Saturday, December 20, 2008

Rude Children

I took my boys to the movies this weekend. The theater was fairly empty with people scattered lightly through the back half of the rows. It was a children's movie, so the viewers were mainly children and a few parents.

We were in the the second row from the back on the left side, and behind me was a local (Emirati) lady and her children. There were more people on the other side of the theater, including several small children, who made a fair amount of noise throughout - but I won't complain about them, because that is to be expected. BUT, seated right in front of me, there were four Emirati boys around my son, Salman's age (between - I would guess - 9-12 years old.) They came in late and proceeded to be deliberately disruptive, shouting and clapping their hands and making more noise than all the toddlers in the theatre. Eventually, I kicked the chair of the one seated in front of me and told him "Be Quiet!" He turned around and glared at me. "What?" he asked, with a smirk on his face. "SHUT UP!" I said. "Why? We are having fun." he replied. "You are disturbing other people, we can't hear." "So?" he retorted. "So, if you don't stop I am going to call the theatre attendants to have you removed." To this he shrugged and smiled, "Go ahead" he said and turned around and started to make noise again. "YOU are a bunch of spoiled brats" I told him. Just then, I heard the Emirati woman behind me (whose kids were very well-behaved) speaking on the phone. She called the desk outside and asked them to send security to remove some trouble makers. "Thank you." I told her.

A few minutes later, two Filipino theatre attendants entered and rather unconvincingly told the boys that they would remove them. The boys laughed in their faces and continued to disrupt off and on throughout the duration of the movie, peeking at me defiantly through the cracks in their seats.

When the movie ended, the boys stood up and smirked at me as if to say "see - we can do whatever we want and you can't do anything about it." I ignored them and stood up. For some reason, when I stood, they looked a little scared and scurried off. I am not sure why, perhaps I am taller than they expected? I have noticed that most of the local ladies here are a quite short and even with very high heels, do not equal my height in flats (and believe me, I am not THAT tall).

We followed them out of the theatre; I fully intended to spot which adult they were with so I could go tell him/her how they had behaved. As they passed the Indian guy who collects tickets at the entrance they jeered at him and gave him the finger - laughing and looking at each for approval. Just then I got a phone call, and I was digging in my way-too-big, junk laden purse (I am seriously turning into my mother), they disappeared. By the time I had completed my call, they were nowhere to be seen, but Salman told me that an older girl, probably the sister of one of them, had met them and that he had seen the lady who had been sitting behind us say something to her that clearly upset the boys because they were waving their hands in protest.

I have seen behavior like this from local children before (but in Dubai, not here) - bullying non-local kids and staff, talking rudely to anyone they think is beneath them (which seems to be anyone who is not local - especially poor people), and abusing the nannies who are hired to look after them, but who clearly have no authority or respect. I will never forget being in a mall in Dubai and watching a tiny thin haggard and unsmiling Indonesian servant trailing behind a local family, carrying several shopping bags and pushing a pram with youngest of their several children. The oldest boy, who was taller than she was and quite hefty, was talking to her angrily and kept raising his hand in the air in a threatening gesture as if he were about to slap her. The way she cringed silently as his mother ignored the whole thing made my blood boil and made me wonder, "What sort of parent doesn't care how their children behave?" Do their parents treat their servants the same way? I would be mortified and horrified, if my sons behaved that way. I can only assume that the parents of such children are like the man I saw in a mall parking lot, with his big new white Mercedes with three digit license plate number, who was screaming and threatening the Indian parking attendants with deportation (because they had told him he could not park in a no parking zone in front of the entrance.)


mistika said...

I just came across your blog and really like it. About the children I know I have 2 girls and I believe from a small age they have to be teach manners.

Susie of Arabia said...

Wow - this is my first visit to your blog and this post was very good! I'm a "Follower" now!
I totally agree with you about the attitudes and treatment towards foriegn workers - it's despicable. Islam doesn't teach this - why do the parents allow their children to get away with behaving like this? It's a very disappointing thing to see here in the Middle East.

Anonymous said...

I want to believe those children were rude not because they are Emirati but because they are teenagers.
Anyhow it was very ugly behavior and there's no excuse for them and their parents.

desertmonsoon said...

Of course they are not bratty because they are Emirati - but the brand of brattiness that you find here is very unpleasant as it results from badly raised children (as all spoiled brats are) with a sense of entitlement that is unique to this place.

Not all Emirati children are bratty - as I pointed out, the woman behind me was Emirati, had well behaved children, whom she was watching herself, and she seemed bothered by the behavior of those other children. But there is a certain kind of behaviour that seems a little too common here.