Raising (non)cultured kids

I am a mom. Of two boys. They attend Hungarian kindergarten, speak Croatian with me, Serbian with their dad, German with their babysitter and watch cartoons in English. I teach my little one sign language, the same as I did with the older one. Both of them signed ‘banana’ first – quite a complicated sign, since it requires left and right hand coordination, which for a one year old is not always the easiest task to do. We started swimming at 4 months old and took on some music lessons as soon as P was 2 years old. I don’t think of myself as an overambitious mom and I have no plans to create geniuses from my children I am simply trying to use the opportunities we have around us and provide them with as much possibility as I can, because my job now is to do the best I can for my kids.

Music is therapeutic, it helps bonding and makes the baby smarter. With all that in mind I bought a ticket to the Baby Concert at Palace of Arts (Budapest, Hungary) weeks ago. Yes, it is that popular! It seems many young moms seem to think it’s never to early to start (un)culturing you baby. The sounds and music of the Baby Concert series have been dreamt up to suit the needs and abilities of very small children. The babies and toddlers stay close to their parents, absorbing the unique experience of music as they watch those closest to them respond to the sounds all around, says the leaflet. I wanted to see my baby boy’s reaction to flute, clarinet and fagott, expose him to new sounds and rhythms. I planned to write a post on how great it is that we have such a thing in Budapest and how cool of those music academy students to come and share their gift with sometimes not so perfect audience. But you know what, kids were not a problem. They crawl around, some of them even cry or throw a toy in your face. That is what they do! It is the moms who completely blew my mind away.


Instead of entering a concert hall I entered a picnic area. Groups of moms sitting in circles, having coffee and super-important conversations all the way through the 30 MINUTES CONCERT. Seriously, when did it become impossible to live without coffee and snacks even during concerts and theatre performances? How is it acceptable to come to a concert, turn your back to the performers and have a lively conversation with your friend all the way through it? And what are we showing our children by doing such things?


There is a theatre in Zagreb, Croatia – Mala scena – we visit whenever we get a chance. Before every performance Vitomira Lončar, actor and owner of the theatre, gathers children around and tells them how they should behave. She talks about the story they are about to meet and how this story doesn’t like when the cell phone rings and she gets very frightened. In a playful way, as the way of introduction she teaches kid how they should behave at the theatre, except…is it possible she is actually teaching the parents? I was surprised when I heard this the first time.  Doesn’t everybody who comes to the theatre know that you DON”T EAT OR DRINK during the performance, you should SWITCH OFF YOUR TELEPHONE, and NO TALKING? After being on a number of performances with my son since then, I learned that no, it is not a wide known fact. On a contrary, if you make faces and throw ugly looks to people opening chocolate to their 9 year old during a 45 minutes long gig, you are the weirdo.

The bottom line

We have super intelligent children who are cultivated to love music, speak languages and by the age of two use your smartphone better than you do, but we somehow forget to teach them the basic norms of social behavior. Do parents not know these norms either, or is it just easier this way?



About the author

Petra Tkalcec

Petra is a Co-founder and Executive Editor of EastOK Europe. She is a Croatian living in Budapest with her Serbian husband, two sons and an English bulldog.


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