30 July, 2007

In the masters chambers they're gathered for the feast

Welcome to the Hotel California.

We have had guests almost nonstop for the last two weeks. Have, in fact, so overbooked ourselves, that Saturday morning saw M dropping one tenant off at the airport and picking up the next set just 1 1/2 hours later.

And although I've appreciated each of these visits it's time to stop the madness. I've about had it.

Luckily we get the house back to ourselves at 1:30 this afternoon. And I am soooo looking forward to the down-time.

Had something very unsettling happen yesterday afternoon. We went to Herrenberg to show our friends the sights and sit out on the main square for an ice cream. The kids were running around playing tag and S accidentally bumped into a boy about his age who was also not looking where he was going. Apparently this boy dropped his ice cream, but then picked it up off of the ground and started eating it again.

I didn't see the whole thing, but our friend did, and mentioned it casually after the fact. She said that nothing really had happened and didn't think it was a big deal.

But then we started noticing that three kids started following S around like a bunch of sharks. S had a clean conscience and was completely clueless as to what was happening. Not knowing exactly what was going on, but feeling a bit uncomfortable by their aggressive behavior we had S and B come over and play near us.

But these kids started circling around and getting steadily closer. And these were no adolescent thugs-- they were maybe 7 - 10 years old!? They were well dressed and obviously in the company of their parents and grandparents.

It came time to leave and in hindsight I realize we walked past a table what must have been the parents, because they were staring openly at us. The kids followed us and kept getting closer and closer to S in a very threatening way. So finally I turned around, blocked their way and stood very tall over them. I asked "Is there a problem?"

"Yes, your son bumped into my brother and he dropped his ice cream."

M stepped in and said "Well, he said you bumped into him. Sounds like neither of you was being very careful." and I explained that it was obviously an accident. I even patted the little shit on the head for some reason.

Then he looked up and said "Well, how are we going to settle this?"

I was shocked. "Wie bitte?!"

"What are you going to do to settle this?"

M raised his eyebrows: "We're not. Goodbye" and he took S's hand and we left.


The whole situation left me with a very bad feeling. If I had seen the incident and S had, indeed, caused the problem I would have bought the other kid another ice cream. But it was obviously an accident and was long over. The parents were there and it sounded like there was no problem to solve.

It really scares me that innocent, naive S had no clue that he was in any danger-- he's so non-aggressive himself that he didn't even notice these kids closing in on him. And it worries me that they were so bold that they would do this right in front of us!

And why on earth would their parents condone this sort of behavior? They followed us for a good 400 meters. It really seemed like the parents sent them after us, and if not, they at least permitted them to actually leave the square and follow along. ??? If they had a problem with us why wouldn't they say something directly? (And all this for a €1.50 ice cream!?)

Chalk this up to yet another culture clash this week, because I am convinced that this would NOT have happened in the States. Unless we had been in NYC, and then at least I would have been packing... ;-)


Goofball said...

yikes sounds creepy

Lisa said...

I'm sorry to say I see that kind of behavior from children all the time. And yes, the parents seem to condone it. I was at a flea market not so long ago when a young man, 12-13 or so, deliberately elbowed a woman my age in the stomach for being in his way when he tried to get past, then gave her a dirty look. His mother was following a few steps behind and as the other adult stood clutching her stomach with a shocked face all the mother said was "Now now, (child's name)...". Nothing else.

I know I'm dating myself horribly saying this but when I was a child you didn't treat adults like that. It wouldn't have even entered your mind. I heard it explained nicely not so long ago - wish I could remember who said it! - that the children of the generation of newly turned 30's (Gen X? Next?) have made it a point to teach their children they're worthy of respect because they (the parents) didn't receive respect as children. Their children have taken this treatment as an entitlement and proof they're 'special', and they expect it from everyone around them. The best of intentions gone bad it seems.