The Anti-Kid Movement

A recent slew of articles has been driving me bonkers: (see also this one and this one).  Restaurants, airlines, grocery stores are all lashing out against children and their parents, and I am left confused, frustrated, and incensed.

Most annoying are the ignorant comments appearing below the articles from illiterate non-parents who assume INCORRECTLY that only children with bad parents misbehave.  News Flash, IDIOTS: ALL CHILDREN MISBEHAVE!  All kids are loud!  Do you think that, just because you don’t have any, you get a monopoly on being annoyed by their noise and tantrums?  You know who’s REALLY sick of noisy, misbehaving kids? The PARENTS of those noisy, misbehaving kids.

I recently had a birthday, and in honor of the occasion, and after a LONG day at work, we (the whole family) went to On the Border, a chain, Mexican, family restaurant at about 7 p.m. on a Monday night.  We had been there for about 5 minutes, and Gretchen, my 18-month-old daughter, started making happy (but admittedly screechy and annoying) sounds.  We hadn’t even ordered yet.  And this guy comes over to me and asks if I have any idea how screeching my daughter’s noises are?  Without letting me answer, that yes, I have a PERFECT idea of how screeching and annoying her noises are, he went on to inform me that he was just trying to enjoy a nice quiet evening (keep in mind, at a family, Mexican restaurant at 7 p.m. on a week night), but couldn’t because of her noise.  “Get your kid under control” was basically the message.  This seriously pissed me off so bad, I almost invited him to continue the discussion out in the parking lot.  Seriously.

All *I* wanted was a quiet evening.  All *I* wanted was a chance to relax and enjoy celebrating a special occasion with my family.  What I didn’t want was to be confronted or verbally assaulted, in front of my wife and children, in public, on my birthday.  These people throw out “get a babysitter,” like as if that had never occurred to us parents.  Like it is some simple, free, magical solution.  First, it is expensive.  You add paying a babysitter to the cost of dinner and a movie, you are looking at $100+ easy.  Second, we are new to the area, and don’t know any babysitters.  And third, maybe, though they are unruly and loud and, betimes, I will be the first to admit, annoying, I want to spend time with them.  Because I have children, do I deserve to eat all my meals out at McDonalds for the next 18+ years?  Because I have procreated, should I be subjected to dirty looks and nasty comments every time I go grocery shopping?

Once I was on an international flight, seated next to a woman with an infant.  That infant cried the ENTIRE flight.  I didn’t have kids at the time.  I wasn’t even married.  Did I relish every second?  No.  Did I wish the baby would stop crying?  Yes. Would I have preferred sitting next to someone else?  Absolutely.  But it never once occurred to me that that baby did not deserve to be on the flight, or that that mother was a bad mother.  That’s just life.  Traffic happens.  Soccer games get rained out.  Favorite shirts get ripped.  Movies sell out.  High school crushes go out with our best friends who then rub it in our faces (hey, we’ve all been there).  Life is full of imperfections and disappointments; all you can change is your attitude.

I love my kids.  No one is more mortified when they act up in public.  I try my hardest to keep them under control.  I am, I would argue, a good parent.  Not perfect, but trying.  The thing is, kids will be kids.  And if I’m going out in public, there is a good chance they are going to be with me.  And there is an EXCELLENT chance that they are not going to be perfect. And I promise you they won’t be silent.  But why does that impact my right to go to a restaurant/go shopping/take a flight?  If you don’t like it, why don’t YOU stay home?  I guarantee that your nasty looks and snarky comments and bad attitude will not be missed.  Kids are people too, and so are their parents.  They have rights just as important and valuable as yours.  DEAL WITH IT!!!

Or you are welcome to join the parking lot portion of the discussion as well.

17 thoughts on “The Anti-Kid Movement

  1. Interesting post. I think I agree with most of it.

    I can’t come at it from the same place, mainly because I would never celebrate anything at a restaurant. Just not my thing.

    I do think the guy you’re talking about sounds like a douche. There are probably best practices for bringing up something that annoys you, and he sounds like a failure of the art.

