Commuting around Kids

For various reasons, I’ve been having a tough time sleeping lately. During the work week I feel I’m at a constant deficit and hence make up the time snoozing on the train. One day last week I was settling in for my nap when a mom with two young children boarded. I unabashedly snatched my trailpass, bag and made haste to the next car. Sure enough, within two minutes of sitting down the high-pitched child ruckus began. Fortunately, I could barely hear it safely ensconced in my new nap spot.

I understand the rails are public and anyone is allowed to ride them. I’m not going to complain about parents bringing children on the train. Sometimes they are charming and fun. More often they are cranky, screaming, arguing and crying. I’ve seen kids yank on the hair of passengers in front of them, grab tickets and passes and not once did their parents reprimand them.

The absolute worst, though, are those who feel they and their children are exempt from the rules. They let their kids stand on the seats, climb over them and run in the aisle. The conductor inevitably comes by to ask them to control their kids, if only for safety’s sake. They make excuses and have them sit until the conductor goes into the next car. As soon as the coast is clear, so to speak, it’s back to dangerous and annoying business as usual.

A few weeks ago a mom and her small daughter were at the front of the car during my morning commute. This woman went beyond anything I’ve seen. Before the train even left the station, she was arguing with the conductor that her daughter “can’t” sit down. Said daughter was jumping on the seats screeching. Eventually, the conductor had to leave to make rounds, at which point the kid took off running down the aisle while the train was in motion, and the mother followed.

One might expect a reprimand at this point? Of course not, the mom caught her daughter and proceeded to walk her up and down the aisle, even while others were boarding and finding seats, until the conductor finally stepped in. As before, as soon as he left they started again. After three rounds of admonition, she finally decided to listen. They returned to their seat where the standing and jumping continued.

When I boarded that morning I noticed about half a dozen passengers leaving the car and wondered why. I myself didn’t see or hear the small child until I’d already settled in. At that point, I decided to stay and see just how bad this would get. I found that mother’s behavior appalling. Not only is she teaching her daughter rudeness and exemption from the rules, she had absolutely no regard for anyone’s safety.

After a year and half commuting via regional rail I have no qualms about very obviously jumping ship to a different car, right in front of the boarding parents and children. In rare cases, they prove me wrong and show me I didn’t need to move. In most cases, however, I’m much better off further away.

2 Comments so far

  1. Hollie (unregistered) on December 23rd, 2007 @ 11:33 am

    Ms. Dubin:

    Did the child in question appear to be autistic? If so, mercy and understanding is required. Autism is a difficult disorder, and even the most skilled parents have trouble communicating with severely autistic children. Sometimes the parents of handicapped children must take public transportation. Children with autism look like normal children, but some have severe developmental and neurological problems. Sometimes, they screech and run away. If the child was typically developing, I agree with you.
    Thanks,
    Hollie


  2. jen dubin (unregistered) on December 23rd, 2007 @ 2:49 pm

    i lack the professional training to identify an autistic child. it was a little girl, and from what i understand autism is far less common in females. i would think if the child was developmentally disabled in some way, the mother would have explained to the conductor the first time.



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