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.