Jaime Bairaktaris is a compassionate, caring and cool “06880” reader. He works as a volunteer EMS crew chief, environmental program teacher, public school para-educator, and ice cream scooper.
Jaime is also very observant. Last weekend, he saw something disturbing. He wants to share it with all “06880” readers. I’m honored to pass his message along.
This is for all the parents of fidgety, different, and “normal” kids.
On Saturday morning I began to eavesdrop on the booth behind me at Rye Ridge Deli. Sitting in back of me was a kid (I assumed he’s a middle schooler). Across the table from him was a man (I assumed it was his father). My booth shook slightly as the kid moved around.
“Sit still!” the man said. Each word bounced as he chuckled.
The boy stopped moving. The booth became still.
“Some kids, they can’t sit still. They can’t control themselves,” the man continued.
I could not help but listen.
“One kid gets angry and gets a whole teacher to themself,” the man said. “Imagine there’s 25 kids in a class with one teacher. That’s ‘normal.’ Now imagine every kid gets their own teacher because they can’t control themself.”
I grew angry. I was listening to a child learn about how to look at other kids as abnormal, in a world where no one is “normal.”
“Imagine you want to get a set of textbooks for the whole class, but instead one kid gets their own teacher,” he said curtly.
“Now it’s more expensive for everyone else.”
This child was being taught to look at other kids as “expenses.”
The man plunged on. “We try to make these kids as ‘normal’ as possible now. We used to just keep them home if we knew it wouldn’t work out.”
My coffee grew cold. I could not imagine the harm he had done. He had just taught a child a mindset that many people have fought over 7 decades to change.
I listened as he chewed his words for a second, then spilled out: “But I’m not saying what’s wrong or right. These are big decisions.”
Man at the deli: These are not decisions. These are children.
My heart hurt for the child who had to listen to this.
My heart hurt for the kids who may now be looked at as expenses — and for the teachers who were equated to text books.
My heart hurt that I chose to eavesdrop and judge this man’s parenting, but did not stand up and stop it.
Parents: Please talk to your kids — at the deli, at home, in the car, before bed — and make sure they know to love all of their friends the same.
Kids: Please never think that you are an expense or a waste. You are the best asset our town will ever be prized with. Please keep fidgeting.
A fidgety, abnormal, 21-year-old
Most folks would not even have noticed the destruction you picked up on….not intervening, though, probably was better for the kid who might well have seen you as “jumping on” his dad, rather than being the supportive person in the deal.
This is the biggest COS I’ve ever read since It Takes A Village. Think about it. The father was patiently trying to explain to his son why he should behave. You are reading far, far too much into this. Stick to the ice cream scooping and mind your own business.
What a patronizing response to someone who is one of the hardest working young adults I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. He is educated on child development, works directly hundreds of kids at both a Westport educational program and a school district. Jaime indeed has actual expertise, and a sense of humor and perspective, about how to help guide a child into being a productive and contributing human being and member of society. His story is geared towards sharing that knowledge, about normal and appropriate behavior from children, and how to correct any missteps gently and appropriately. Demeaning and denigrating someone in a nasty “MYOB” response is an ugly look.
Yeah, I get it. I went a little far. Sorry. I miss the days when a boy and his dad could be together without somebody (I haven’t used any adjectives) peeking over the booth, taking notes and then scurrying off to their laptop and writing about it as if the guy was a Cardinal in Boston. As a fatherless son whose found his redemption from looking after his own son I wish father’s could just be left alone to be fathers. Not likely to happen, I guess.
Why such a rude and hostile comment? Jaime sure doesn’t need anyone to speak up for him, but his is an extraordinary young man. That was uncalled for.
What a nasty comment….. Opinion is what it is…. you’re lucky Mamma Bear doesn’t get into it…. My son Jaime does not need anyone to speak on his behalf. I thank you all, who did. Jaime is and has always been a kind hearted, selflessness sole. Always out to help in any way possible ❤️ He does this because it is in his blood.
Wow, Eric.To publicly post what an AH you are, bravo! The parent wasn’t patiently doing anything. He was making his child sit still to be an unwitting audience to his perverse logic. I can’t wait for you to have an emergency at your house.
Pucker up and kiss it 💋
David – there’s no offense in Eric’s comment. If anything, he proved a point that I alone could not do through my own writing. I appreciate everybody’s opinion – which is why this piece is accurately labeled as “Opinion”.
I fail to see the impact this private 1/1 between father/son had beyond the two people involved. At worst, the father tried to employ an analogy that missed the mark. What I do find disturbing is heralding a person as a saint for basically eavesdropping and then extrapolating the whole anecdote into a hate crime. Sure, Dave, you’re far from the 1st to call me an AH. And Jamie, I find you an individual of great, albeit misplaced sensitivity.
As a lifelong “fidgiter” I can emphasize with the child. Sometimes you just can’t help it. And no amount of reprimanding will make it stop.
Sorry — empathize.
I am on #TeamBairaktaris on this one. Children benefit from healthy boundaries as well as compassion for others. Our parenting and teaching choices create the future. I wonder what kind of caregiver that father would like to have when he’s got special needs as he ages? Better to cultivate kindness, maturity, and consideration in the next generation now, because they are the ones who will be caring for us in our frailty.
My Grandfather nicknamed me “fidget” when I was a little… he thought it was endearing except in 2 places …restaurants and Church. These were two distinct places that remember learning very quickly😬 that those sacred institutions were fidget free zones!
“Kids: Please never think that you are an expense or a waste. You are the best asset our town will ever be prized with.”
What a beautiful and incredibly important reminder.
Thank you Jaime.
This is so beautiful! Thank you so much!
Thank you Jaime for your great insight and for all of the good you do in our town and in this world!
Sounds like the father was just trying to ‘check’ his child’s sense of privilege before someone else does &/or has to. It’s good kids in WSPT have all good influences, some indulging & some checking that indulgence. As I’ve gotten older. but really fr as early as teen years I’ve had to cover for friends who’s sense of privilege without real consideration for how that impacts ’neighibors’, ‘staff’ (their own and others), I was always told not to let my privileges impede others, & can see how a mix of both indulge & check it is good for everyone.
Thank you, Jaime, for the grace and guidance you show the families you work with. Some days are calm and peaceful, others are challenging and confusing. We appreciate that you roll with the punches, give us guidance, don’t judge us as parents too harshly, and have a sense of humor and kindness, even on the more frustrating days. 😀
I am empathizing with the father in question. Being the object of misdirected sanctimony needs at least one person to call it out for what it is. What was rude was eavesdropping on a private conversation. That’s where this whole CS joyride got started.
I tell you what!!! Maybe Jamie could give me a private intro to the child abuser so we can take this “Orwellian adventure” offline (where it belonged in the 1st place)
“Bad or good children” — some children cannot control their behavior. Those with Tourette’s Syndrome, for example. If you don’t know what that is, Google it.
Tourette’s Syndrome children are not “special needs.” They can be as intelligent and physically adept, if not more so, than other kids. TS is a neurological disorder causing physical and verbal tics, some of which may be “fidgeting.” Reprimanding or punishing them cannot change their behavior, no matter how hard they try.
The point I was making is that TS kids do not have control over their symptoms and are not deliberately disruptive. Do you know anyone with TS? I do.