Saturday, October 15, 2011

Other People's Children

For the most part, I enjoy children. Kids can be adorable and actually quite intuitive and interesting little creatures. In fact, the child in question isn't my real issue. My real issue is the lack of parenting that seems to plague our society. Actually, that is a more specific example. What bothers me is the lack of awareness for others and the inability of people to take responsibility for things that they have decided to be responsible for.
Today L, one of Tenie's roommates and a new made friend, and I went out to the mall. She was in serious need of a girls' day and since Mr. K was not feeling well, I went with her. We had a great time perusing the shops, trying on clothes and just general enjoyment of each others' company.
The first observation that I made though was something that I have noticed since moving to Edinburgh. I do not think that this is exclusive to Edinburgh, I am sure it happens all around the world, but it was here that this problem became very obvious to me. Many parents, not all but a very large number,  pushing strollers (or prams as they are called here) think they own the entire sidewalk/hallway/bus/elevator or whatever space they may be in. The sidewalks in Edinburgh are actually wide in many areas and people with children in prams manage to take them completely over. It doesn't matter who else is around, other pedestrians, wheelchair users blind people using white canes or guide dogs, the prams take priority. If you say "excuse me" they often won't move and act put out. It's so bad that I've even had other people ask pram pushers to "please move out of the way" so that Glacier and I can get through. I don't have a problem with prams or parents who use them. Technically speaking they are quite effective and serve a very important function for parents, but a little awareness of other people around you is necessary when using such a large object. Again, I repeat, this is not true of all parents, but it happens enough that I feel it necessary to comment on it.
The next thing I noticed I believe I've commented on before: a lot of parents do not pay attention to what their children are doing when out in public. First of all, it's not safe and second of all it's inconsiderate. Today for example, L and I were browsing items in the Gap. I put Glacier between myself and the clothing wrack to ensure he was not blocking the aisle. The spaces in those stores are quite small and it would be very inconsiderate of me if I were to allow my dog to sprawl out, blocking anyone else's passage. At one point, Glacier perked up and moved his head forward a bit. I told him to "leave it" and he did, but L explained that a little girl was trying to feed Glacier her candy. Her mom and another adult figure stood mere feet away, but did not stop or even say anything to the child. I let it go since she was barely old enough to speak. About ten minutes later, Glacier made a similar movement and I again said "leave it." He obeyed and then I heard L say,
"He will take that honey." She then explained that the child was trying to give Glacier her stuffed animal.
If candy wasn't bad for dogs and if Glacier wasn't working, this could have been quite cute. I'm not sure if I would have minded so much if there had been only one offering and then a parent intervention, but the woman didn't even acknowledge that her child had wandered off and that she was trying to offer things to a working dog. Again, it's the lack of parenting that bothered me.
So often people will walk by with kids and they will explain the dog to them or the kids will ask. So many times people engage their children and it's so nice to see, but just as often, parents are too caught up in their own goings on to notice. Not that working dogs are aggressive, but what if Glacier had snatched the toy from the little girl or the candy? He could have hurt her and I would have been responsible even though her Mom was too busy to pay attention.
I also feel frustrated by the amounts of people without disabilities or prams taking the only elevator available in the mall. Usually I take the escalator with Glacier because the dogs at LDB are trained to use them, but the dogs in the UK are not and an alternative route must be sought out. Today we opted to take the elevator because of its location and the fact that I do try to limit how many times Glacier has to ride the escalator: dogs can potentially pinch their paws in escalators and thus, I attempt to control his escalator riding. The elevator doors opened three times and we still could not get on because people without disabilities or prams were squished in. What if I were a wheelchair user and had no alternate option? We waited for the doors to open a fourth time and then crammed on with a pram and two people who had working legs and no assistive mobility equipment with them.
It's kind of like my pet peeve of able-bodied people using the accessible bathroom stall when every other stall is free. Wheelchair users only have one option when going into the bathroom. Sure, if the bathroom is full, use the stall available, but if everything else is empty, what possesses someone to go into a stall designed to house a wheelchair or a large guide dog?
When I worked with Jetta, she fit in small stalls and so I would often squish the two of us in to leave the accessible stall open. Glacier is much bigger and I usually use the accessible stall because if I leave him outside of the door and run his leash underneath, people will pet him, talk to him and God knows what else. Also, often the walkways outside of the stalls are quite narrow and I would be taking up walking room if I left him out there. I've also been asked to move out of a spot on the bus reserved for people with disabilities so that a person with a pram can sit there. Prams fold up and children can ride on laps. Guide dogs do not fold up and cannot ride on laps. I'm not saying that people with disabilities should not be considerate because self awareness and ultimately consideration for others is a two way street, but please I'm just asking that able-bodied people afford others (not just disabled people) the same considerations they expect.
I know this sounds harsh and a little out of character for me, and if I offend anyone I do apologise, but there is truth to what I am about to say: people choose to have children and push them in prams, I did not choose to be blind. Yes, I choose a guide dog over a white cane which can fold up and be put on a lap. So, that is why I try to be considerate of Glacier being in other people's space or in their way. I do not let Glacier lick children's ice cream cones as we pass, which can be equalled to that of what the little girl did by trying to feed him candy. All I am trying to say in a very long and round about way, is that we should have consideration for others and if we make decisions to be responsible for other beings, whether they are children/dogs/vehicles Etc, then we must be aware of what they are doing and be accountable.


browndogcbr said...

Hi Y'all,

Well spoken. Hubby and I often speak of how people today are unwilling to take responsibility.

BrownDog's Human

Jen said...

Jes your not being harsh at all, your absolutely right. Like you, I spend so much time considering where I bring OJ and if he will be in the way if I am doing something. More often than not, I leave him at home when I'm shopping because it is just so difficult. I am lucky because my sister will come with me so I don't really need him, but other people don't have that option.
I admire the parents who take time to explain what guide dogs do to their children, but those who don't really frustrate me. How are children supposed to learn and act appropriately around a guide dog next time? and yeah, if our dog touched a child we'd be in serious trouble!

L^2 said...

I don't think you're being harsh at all, because I totally agree with you! So many people nowadays are incredibly inconsiderate of others, and likewise so many parents are unaware of what their children are doing. It can be very frustrating to deal with. And like you, I am always very careful about making sure Jack is not in other people's way. It would be nice if others were that considerate of us too.

Nicky said...

No, do not appolagise, you are not saying anything that is not reasonable. Many times I have felt like killing parents for just not caring that their kids were all over Ralph. I actually heard someone saying to a child one time that it was ok to touch him as he is a Guide Dog and he won't touch you.

Here in Ireland the buses have fold down seats in part of the disabled space where you can sit down and the dog should be able to fit underneath. Well, Ralph is able to anyway and he is fairly big. These spaces while designed to take wheelchairs are not specifically kept for them and so you would have a right to sit there and I have often shared that space with someone in a chair. People with prams are encouraged to fold them up where possible and they are not given priority on these types of buses. I should add that these vehicles are mostly say in city areas and I have rarely been on one in rural areas. We tend to have more coaches in these areas. If you ever think of bringing Mr. K for a visit over here do let me know and I would be more than happy to take you round parts of Dublin.

Jess and Glacier said...

Nicky: That is exactly where we were sitting when the bus driver asked us to move for the pram. I had only been here for a short while and didn't know I could refuse. That will be the last time I move for a pram since Glacier is a moose of a dog and trying to fit him anywhere else is a pain.
We may have to take you up on that offer. We've talked about visiting Ireland now that we are so close. :)