    I think they have the right to be annoyed–not that I would take it any better than you did, I probably just wouldn’t have been there anyway. Again, personal preference– your kids have the right to be there until the law or the policy says otherwise, and you have the right to take your kids anywhere you’re allowed to.

    • I’m not saying he does not have a right to be annoyed. When other peoples’ kids are noisy at restaurants/movies/grocery stores I, too, am annoyed. And, as I admitted, I am annoyed BY MY OWN kids in these situations as well. Kids are annoying sometimes, I don’t contest that. But so what?

      Can you imagine if, every time you went somewhere where kids were a nuisance, you were expected to pay $7 to $10 to leave them behind. Would these “always get a babysitter” enthusiasts be pleased at the prospect that, if they want to enjoy kid-free dining/shopping/flying, they are going to be charged an extra $7-$10 an hour for that benefit? NO! They would whine about that as well, for sure, because they are a bunch of whiners.

      Being a parent requires monumental amounts of patience. These people have to put up with our kids, what, for a few minutes, from a distance, with no personal responsibility. After that, they get to go on about their quiet, peaceful lives. They think they are annoyed in those few minutes, we have to put up with this same behavior 24/7 for the next 18 years. We have to be patient with our kids; the least they can do is be a little bit patient with us.

      • why do people without kids just have to deal with it because you do not want to pay a babysitter. I am sorry, but when I go out to dinner I do NOT expect kids to be running around and screaming. When my sister and I did that my parents brought us home. If you are at chucky cheese, McDonalds or a loud chain restaurant maybe you can get away with that. But when I go out to a restaurant, I do not expect to find kids screaming (out of joy or not) and annoying everyone. Why do people without kids have to just “deal with it?”

        • Karen, thank you for your comments. Believe me, I understand your position. For the record, my kids weren’t running around. And they weren’t screaming. She just let out a happy (but, as I admitted, annoying) screech. I was embarrassed instantly, and quickly did what I could to attempt to get her to not do it anymore. And we got it under control. To the extent we could. Kids are very difficult to control. They have minds of their own. Some parents do better than others, but I know that some don’t even try. This is frustrating to me as well.

          And it’s not that I don’t want to pay a babysitter or can’t pay a babysitter. Some times. But every time? If I had to pay a babysitter every time I went some place my kids could potentially be a little bit of a nuisance, I would quickly go bankrupt. And maybe this is what the message is: if you have kids, either pay a babysitter, or you don’t get to go to these places until your kids are old enough to be kept under perfect control. Which I think is a bit harsh. But maybe that is the message.

          I do understand that, if you are out for dinner at a nice, sit-down restaurant, you want to enjoy your evening. And you don’t want to be subjected to screeching. I completely respect that. I don’t bring my kids to those restaurants. But On the Border would fall, I would argue, somewhere in between high end luxury and McDonalds, more towards the McDonalds end.

          I did say “deal with it,” and that may have been a bit harsh. I was speaking out of frustration. They are my kids, and I chose to have them (as I will address more below), but there is dealing with them and there is dealing with them. If we are at a restaurant, my family and your family, and my kid lets out a screech, that is going to be annoying for you, I will be the first to concede. And if I don’t get that under control, or even attempt to get it under control, then I am a bad parent, and an obnoxious citizen. But I promise you that I am trying. That I don’t want them to scream. That I am truly sorry that you are being subjected to that. Does that change things at all for you? Can you find a place for compassion? For some patience while I try to stop the annoying behavior? Or are you just too annoyed? I respect your position either way; at this point I’m just asking.

          And, I never said you have no right to be annoyed. Annoying behavior is annoying. Being annoyed by annoying behavior is your right. But it’s what you do about it. I encounter annoying people all the time: bad drivers, people that chew with their mouths open, people who can’t form an articulate sentence. Is this annoying? Yes. Do I have a right to be annoyed? I would argue, yes. But do I think bad drivers should be forced off the streets until their driving is up to my standards? People with bad table manners should be prohibited from eating in public? People who can’t speak intelligently should be forced to attend mandatory grammar courses until they can converse eloquently? No. I am annoyed, but I “deal” with it (and thank my lucky stars that I don’t myself drive like I’m blind, eat like a pig, or speak like a backwoods hillbilly).

