Monday, April 04, 2011

Oh, Baby!

I just heard about a most disturbing incident that occurred last week during a professional tennis match. Tennis, Graces! Isn't that supposed to be a gentleman's game?

At a match in Florida, pro David Ferrer hit a ball deliberately into the crowd toward a crying baby, who had allegedly distracted him and caused him to lose the point. Video here.

Let me state unequivocally that this is appalling behavior. Someone might have been seriously injured--this is a professional tennis player serving the ball, not me, with my anemic forehand, hurling a ball into a seated crowd (not that I would approve of that either, just to be clear).
Would Mr. Ferrer have executed an overhead lob to a passing airplane, a backfiring car, or a squawking bird that emitted an unexpected sound during a critical juncture of his game? Isn't it focused concentration part of, well, anything that we aspire to do well? If he wishes to play tennis in a silent, controlled environment, perhaps he should consider the Wii version.


And this is a pretty big but.

Why in the name of all that is Gracious did those parents bring a baby to a tennis match, a sport that is known for its quiet crowds and subdued fans? Was the baby a tennis fan? Knowing that babies are not yet capable of understanding that crying at a tennis match is not the done thing, shouldn't the grown-ups in the equation have left junior home?

Lest you think me anti-child, let me state for the record that I have two of my own. They accompany us when and where it is appropriate and stay behind with a responsible caregiver when it is not.

And let me also state for the record that there is no shame in the U-turn. If you bring the little ones along and things go south, then bail. Better to create a short-term disruption leaving a restaurant or movie than a sustained disturbance for the duration.

Time and place, Graces. Like formal dinners, PG-13 and R-rated movies, funerals, and performances that don't involve furry puppets, events that are geared to adults should be attended by adults.

Can you think of any event that is improved by the bawling of an infant? Exactly.

1 comment:

Postpanamamaxi said...

Friendly toleration is a sublime virtue that should be offered by both sides.

The situation described by you could have happened in Germany, too. It is a world-wide-problem. People often have difficulties with the needs of others. And parents often do not know if that what they like is good for the children, too.

Just remember the birthday party of tiny Suri, daughter of Tom Cruise. Does a child need a million dollar event to have a happy birthday celebration?

People have lost the good measure.
Carrying a child to a tennis match is just another symptom of this social disease.

Parents who carry their children to events that are definitely non-appropriate for them cannot complain if other people feel disturbed by a crying baby.

But I also notice that there are many childless people who are generally not willing to tolerate children and their spezial needs.

In Germany there is very often an anti-children attitude that makes my freeze.

Can you imagine that there are cafés where parents with children are not permitted? Sorry, but I consequently boycot such cafés and restaurants where I feel unwelcome.

When I have done my weekly food shopping for my family, I love to have a cappuccino in the Italian Café in our little town. My tiny ones (1 and 4 years) love to have their icecream as a reward for good behaviour.

And no one can forbid me and my sons to enjoy our weekly 30-minute-break at the Italian café. They try hard to behave good though they are not always successful. But even occasional misbehaviour is a good chance to learn something new: to apologize for things done wrong.
My sons are improving their sozial competence step by step.

My children are as well part of our society as any one else.

But of course I would not take my children to non-appropriate places and events.
Children have a right to be children, and grown-ups have a right to have some events where they are undisturbed by children. Sometimes it is simply not adequate for children.
Cinema. Theatre. Funerals. Golf or Tennis matches.

When I decided to have children, I also agreed to the fact that this means a certain loss of freedom.
I was willing to pay the price and to take the consequences.
And I am glad to realize that having children also means a gain of freedom, happiness and love.

Being a mother is indeed the best job in the world. I never expected a rose garden. Being realistic is not that bad.