I am a proud parent of two outstanding young men who are currently High School Students. To have a part in helping them to become responsible and caring adults, my wife and I have always made sure that they knew how to properly behave in public and also know how to interact in public.
I remember the first trip we took with my oldest – to an annual ministerial meeting. After enduring a night of some sleep with the hope neither of the rooms on either side of us heard him – we ventured with Him into an important meeting with many adults. He was just a few weeks old.
A colleague and someone that I have grown to admire was the speaker for the morning session. He was emphatic, inspirational, and spoke for well over 30 minutes. And my son slept through the entire presentation not too far from the speaker’s dais! A restaurant visit (actually several) was part of that time as well and we successfully navigated them all!
Fast forward about five years later. A vacation to a well-known amusement park in the Midwestern U.S. resulted in me holding our youngest through a sit down amusement experience that turned scary for him and frustrating for me. The park employee told me, as I sat in the very back, with my son, that he had to sit in his seat. Then the experience started.
Probably twenty minutes later, I took a screaming child from among the dirty looks of other patrons, and quickly exited the hall. Looking for a quiet spot away from the crowd, I worked to comfort him wishing I would have gotten out of there before the presentation started.
These experiences have illustrated to me the opportunities, and pitfalls, of taking children to more adult oriented places. Some have gone well and few have not.
But, the value of doing so is seen when my wife and I know that when they go out with friends or another family, they know how to appropriately act in public. And as they get older, they are a pleasure to interact with, even when dad starts telling his puns or acting silly himself!