          I don’t take my kids to nice restaurants. I never take my kids to movies. I have flown with them a couple of times, but I bring plenty of snacks and toys, and I don’t fly first class. I’m not even opposed to restaurants prohibiting kids. This might be an excellent compromise. If you’re going there, you don’t want to deal with kids, and that’s your prerogative (and believe me, I don’t blame you; I often wish I could get away). But if you go to a restaurant that does permit kids, and their parents are making an honest effort to get them to behave, I would hope that even non-parents could be a little tolerant of slight lapses in perfect behavior.

          All I am really, personally annoyed about is this guy’s comment. I know my kid was loud for a second there. I know it’s not the ideal ambiance for casual conversation and pleasant relaxation. But he was rude, his tone and his message, I felt. And what purpose did it serve? It didn’t improve the behavior. It made me feel like crap, on top of feeling embarrassed. Maybe it made him feel better to get his annoyance of his chest. I don’t know. More below.

      • Again, I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t be. I look at this picture, and I am annoyed. That’s why I picked it. But the reason I am annoyed is because I have not one, but two of these at home. And I see that picture, and it instantly conjures up the noise that no doubt accompanies that expression, and the fact that 9 times out of 10 I get home from work and at least one of them is making that exact same face. And will be until we put them to bed. They still wake up sometimes at night, and always wake up too early in the morning. I never get enough sleep. I never get to enjoy peace and quiet. I never get any time alone. A kid throwing a tantrum grates on my nerves because I am always surrounded by a kid that could, at any given moment, throw just such a tantrum. But if you don’t have kids, or your kids are grown, and watching some kid throw a fit for five minutes at the checkout at Wal-Mart because his mom won’t buy him M&Ms is the only meltdown you are going to be subjected to that day, then, rather than giving unhelpful advice, rolling your eyes, or making rude remarks, why don’t you just take a moment and thank your lucky stars that that kid isn’t your problem 24 hours a day?

        • we all pick our poison. I choose not to have kids….if you choose to have kids…you have to deal with their issues and tantrums….and everyone else does not need to deal with it or thank their lucky stars. We all make choices, and most of my friends/family with children accept the fact that there will be screaming and tantrums, but it does not mean that everyone else needs to deal with it

          • Again, Karen, maybe “deal with it” was a bit harsh. Not the best choice of phrase. But, even just sticking with the admittedly imperfect phrase, let’s define “deal.” People who choose to have kids “deal” (i.e. discipline, try to control, attempt to modify, patiently tolerate) their children’s behavior all the time, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. People without kids, all they have to “deal” with is objectively observing this process, from the outside, with no personal responsibility for what is going on, for a limited amount of time. I can tell you didn’t like my “thank their lucky stars” phrase either, but this is what I mean. Take my Wal-Mart example. The parent in that situation not only has to “deal” with the kid during that 5 minutes you observe, but has to get them to the car, buckle them into their car seat, try to maintain sanity while listening to “kid music” at insanely high decibels all the way home, put up with numerous additional tantrums and noise throughout the remainder of the day, change countless diapers filled with atrocities unmentionable, resign themselves to the fact that every thing they own is in a perpetual state of “sticky,” wake up with them every time they are sick, every time their teeth hurt, every time they have a bad dream, all day, every day, for years, and years, and years. All the non-parent on-looker has to “deal” with is being annoyed by being forced to listen to/watch a couple minutes of that behavior. And again, by “deal with it,” imperfect phrase though it was, I didn’t mean “enjoy it” or even “how dare you be annoyed?” Be annoyed. Bad kids are the most freaking annoying thing in the entire world. But aren’t you glad it’s not your problem? Aren’t you glad you only had to be subjected to that for five minutes?

