When I was 18 I shared a beach house with a bunch of wonderful people in Lordship Connecticut.  There was one other woman living there by the name of Beth.

Beth eventually married Mickey and they had three kids her youngest being a girl.  She taught Amy who was 3, anytime she saw someone litter to say ouch on behalf of the earth. Witnessing this, if you were lucky enough, broke your heart in two.  This wee creature would stun people into picking up what they dropped.

Beth died of breast cancer fifteen years ago but her sweet, gentle parenting still resonates, and I’m sure not just with me.

I live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and the conspicuous consumption, especially where children are concerned, is off the charts.  Yesterday I met a 3 year-old with his own iPhone so he could call his grandparents in Palm Beach.  I don’t know, it made me a little sad not to mention envious since he was also wearing Gucci loafers the size of Twinkies.

Kids aren’t really kids anymore.  They’re just short adults that just have to answer to taller ones.  I have nothing against smart Upper East Side kids fortunate enough to attend the best schools learning things that make my head spin.  I only wish they could still be kids a little while longer.

The biggest parental responsibility that seems on its way out is good old-fashioned common courtesy.

I was recently having breakfast at Le Pain Quotidian on West 72nd Street.  I like that particular one because it’s big and airy and the service is faster.  I was sitting against the wall awaiting my oatmeal with apricots facing two, I’d guess, 7 year-old boys and their state-of-the-art silver skate boards sprawled in the aisle.  Their parents, who I realized were French, were oblivious to the havoc this inappropriate seating was causing.  The waitresses, coming from the kitchen, had to step over them with their eggs and whatnot to get to their tables.

Why didn’t they say anything?

Because it’s not that kind of place.  It’s child friendly without boundaries so all bets are off  behavioral wise.  When I saw an elderly woman almost take a spill because she couldn’t get by, that was it for me.

Yes, you guessed it.  Susannah, model citizen, spun into action.

Now I know enough when you’re about to criticize anyone, especially parents who become like grizzly bears in regard to their mirrored images, tact is required, even if a butter knife is more preferable.

“Excuse me,” I said with an itchy smile, “I’m concerned your sons are going to be trampled if they remain where they are.”

The mother looked at me as if to say, sons?  Oh yes, those two belong to us.  The father, to his credit, quickly made them get up and sit at the table despite the fifteen, no Papas, that came out of their feral little mouths.

“Merci merci,” the mother said to me as I went back to my banquette mumbling “fuck you, fuck you,” beneath my breath.

The two boys, who by the way were utterly beautiful with their long, wavy hair and chiseled French faces letting you glimpse how gorgeous they will soon grow up to be, stared at me as if I stole their last franc.

Just then a waitress caught her heel on the edge of one of the skate boards almost tumbling so Papa finally got up to move them to the side. I mean, it actually took a near accident for this to happen.

Parents, they should be required to take a test.  You can’t man anything even remotely dangerous without a license so should raising kids be any different?

Food for thought.

I found myself leaving the same time as the unconscious French four.  When we all got outside I watched as one of the kids threw a gum wrapper on the ground as they walked toward Strawberry Fields.

No, I didn’t pick it up but I did say ouch on behalf of the Earth.

God bless you Beth, where ever you are.


About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Amazon.com. Thanks.
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27 Responses to Ouch

  1. jimmie chew says:

    I want to send this to the NY Times!!!


  2. Joe Spier says:

    Wow, loved this piece today. I too hate it when people litter – it’s so tacky!



  3. Ed Crescimanni says:

    I love the concept of a Parental Operators License. Can’t imagine what the road test would be like.


  4. intruder says:

    Definitely believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification appeared to be on the internet the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while people think about worries that they just don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks


  5. Reblogged this on athingirldotcom and commented:

    There are many things that irk me. People putting their feet up on furniture, smokers and those yakking on their phone in public. Caregivers Tweeting rather than giving care along with dog walkers who sit instead of walk. Our prevailing tactless, Teflon coated medical community who’d prefer golf than healing you. Abandoned animals, wives who ignore their husbands and the big Kahuna of them all, littering.

    It just drives me crazy. You’ll often see me early in the morning picking up cans and potato chip bags, candy wrappers and various parts of the newspaper. I just can’t help myself. I used to cause scenes whenever I saw someone litter, but now let them see me pick it up as a lesson hoping it will embarrass them enough to think the next time. And I learned this gentle tactic from a woman I knew named Beth Sutherland Nelson.

    I wrote this way back in 2011 to remember her.

    It’s one of my favorite essays, not because I wrote it, but because of her.


  6. Your friend sounds like a special one. I was very frustrated yesterday by some families making noise where I live until 11 at night, ignoring signs saying “No ball games after 9pm”. Ouch is right. I challenge behaviour like this, but don’t you find it wearing?


    • I do, and it’s very prevalent where I live. Kids rules as a sign of brilliance, the word precocious coming to mind. Between inappropriate cell phone use and children without boundaries, staying home is preferable.

      Love your monkey picture.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. micklively says:

    Children grow up in spite of their parents.
    Litter is a curse: I like “ouch”; might try that myself.


  8. LOVE this and HATE trash as well! Ouch is an understatement these days as I see this poor planet being abused on a daily basis. Just yesterday I saw a girl throw a water bottle into the street and go back into her house. Who does that!!???


  9. Elle Knowles says:

    Yep. You are right Susannah. Parents are very protective of their young and also oblivious. Points to ponder – I can say any thing I want to about my kids, but you can’t. My kids do nothing wrong. That being said – don’t say anything negative about someone else’s child because yours may do the same thing or worse!
    Parenting should come with a license as you said. And littering should land you in jail no mater how short you are!
    Good for you standing your ground! ~Elle


  10. I’m not fond of parents today even though my generation raised them. They are overprotected and over structured. Yes, they are smart and athletic — far more than I was but at a cost. What I find annoying is that parents think their kids are ALWAYS right. They don’t want anyone to scold them but they correct them. If the kids would have spent a week with my mother, she would have got them in shape. They wouldn’t be inconsiderate or litter!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So much could be learned by parents from this post. Oh if only they were sponge-like the way their children are.


  12. I don’t usually say anything, but since my stroke, I am much more likely to. I am not certain that part is a disability. To speak your mind, regardless of what is thought, is often a wonderful feeling. Perhaps, not at the time, but after…


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