It’s Not All Mary Poppins

No Sharp Objects, or I May Just Burst with Pride

This morning there was no canned cat food. There was lots of kibble, but no wet stuff. Which is why I spent the first two hours of my morning tripping over cats. Hundreds of them. Technically, there are only two, but for the first couple hours this morning I’d have sworn there were at least three or four… hundred… in the kitchen, each and every one of them desperate to be fed, each and every one desperately hungry. Especially the tortoiseshell one, whose belly almost – but not quite – brushes the ground as she winds herself around my feet in a desperate attempt to kill me get fed before she collapses from starvation.

Our Outing this morning is decided. We will go to the vet, to collect the cat food. Because these animals don’t eat the cheap stuff from the grocer’s, nor even the middling stuff from the pet store. Oh, no. THEY eat the premium stuff from the veterinarian.


Good thing they’re not my cats, and even better I’m not paying for this. (They belong to my neighbours. I’m cat-sitting for a bit. Of a year. For, oh, six more months now, while their owners finish meandering through southeast Asia – they were in Laos when last heard – before moving on to Africa, and finally Europe. Must be nice, huh?)

No, I’m not being paid. But nor do I have to pay, either. So we load up with 48 cans of premium food ($95.00).

It is observant Anna who asks, “Go a coffee shop, Mary?” Observant some of the time, generally when her stomach is a factor.

Because, lo, the coffee shop is RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from the vet’s. I’d forgotten that. But it is snack time, and we do need something to eat. We meander over. It is after we are arranged around the table with our food and drink that the hordes of middle-schoolers arrive. In waves. Each surge accompanied by a teacher.

The coffee shop, you see, is right across the street from a local JK – 8 school. The grade 7 and 8 children may, pending parental permission, leave the school ground at lunch and descend upon local commercial establishments. There are two coffee shops in spitting distance of the school, and various other stores of potential interest to 12- and 13-year-olds.

It seems that this year the school has decided to be proactive. Rather than wait till a student gets his silly self banned for shoplifting gumballs from the 7-11 and then reacting with an indignant and outraged assembly, banning the entire student body from the store for a month (which happened last year), the students are being taken around to these establishments so that a manager can come out and give them a Rules’n’Regs chat. It’s a good thought.

The young fellow at the Second Cup went sort of like this:

“Hi, my name is Fred and I’m the manager here. I just want you to know that you’re all welcome here at the Second Cup, but that we do have some ground rules.” He tells them a couple of things they mightn’t be expected to know: that they do indeed have to BUY something if they wish to sit in a chair for the lunch hour, and though it’s fine to come in and not buy something if you’re with a friend who is buying something, there can’t be SIX non-buyers for every buyer in the group. They’re 12 and 13. They mightn’t be aware of these nuances of commercial reality.

But they’re also told “There is to be no running or yelling. You need to talk softly enough so that other people don’t have to hear you if they don’t want to. Please remember not to throw things in the store. Please remember to pick up after yourselves. There is to be no fighting in the store.”

Obviously, the manager has seen these things before. He is not making up rules for the heckuvit. Are you finding it as sad as I am that kids of this age need to be told this? I’m not arguing that they do. I just think it’s sad.

When the fourth group comes through, it seems the manager has decided a lecture is boring and an object lesson is more effective.

“I’m Fred, the manager here, and I want to let you know that you’re all welcome in this Second Cup. There are some ground rules, however.

I want you to look at that table with the babies. See it?”

“Oh! Cuuuute!” The girls.
“Uh.” The boys.
The teacher grins at us.

“See how those babies are sitting in their chairs?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Are they running around?”


“Are they shouting?”


“Are they throwing things, or fighting, or swearing, or bugging the other people?”


“Okay, then. What I’m asking you guys is EASY. When you come into this Second Cup, I want you to behave just as well as those babies. Do you think you can manage that?”

The group chortles, confident of the superiority of their advanced years. “Yeah.”

“Good. So remember: no running, no yelling, no throwing, no bugging the other people. And then everyone will be happy!”

And off the hordes surge. The manager strolls over and tosses a couple of 2fer coupons on the table.

“Here. I think you guys have earned these.”

Timmy looks up with his sparkling grin. “Dang-oo!”

Lordy, but I’m proud of these kids.

And myself.


September 4, 2007 - Posted by | behavioural stuff, our adoring public, outings, socializing


  1. You should be proud!

    I agree it’s sad that it’s necessary to point out to kids 12 and 13 years old that swearing, running around and otherwise being disruptive in a public place is inappropriate and inconsiderate.

    On the lighter side though, “Dang-oo!”, how adorable is that?

    Comment by Sheri | September 4, 2007 | Reply

  2. Well done Mary and kids!

    I was an 8th grade teacher BK (before kids) so I wasn’t surprised at all that they need to be told not to be disruptive. I think it’s sad, too: it just didn’t surprise me.

    If they’d had training as good as you’re giving, there definitely wouldn’t be a problem letting them out in public. I could always tell the kids who’d been raised properly: if they got a little rowdy, a simple reminder would make them settle down right away.

    Comment by Alison | September 4, 2007 | Reply

  3. That’s just brilliant – and yes, you should be proud.

    Comment by bubandpie | September 4, 2007 | Reply

  4. Oh, that was smart of him. I like.
    And yeah, I’m WELL aware that they sadly need to be told these things because I say all these things and more about 762 times every day to the same 20 or so kids. You’d think at some point, they’d learn, maybe after being ejected a few times? Uh, no. Sad indeed.

    Comment by kittenpie | September 4, 2007 | Reply

  5. At all my schools, kids were technically not allowed to be anywhere in the shops after school in their uniforms. Never stopped us from going in, but you had to be careful what you were seen doing.

    OK, I have to ask: how do you stop them kids running around???

    Comment by Kat | September 4, 2007 | Reply

  6. Wow, wonderful!! 😀

    Comment by Karin | September 4, 2007 | Reply

  7. oh bless!

    It strikes me sometimes that kids of that age do have to be told the basic rules, no one tells them and they see other teenagers do it, sometimes I think as bad as they behave in my local town its because they dont know any better and no one has shown them.

    Comment by jenny uk | September 5, 2007 | Reply

  8. Proud, indeed! That’s awesome, what a nice surprise.

    And the cat food…YIKES!

    Comment by mamacita tina | September 5, 2007 | Reply

  9. That IS quite an outlay for cat food! (Or so it sounds to me–having never owned a cat!)
    You should be VERY proud of your charges! Sounds like a good day!

    Comment by LoryKC | September 5, 2007 | Reply

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