Saturday, April 19, 2008

Monticello

We spent the day in Charlottesville, VA. The main purpose was to take a look see at the grand home of our third president, Thomas Jefferson. Everything was going well until half way into the tour when "all the families" were asked to "wait outside" and that the parents should "take turns" to complete the tour. We just so happened to be in a group that included several children. Our girls were among the eldest. However the 4 boys and one small toddler were having quite a time with the concept of "no touching" as repeated several times by our guide. That and the parents were complete morons. Seriously people. I have children. Two. Been through the most awful and terrible touchy and rowdy times, and sometimes they seem yet to be over, however I do tend to be on alert in places with priceless artifacts. Still it shocks me to see how other parents are too blinded by the perfection of their children to notice their little darling bouncing on the antique furniture in a historic home. I think what put our guide in the moment of panic was when the toddler sat on the ropes, meant to keep people contained in the middle of the room, fell backward smashed her head on the parquet floor, knocked down the poles and took out two other children in the process. (No item was damaged, besides the child.) Interestingly the parents of this toddler were too busy looking at everything to notice that their daughter was getting into a dangerous situation. Things like that happen fast and thankfully she was not hurt. But boy did I want to smack some sense into those parents; especially considering that they also had 2 boys, I'm certain they are aware of the speed of toddlers.

Since we had children, I being an obedient person listened to our guide and found myself being ushered outside. Then I realized it wasn't because of "families", no, no, no, no. Our guide was politely asking the boneheaded parents in our group to leave under the guise of "families". When we got outside on the north walkway the mother of the toddler looked at me and asked "Do you think we're being kicked out?" Yes. We were. I looked at her and said "It appears to be so." Believe me I had loads more to tell her, but kept it to myself, I thought it out of line at the time to express my true feelings. I think the look on my face made it clear to her of my displeasure with her parenting skills. She got it, thankfully, because she turned on her heel and left.

So I found myself outside with my girls with no real explanation, left to answer many questions. The girls are old enough to understand situations. They figured out something was wrong right away. Unfortunately they presumed it was due to their misbehaving. That was awkward. I had to explain it was not because of their behavior but of another child's. Personally I was upset too. I hate it when we as a family go to experience a historical landmark and are broken up. We have such limited time with Daddy on weekends that every moment is precious to us girls. My question is this: What is wrong with asking the people causing the problems to leave?

People dislike confrontation. I understand that quite well. But in a case like this, by grouping all the parents into the same category you miss an opportunity to communicate. Those parents needed to be singled out. They needed to know that their children were not fulfilling the expectation of staying in the walkways and not touching things. I think considering our group with its 8 kids in it the guide should had made it clear in the beginning the expectations. Simply by stating "We love having children visit the great home of Thomas Jefferson and understand fully how exciting a place like this can be. However we ask that parents carefully watch over their children and help remind them of the importance of not touching things within the home. If your children begin to be noticeably restless you may be asked to step outside for a moment to take turns touring the home." This topic is covered in the pamphlet, which no one reads, but is good to review. And by asking the specific families causing the problems to step outside would greatly enhance the experience for those people with children like mine. I'm carrying on about this is so that I feel better but also there is a point of parenting advice I have to pass along.

Dear parents with rowdy children:

If you have a child get out of your house, out of your neighborhood, out of your familiar surroundings and expose that child to the world. Children will never learn how to behave in public if you never take them places. Not every place is kid friendly, that is reality. They need to go to some of those places. That does not mean you leave your brains in the car. If you go to a place like Monticello you have to actually keep those children under control. That may even require you to pay attention to them, just a little bit. I know it is hard, rabid little beasts are difficult to manage, but they can learn. Do what we do TALK to your child. Explain to the child the rules and outline your expectations. Children are only capable of being a part of the world if you give them the guidance. When you let them set the rules then you are asking for trouble and will likely be singled out. Parenting is hard work. Ignoring your responsibility and allowing your children to run a muck is rude and disrespectful. If that is too much for you, well then, just go to Chuck-E-Cheese's and let us parents who take this job seriously keep the Monticellos to ourselves.

Best regards,
The lady whose well mannered girls were kicked out of Monticello because of your lack of judgment



The rest of our day went well and was so fun. We lunched at the Michie Tavern. Very good food and loved the outdoor seating. Afterward the girls tried on some period dresses and looked smashing. I took some pictures and were they cute? Yep. They were. We stopped at the general store where I picked up some stone ground flour which I can't wait to try out. Mmmm. Fresh flour. Before bidding Charlottesville goodbye we ventured out to the downtown mall. Very nice selection of small town stores and fine dining. By the end of the day we were tired. I'd like to visit again and possibly spend a little more time in town.

2 comments :

Mo said...

Amen! My kids are well behaved - party because they are who they are, partly because I'm VERY clear about what I expect and what will happen (immediately) if the rules are not obeyed. Because of this, my sister-in-law has accused me of abusing my children because she sees their obedience as being afraid of me. Let's just say I will never tour anything again with her family of hyenas (sorry for insulting hyenas).
I love to expose my kids to the world and think it's a shame that there are many families who have ruined it for the rest of us. Singling people out is the only way you can change anything. The guide should have been made aware of his/her misstep.

Yvonne said...

Mo you are right I should have said something to the guide. I'm sure she sees all sorts of goofy kids and may not be aware of how she made my kids and me feel. I am so glad to hear you are doing the same with your kids. I knew I liked you right away for a reason!