Do you ever notice that when kids are...being kids, and the parents are saying "stop it, you're embarrassing me", that it's not the kids that are embarrassing, but the parents?
I'll be the first to admit, I've pulled that line before. When I used to bring Josh to mommy and me music classes, when he was in the second or third year of it he stopped paying attention so much, wanted to walk around the room and look at the radiator, run around in a circle, anything but sit and participate in the music. It was frustrating, feeling like we were disrupting the kids and parents who actually wanted to pay attention. I took him to a few classes that session and when he didn't improve, I took him out and got a partial refund for the rest of the session. I later heard, when I ran into some of the parents again, that they completely understood and it wasn't that big a deal. It always seems like a big deal to the parent of the kid who's doing it, but most people understand.
But karate does not include parent involvement. We sit on the bleachers at the back of the room and watch the kids. We are not supposed to "coach from the sidelines". This one mother, she has a very active, distracted child. He's probably only 4 or 5 years old. Karate doesn't seem to suit him. He seems to have some kind of attachment issue, because he always wants to run back and hang out with his mother instead of being in class. It seems to me if your child has this kind of issue separating from his mother, you don't bring him to a class where the parents cannot participate at all. You start off slow, maybe at a swim class where the parents can get in the water too, but there is a gradual separation as the child gets more comfortable.
She was sitting on the front bleacher, next to me, growling commands at her son between her teeth during this class. "Sit down," she'd hiss. "Pay attention or we're not going to the movies." He was getting increasingly unhappy. I honestly wanted to move, but couldn't see a spot I could easily get to without climbing over bleachers and being really obvious.
Now, you do not have to stay. She could have sat in her car or stood outside so she wouldn't distract him. Continuing to respond to him wasn't helping. Near the end of class he told the teacher he wanted to leave the mats. The teacher reminded him that once he leaves he can't come back on for the rest of the class (except to go to the bathroom of course, they can leave and come back for that) He chose to leave the mats and his mother of course was not pleased. "We're not coming back. You're not going to embarrass me again." Like this is all about her.
Like I said, I have pulled that line, about being embarrassed in front of other people. But it's usually when we're home, or in the car, and my son has calmed down. When he's in the middle of being unhappy, do you think he cares if he's embarrassing me? Plus, I don't get embarrassed by normal behavior. If he pulls a tantrum in public, then I talk about being embarrassed about it. I pull him aside at home and talk about appropriate behavior. But if he's just doing normal stuff, or if he'd rather hang out with me than sit in an activity he doesn't like...I'm not embarrassed. Why should I be?
The kid was bouncing around next to me and they finally left. I hope they don't come back and that she finds an activity that's more suited for his personality. I was so embarrassed for the kid, but bless him, he didn't seem crushed at all by his mother's attitude.
It's tough because I can see both sides of the situation. It's hard, feeling like your kid is the only kid who's not behaving, but if she had looked around, she would have seen other kids doing the same thing. Facing the wrong way, moving around, looking around, talking...for heaven's sake, they're all under 7 years old. Of course they're not sitting perfectly like adults. Situations like that just make me feel bad, perhaps because I see a little bit of myself in that mom's frustration, her attitude, and seeing it from outside the situation makes me realize how hard it must be for the kid, too. She should have said to him before they came, now if you want to go to the movies, I need you to stay for the whole class and behave. I wonder if she did try to prep the kid. It really helps, with my son.
Anyway, I just wanted to get that out of my system. If they come back I just have to make sure I don't sit near her.