re going to scar their kids for life if they deny them anything or force them to wait for longer than 10 seconds. At least that’s the impression I get from a few people I’ve observed. Problem is, that breeds impatient adults, who then have kids, and the whole cycle continues.

      • Monique Fischle

        That’s the impression I get as well. It just doesn’t make sense to me, I’m not scarred from having to wait and I am thankful I wasn’t handed everything I wanted. I know people who were and they really struggled when they were older and had to realise the world doesn’t work like that.

  • http://explore.johnanthonyjames.com/ John James
    • Kris2040

      I HIGHLY recommend catching the Erth Dinosaur Petting Zoo should it be on anywhere near you. It was on at this cultural festival here and it was FANTASTIC. It’s coming back in Sept to Wollongong, I’m going to get tickets again.

      http://erth.com.au/?page_id=15

      • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

        Oh, awesome!!

        • Kris2040

          It really is. When we went, I sat down on the ground with KDot, around the ring (it was in a circus bigtop tent), and she LOVED it. Bigger kids were scared, but she had the biggest one getting right up in her face and just laughed her head off. I think the guy was (a) having fun playing with her and (b) showing the other kids that this tiny little kid could handle it!

      • Bradley

        Kris ! I am an old Wollongong boy ! As far as I’m aware, still have family there.

        • Kris2040

          I’m a migrant from Sydney, so not really a Gong girl. I do really like it, though!

  • Mazi Gray

    Occasionally I find walking about with elbows out tends to discourage people.

  • http://vanillaboy.wordpress.com Dell Lawrence

    Sounds like a song from Chicago…

    • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

      Gosh, I wonder why that is… 😉

  • http://vanillaboy.wordpress.com Dell Lawrence

    (I commented before I read the post.)

    I almost want to tell people to stop having kids because the world is in a steady decline.

    Which is not to say I’m perfect, but being a parent is hard work! I don’t have kids, but I’ve babysat four at once, and they were quite a handful! It seems that some parents aren’t prepared to be parents, or don’t care to be good ones. And then there are some that just don’t know how to be good parents. I’m not saying this as though it’s parents’ fault completely, don’t get me wrong.

    And then there’s the young people who don’t seem to care (not all of them though, there are some really good ones!). About anything but themselves. It would be interesting to see why this is, why they are that way.

    Good on The Stepdaughter to know better than the other kids. We need more young people like her.

    • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

      I suspect it’s because their parents told them growing up that they were perfect, and special, and flawless, and smart, and kind, and wonderful. Which are all nice things, but not if they aren’t true, and not to the detriment of those around you.

      • Kris2040

        When I was on prac teaching the kids brought in ipods for some reason. One made the foolish error of asking me for the wifi code after they’d been told no ipods. I took it from him, and he said “You can’t do that Miss! It’s against my rights”. I told him I was happy to go to the principal’s office and discuss it with him. He backed down.
        People tell their kids they’re all those things, but people are also really scared of kids. It has been commented on that I am not scared of them, and am comparatively strict. Most of my friends are pretty strict with their kids too, come to think of it.

  • Jessica Chapman

    Line cutting has always really irked me. I always feel like saying, “Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t realise your time was so much more important than the rest of ours. Next time your should wear a sign that lets everyone know.” But then I’m not sure I really want to be that sarcastic person either.

    • http://explore.johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

      Yeah, I usually keep quiet too because I’m not sure if I want to be known as “that guy who punches people in the face when they queue-jump…”

  • Lady Fabulous

    I didn’t notice until my husband had to be in a wheelchair for a few months. The amount of people who would look him in the eye before cutting him off or pushing in front of him was shocking!

    • Kris2040

      I never realised what a shitty time disabled people have until I had to get around with a pram. You’re restricted as to what trains and buses you can catch, which cinemas and theatres you can go to, sometimes even shopping centres and heaps of places.

      And yes, I know it’s not the same, but it’s still given me an idea.

      • Bradley

        Now I’d like to know…what is the go with “the pram” ?

        Generally it is fairly difficult trying to walk around a shopping mall with the heavy traffic consisting or other shoppers, runaway trolleys and the never ending kiosks, staff trying to engage you in conversation about some skin care product. But is there anything more terrifying than a confrontation with a phallanx of pram pushing mums ?

        Three or four wide, their toddlers all over the place, following. Nothing is going to get past them. When you finally do see a break in the traffic and manage to get yourself over to the other aisle you a confronted with yet another three or four pram traffic jam, equally determined that nothing shall pass either frontwards or backwards.

        I mean to say….is there anything wrong with single file ??????

        • Kris2040

          I don’t go out in packs of Mums to the shops, and I actually hate taking KDot in one if I can help it.
          I have an Ultimate Behemoth that we inherited from friends that retails for about $700, which is a bit on the smaller side compared to some of the prams around these days.
          Mostly I use a little fold up $25 from Big W job because we generally do short trips on public transport. I can fit the cheapo one into one seat width (so I only need to fold one seat up, and I prefer it because I can kind of wedge her in), whereas most prams take up about 4 seats worth of room. They’re ridiculous. Walking to the shops she goes in the big one, anywhere else, the little one. She goes in a trolley at the shops if I take the car.

          • Kris2040

            Oh, and one is a stroller and one is a pram. I don’t know the difference and I don’t really care.

    • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

      That’s shocking!!

  • Kris2040

    Am taking K to the zoo for the dinosaurs next week, hopefully!

    I have no problem telling people to back off in lines and stuff. Good on SD for doing so. Most of the time they know they’re doing the wrong thing, and kids will generally comply. Adults do too – I think they just get used to getting away with stuff, and when someone actually pulls them up on it, they KNOW they’re doing the wrong thing. One of my big ones is on the bus. Because I have K in the pram, I’m up the front in the flip up seats. So often people just stop at the front and lean against the baggage space. On PT, if there are seats, take them. You’re not being polite. You’re in the way. I’ve actually had people (young and old) tell me there are “No seats”. And there always are. Since when did teenagers want to sit at the front of the bus anyway??? They do generally move though – it often just takes someone saying something.

    • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

      I tend to find if you tell someone off they’re so shocked you said something that they comply without arguing.

      I’ve always wondered if that would work if I told someone to get out of my seat on the train (not because they should, just because I like that seat)

  • Melissa Savage

    I’m a veteran of two San Diego Comic Cons, where you can wait in line up to 12 hours if you are really keen. Spending a lot of time in line next to someone leads to a sense of camaraderie and often times a new friend (‘OMG, I can’t believe we both like Adventure Time!’). If you cut a line at SDCC, you face the risk of a lightsaber being shoved somewhere unmentionable. I have no problem telling people off for cutting in, although it did used to embarrass me at your stepdaughter’s age when my mum would put on her school teacher voice and do it. I’m also not scared of nerds like I’m scared of mainstream people so I tend to be too timid about half the time, especially somewhere like the zoo.

    • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

      I’m not sure if this makes me more or less of a nerd – but I found the same thing lining up to get an iPhone.

      • Kris2040

        Yes it does. I know lots of people make great friends doing things like lining up for concert tickets, or to get in the front row, where you have to line up outside, then wait for aaaaaaaaaaaages when you’re inside. Maybe it’s the online thing killing that – you don’t go and sleep out for concert tickets anymore, you just sit there refreshing the website until you get through…

  • Bradley

    To quote a line from one of my favourite Aussie films….our children are the sum of us.

    It has been my experience to find that a pig ignorant, unruly child has the same traits as it’s parents.

    Parents don’t want to teach their kids manners. They believe that’s what school teachers are for.