We are standing in line at the grocery store. The little family in front of us is a mom, a dad, a girl about Andy's age, maybe between my two. She stands, perfectly silent, between mom and dad, her hands neatly folded in front of her, looking over the groceries her parents are buying. Her head moves to follow the exchanges between her parents and the cashier. She smiles at a joke. She beams knowing something is being bought for her. She looks happy at a compliment from the cashier.
I have one swinging from the bars that mark the line as handicapped-accessible and divide it from the next register. The other is yelling at me to look at a variety of items at the far end of the line. I prompt them to stay close to me. They are now playing some game in the aisle, one that involves "skating" and racing. I prompt them to return to me. Joey is making a very loud sound, a musical intonation from his new Buzz Lightyear game. Andy is squealing that Joey is hurting his ears.
The mom and dad glance back at us. The eyes of the girl follow their faces. They are giving me The Look. I am busy hugging Andy. I see no real reason to do anything about Joey singing, except to remind him to do it in an inside voice, and then to clarify that an "inside voice" is quieter. He reduces the volume, but picks up the quantity. Andy starts asking for things, and getting upset when I tell him he can't have a balloon, a candy bar, a soda, a toy. He never is allowed these things in the check-out line, but he has the tenacity of a 5-year-old in the throes of marketing genius.
No, the check-out isn't going particularly slowly in front of me, thanks. This is the speed this is all happening- a few minutes, long enough to check less than 20 items through, pay for those items, a couple extra pleasantries with the cashier, and the family is gone.
I'm not that worried about what the parents think of my children. I'm a little worried about what they just taught their daughter about them.