Monday, September 28, 2009

Take My Kid and Shove It.

I take my kids with me everywhere. If you know me, you are well aware of this. I take them to work - Elle was 8 days old at her first Blue Valley rehearsal, she had her own desk at my tax office, and Demi is learning how to dance by being strapped to my chest at class; I take them to lunch - I used to ask if it was okay, now I just show up, Bumbo in hand; I take them to school - my classes always started a week earlier than Elle's . . . plus, she really has a knack for coloring syllabi; I take them to fundraisers, to neighborhood meetings, to First Fridays, to Library events, to karaoke night, to the movie theaters (yep. To see Harry Potter. At the 10 o'clock show.), to blogger meetups, to football parties, to baseball games, to company picnics, to weddings, to the freakin grocery store. And sometimes, I nurse my baby, and sometimes I even - ack! - bring a stroller.

I know this annoys people - I know even WHY it annoys people - but I do it and will continue to do it unless I am asked not to.

I did choose to have children. I didn't choose WHEN to have them - but I did choose to keep them when it looked inevitable that it was going to happen (you know, when I didn't know if my feet were there unless I looked in a mirror - or saw in the same mirror that my ankles really weren't). So, yes, that was a choice that I made - that Jeff and I made - that we were going to be parents and we were going to raise our hybrid spawn among the beauty and the ugliness of this world. I don't remember in this contract signing a clause that said that my kids have to be raised exclusively in my living room - or on the playground - or in front of the horrible pizza pies at Chuck E Cheese - or at Dora signings - or in the Disney store - or in the disease-peppered, fake-food and plastic-world disPLAY ground at Independence Center.

I know I'm different than most people. I love children - not just mine, but kids in general. I love the way they talk, the way they walk, the way they justify stealing fake vomit from their friends's house (oh, haven't I told that story yet?), the way they eat, the way they love. I've loved kids since I barely qualified to be one. So I get that my tolerance began higher and has only soared since I got my own little not-always-perfect-angels. The biggest difference is that now I giggle under my breath when a child is having a tantrum in the middle of a grocery store. It's actually a little less creepy for me now that I have my own kids - tearing up at the playground is a lot more accepted when you have some of your own DNA out there playing on it.

Its one of my loftiest goals in life to not judge people. Its natural for us to believe that our actions are the best - the most worthy choice in our personal situation at a critical time - that's why we do them.

I CHOSE to have children, just as many other people CHOOSE to not have children. One choice is not more proper than the other, more deserving of praise, more liberating. But I do feel at times that some people that I am less worthy of making my own decisions on what I do with my time, who I take with me, and what I'm allowed to tolerate (yeah, my kid whimpering may be a little annoying - but dude, your discreet headset doesn't make your hemorrhoid conversation any more private, nor your un-regimented hygiene schedule and anti-personal space issues any less irritating). I don't ask you to censor your language around my children, if you are engaging in something I find offensive or dangerous, I will take myself away. If my kid shits his pants on an airplane - I'm truly sorry for the inconvenience, but its not like I'm asking you to change him. Your choice to not have kids does not make mine to have them an affront to your lifestyle, but it is also not an abdication of my right to live the same.

As for the obnoxious kids in the restaurants - yeah, they kinda suck. But - news flash - the restaurants want them there. Of course, they'd rather them be behaved, but parents with kids are a huge slice of the population that eat out, and making kids happy make them a lot of fucking money. Unless you're eating out at Lidia's and Pierponts every night, I can guarantee that your $10 dinner is subsidized by a boat load of $2 Kid's Meals.

Whether you have kids or you don't, you're most likely going to judge me for everything I do with my own. All I can do is make sure that my kids think I kick ass and that they have the tools and the confidence to do the same one day.


m.v. said...

I have a kid and don't mind other people's kids if I feel they made an effort to limit my inconvenience.I know that my kid never screamed at the movies,or tripped a waiter at the restaurant,or tipped over a display at the store because I was there to prevent/control/apologize for it.I think the major gripe is with unapologetic assholes who think this is funny and encourage their kids to do stuff like that.

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and why are you talking about a boy? is there something you need to tell me about my sisters?

J.R. said...

Yes, kids are cool...especially my (our) own. But it's all about tolerance and acceptance. Begruding looks from strangers at your well-behaved kids can often be that very sign of intolerance, just cause your kid is being a kid.

Faith said...

Just a quick note to J.R.: As an adult who often shoots those begrudging looks at kids and their parents in public, it's usually the ones that are misbehaving that get my side-eye. Not the well-behaved ones. I like that kind!

Well..."like" may be too strong a word. But I definitely mind them less.

All I can say is it wasn't MY choice to be born, much less to be born without the love for human kind that you were apparently born with, Sponge. Consider yourself lucky, dammit! Kids just are not my thing. When I'm in the salon...I want to be around grown ups. When I'm at the bar...grown ups again. When I was in school, if someone was bringing their kid with them, there would have been hell to pay. Sorry! There just would have.

Oh, and I think you might be incorrect about $10 dinners being subsidized by a bunch of $2 kids meals. Those are losses to a restaurant, along with the free crackers, the plastic cups with lids and straws, and the fucking mess they leave behind that takes extra time to clean up, and slows down the turn on the table.

I don't mind sharing the space in the world with kids and parents of them if I must. But the sense of entitlement you are putting out there is going an eensy bit too far, IMO. (I know...I'm one to talk, right? Believe me, it's making me think!)

Dan said...

It's pretty simple, in my humble opinion. I took my kids everywhere, too, but when they started to get out of hand, I dealt with it, sometimes through calm discipline and sometimes by removing them from the situation. The parents who give us all a bad name are the inconsiderate jerks who blithely ignore their screaming, crying, misbehaving spawn.

Having shared restaurant space with your eldest, I can assure you that you and yours are part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Maybe you should do seminars on how to be a good parent in public.

Faith said...

Agreed with Dan. Your daughter is a pleasure. YOU are a pleasure! Maybe that would make it easier to deal with if I had a class with you that you brought your kids to. :D

Billy Banks said...

I highly doubt that parents eating with their children are responsible for free crackers, styrofoam, and dirty tables costing the food industry any extra money. Nor does it take a bus boy any more time to clean up after a family of four than it does a few grown men drinking beer and eating chicken wings.

Parents bringing their kids to work or any social event that other adults deem "bothersome" is the least of my worries. If I'm eating at a deli or in a movie theater and a baby is crying to the point where I can't stand it there's only a few reasonable options. 1) grin and bare it 2.) ask the parent to do something about their child 3.) talk to management and ask for a ticket refund or a free gyro.

It seems to me that in this day and age the squeaky wheel ALWAYS gets the grease. The people who have been getting their way are those who complain about the misbehaving children. All I have to say to them is if it's not on your property and they aren't harming you: Deal With It. Freedom of speech is an equal right, even if it's a 7 year old demanding rocky road ice cream and a new transformer.

Kids cry,adults blog, and it'll continue on that way until you finally become a real parent and buy your kid that expensive computer they've been wanting.

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