5 comments on “Quick Thoughts: Kids, Coffeeshops, and Control

  1. I forgot one of the more important things I intended to put in here: I don’t think kids should ever be in college classroom. I don’t think that college should ever not provide affordable full-time childcare for students and staff. I’ve never had a student ask to bring a child, but I would either say yes, were it an unavoidable thing (it’s really not ideal), or offer to get them the lecture. The only time I’ve ever… well, I don’t excuse absences, but not marked a student absent was a student who called me to say that her six year old had pneumonia and was on a ventilator in the hospital. She wanted to know if she could leave a few minutes early to get back to the hospital between the class and her night shift. That, not abstract children in abstract classrooms, is what I take for a starting point in thinking about these things.

  2. I’m almost always baffled when someone uses the word “hate” in casual speech. It’s grating. (So, now I’m going to use this space of yours to figure out why that is. Please excuse me.)

    “I hate tacos.”
    “I hate blondes.
    “I hate liberals.”

    I think it irks me because in that context the word is necessarily hyperbolic on top of being a generalization (and I have a huge problem with generalizations). Using “hate” in any context creates a distance between the object and the speaker. “Hate” defines the object of scorn while also making it clear that the speaker is separate from said object. I find that separation is exaggerated in a casual speech setting, particularly with words like “hate” and “love,” and that to me is maddening. How can one feel an emotion as deep and powerful as love or hate for something without defining it? “I hate liberals”? “I hate poor people”? I mean, I know I’m deliberately looking past the nature of figurative language here, but do these casual absolutes bother anyone else?

    It’s the context, I think. I don’t hate anyone. I love perhaps four people. Maybe it’s just me. Extremes really bother me, though.

    (Note: Completely unrelated to my unrelated response to your good post, I immediately thought of Kinley when reading the first paragraph and was thus pleased to see I was justified in making that connection upon reaching the third paragraph. Do you still keep in touch then? Man, sometimes I miss those days back in the Black Hole. . . )

    • I agree – and maybe it’s just that using it to describe people demonstrates that distance as a totalized thing. I mean, it’s possible, if silly, to genuinely feel toward a taco an emotion I would consider “hate,” but I don’t think it really matters all that much. I guess it might if you start destroying taco stands, but… ultimately, I think hating people, as you’re gesturing toward, isn’t really ever casual, even if you intend it as such. There is an absolute finality that exists in those words that the most you can do is either indicate you were using hate as a general figure of speech or deny the sentiment (both forms of the same thing: “Well, I don’t *really* hate the poor” or “Well, I don’t mean that, I mean I really dislike tacos.”) I always think it’s vaguely irritating when people question why you say you hate something (Is that really what you mean, or do you dislike it?), and I think a large part of that is that it undersells it: I don’t think you could use the kind of totalized “othering” that occurs in hate on a continuum with other things. Though I’ve been wrong before.
      And yes! I actually sent her a link to this blog, since we’d traded some emails, and I stayed with her and Nathan for part of the summer. Aren’t you near the Omaha area these days? Or am I just doing that thing I do where I forget there are places between the Alliance/Chadron axis and the Lincoln/Omaha area?

  3. While I think it is important to socialize children in public places (coffee shops, movie theatres, museums, restaurants), I think responsible parents should also do everything possible to make sure that their child behaves within reason. There has to be a reciprocal respect.
    I am always shocked at how many of my facebook acquaintances think spanking/physical violence is not only appropriate, but an essential and necessary part of parenting. I was raised on, “Children should be seen and not heard.” A couple of years ago, we had a couple babysit Ellis, and when we went to pick him up, the dad spanked his son (really hard) until the boy was crying hysterically. Nathan and I felt really awkward about the whole thing, but we never said anything to the dad. A few years ago, a single mother with three children (and obviously really stressed) started hitting one of her kids. I wonder, when is it appropriate to say something or interfere, even if it is just to voice your opinion? I’m always leery about getting in another person’s business. Is it fair to say that everyone has a bad day? Or is that just really irresponsible?
    I completely agree about the viral video with the dad shooting his daughter’s computer—really inappropriate. Do you remember the video with the girl being beaten with a belt by her dad, and then her mother, and coming out with the video over a decade after the event? Her dad was a judge in Texas, and a lot of people criticized her motives for releasing the videos so long after the actual event. She claimed that her parents were in the middle of a divorce, and the father was trying to get custody of the younger daughter. She was trying to prevent her father from having custody because she feared for her sister. The judge, who found his actions completely appropriate, said that his daughter was just getting revenge because he had cut off her allowance. The arguments about the video seemed really strange because, whatever the motives, the video was incredibly disturbing and would have qualified as abuse. The girl seemed more on trial by the public than her dad.
    There have been times with Ellis where I’ve “lost my cool” and said something really inappropriate to him or jerked his arm or physically put him in a “timeout” corner, but I think anytime a parent loses control, they become clownish. There’s never actually been a time (even when Ellis was really little) where talking to him, hasn’t had some good result. Explanations go a long way.
    I’ve never asked if my son could attend a college class. I think there are times when bringing a child to class would be appropriate: when the kid is completely capable of not causing a disruption to the class and when the class lecture would be appropriate for that kid to hear. A math class, an accounting class, or a biology class is probably a pretty safe bet, but many of the Humanities classes take unexpected turns in conversation and wouldn’t be appropriate. Though, my mom used to take me to her college classes at a community college in Torrington, WY, and I remember her being very grateful to that professor because she wouldn’t have been able to attend night classes (or college) if he hadn’t allowed us to come.
    Arielle—I was so surprised to see your name! If you’re near Omaha, we should meet up. I’m expecting a new baby any day now, so I would have to bring the little jerk to a restaurant or coffee shop… 😉

    • Kinley, I think you have some really good points. What I was thinking, in regard to the first point, is that there are times when a child misbehaves in public and I think it’s rude of the parents not to do anything. What worries me is the idea people have that not having kids in a public space is somehow on a continuum with discussions of the positions people take: that is, I think that their is a fundamental difference between encouraging personal responsibility and extending what people have called the “coding of spaces as adult” to nearly all public areas.
      As for going to classes: I think it could be inappropriate in some cases. One thing that came up in a seminar last semester in reference to something else is closer to why it becomes an issue in the first place. Universities like this SUNY have free medical care (more or less), fees for having events (they brought in The Fray, so maybe those fees aren’t that big…), etc. Why do none of these fees go to providing free, reliable child care for students and staff? Or, how about this: if we don’t, then we should at least declare that if you can’t afford both child care and college expenses, we’re not that interested in having you here.

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