            Like your friends/family with children, I too accept the fact that there will be screaming and tantrums. I don’t like that any more than I think you do. But I accept it. I am not saying you need to like my kid being annoying in public, all I ask is for understanding: that I am trying, that I am sorry, that I am annoyed too, and that, if I could make it stop, I would. A million times over. You can be annoyed. But please don’t be rude (not you, Karen, as you have been very nice and rational, and eloquent and articulate). I can’t handle rude. The last thing a parent with an acting up kid needs is for unsolicited advice from some pissed off stranger. It’s certainly not going to improve your mood, self-image, or parenting.

            And what’s the alternative? Because it’s annoying for non-parents to observe kids being bad, are we really saying that kids and their parents should not be allowed to go out to eat/grocery shopping/on vacation? And where do we draw the line? Maybe I don’t like people that talk loud/smell funny/wear red shirts. Because I choose not to talk loud/smell funny/wear red shirts, does that give me a right to approach these people and tell them they suck at what they do, and should stay at home until they can figure out how to resolve the offending condition in a way I find acceptable? For society to get along, we all need to be tolerant. Not perfectly un-annoyed. But accepting of the fact that life isn’t noise/germ/bad smell/ugly-free.

            I do appreciate your comments, though, Karen. Thoughtful and thought-provoking. Had we met under different circumstances, I think we could have found ourselves very fond of one another, despite our differences.

          • And not every parent needs to politely nod and smile when you are being a c-u-next-tuesday. Get over yourself.
            When I go out with my daughter, she is usually well-behaved. If she acts up, we go and walk outside for a second to calm down. And I have never had to deal with anyone like you, acting like they own the freakin’ world. Most parents do try to keep their kids under control and most parents handle it quite well.
            You however can’t seem to handle being a human being. Things will annoy you. Do you also have terrible road rage? Do you get mad at adults being drunk and loud in restaurants, or just children? Because not all adults have mastered simple manners either, and apparently neither have you, miss thang.

          • Thanks for the comments, Lana. My thoughts exactly. Nothing gets me madder faster than someone being impatient with my kids. There is more than one way to be annoying in a public restaurant, as this person proved quite nicely.

  2. Dunce Two–thanks for the great post! Some people who don’t have kids get it, and others don’t, and that’s life. Thanks. Laurie

  3. Excuse me, Karen, but do you live on planet Earth? Or is there some other planet fit for human habitation that is completely child-free? I get your argument, I really do, but your attitude stinks a little. Yes, I chose to have kids. Having kids is a lifestyle choice. You chose not to have kids. Being childless is also a lifestyle choice. But can you please explain to me why your rights as a childless adult trump mine? On this planet, for the human race to continue, some of us need to have children. Therefore, as long as we want humans to exist, there will always be children around to annoy you. That’s where the “deal with it” part comes in. Harsh, yes, but true.

    I, like the author if this article, don’t enjoy having my outings ruined by other people’s kids. I also don’t like hearing swearing in public, hearing people speak incorrectly, or people wearing leggings as pants. But as u do not live in a world where everyone exists to make my life easier and just generally more pleasant, I just have to deal with those unpleasant things. They annoy me, but that’s part of living with other people.

    Essentially, I think a little courtesy, compassion and understanding would go a long way, from both sides of this argument. But this article was written in response to a particular incident, as well as a bunch of articles, which imply that the comfort of childless adults should be society’s priority.

    Great article!

  4. Please excuse the typos in my last post. Writing comments on a phone is never ideal!

    Just to add…no one is more annoyed and inconvenienced by the bad behaviour of children than the parents of those children. Generally speaking, as Dunce Two has already stated, a child misbehaving is not due to bad parenting. These “pissed off strangers” seem to assume that us parents couldn’t care less that our kids are being annoying, when nothing could be further from the truth (though there are exceptions to this, of course). And as has already been pointed out, most parents are annoyed and embarrassed by their children’s annoying behaviour, and are doing what they can to correct it. They are working hard to make everyone else’s lives more comfortable. So why isn’t the same courtesy afforded to parents? If we are able to consider others in attempting to control and remedy the behaviour of our kids, surely non-parents can show us some courtesy and tolerate our annoying children for the very, very short amount of time you have to be in their presence.

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