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The extra traffic in the lobby of parents and nannies rushing to and fro means another school year is upon us, and with it, lots of kids going in and out of the building.
Doormen get to see and, shall we say, “experience” the best and the worst of the tiny tots.
The best have been taught to be polite, offering a “Thank you, Good morning” or “Good night,” generally accompanied by a gap-tooth smile. They‘re well behaved as they wait in the lobby with a doorman, while mommy or daddy (who may have actually asked if I mind watching their kid) run back upstairs to their apartment for the something they forgot.
These are the youngsters who come down periodically (escorted by a parent) with an offering of cake or cookies. They try to help me shovel snow or sweep, a hilarious experience given that the broom is usually far bigger than they are.
The worst are children who treat doormen (and other building staff, I’d bet) like their servants. Screamed at, cursed at, kicked, punched and, yes, bitten. I’ve experienced it all, including having my tie pulled from the bottom making the knot at the collar points smaller, only having to re-do the entire thing.
Back in the days I would try and hide from these kids. I’d enter the super’s apartment watching the camera, pretending I was looking for an extra set of keys.
“Open the door!” I could hear these children screaming and pounding on the front door, leaving handprints on the glass for good measure. Mind you, the handprints were towards the bottom of the door because of the child’s height, making it a drag to clean because I had to bend to wipe off.
I’d eventually exit the apartment, trudging toward the front. I had to do my job and besides, the door was way too heavy for a child to open.
Adding to the failed attempt to hide, I could hear the child’s mother asking, “Is the doorman there?” And the child answering back with an emphatic, “NO!”
“Where were you?”
“I was getting keys.”
“For somebody in the building.”
“Where are they?”
“The keys or the somebody in the building?”
So would go my third-degree grilling, from the child no less.
In years passed I’ve also learned to open the door and stand behind it as cover, having been punched once in the family jewels by a boy entering the building with his mom.
I had been preoccupied in talking with a resident, and hadn’t noticed the kid taking aim. (Ask me if the mom apologized. Of course not.)
In recent years I’ve endured taunts, threats to my physical well-being and to my continued employment. I’ve been called stupid, a jerk and an A-hole to boot.
(Gives a whole new meaning to child abuse, doesn't it?)
My primary thought in these circumstances is, Do these children’s parents feel the same way about me? Children will always repeat what they hear, so my thinking isn’t so farfetched. Or does this behavior have to do with the way in which these children are being raised?
As a parent myself, I know that raising children is no easy task. But, there really isn’t anyone else to blame.
From my post at the door, I see parents who are oblivious to what their children are doing because they’re too involved in other things, like their work, or cell phone conversations or in what’s going on in the building.
They allow their nannies to spend more time with the kids than they do. Then they are shocked when their children show more respect to the nannies than to other adults in authority.
Maybe some parents don’t care how their children behave because they’re the privileged type, the attitude being that doormen are “the help” and should simply put up and shut up about their kids.
Then, too, some children are spoiled. They get to do everything and anything and get away with it no matter what.
It’s hard being a doorman in these situations. We tread a fine line between demanding some respect and either lecturing or otherwise disciplining someone else’s kid.
I find it particularly hard to keep my composure when a child steps off the elevator and orders me to open the door. Yep, I figure, you’re growing up to be just like your folks.