Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rant: Do Kids Have To Go Everywhere?

Look, I love kids. 

Okay, that's not really true, but I love my own kid, and I will love my grandchildren whenever they arrive.  But the truth is, I don't love all kids all the time, everywhere.  The truth is, I would welcome kid free shopping days or kid free restaurants. Maybe some people can shop, or eat, or do anything at all while their child is screaming, but it's more difficult for those of us who aren't on Valium.  And maybe ignoring this behavior is all part of some new parenting technique, but I gotta tell you, it's irritating me. 

Whatever happened to babysitters?

If kids aren't running loose, they're in strollers the size of SUVs.  Just in case you didn't know, they have the right of way everywhere.  When a stroller is barrelling through the crowd, you are to step aside, make cooing noises and comment on the child's beauty.  That, or the stroller pusher will stare you down and sigh in exasperation because you don't know the rules of the road.  (For the record, there are a lot of ugly babies out there.)  And can someone please explain the phenomenon of the parent pushing the stroller while the child is trailing behind them screaming?  Here's an idea: put the kid in the stroller so he's not stumbling around in 98 degree weather and give him a drink of water.  Just a thought.

Even my office building, one of the only kid free zones on earth, has been invaded.  Last Thursday, I am waiting for the elevator outside my office when the door opens and out comes seven kids under the age of...oh, I don't know...five, and a frazzled looking, very pregnant woman.  The kids are all fighting, yelling and crying.  Frazzled lady says, 'let's go surprise Daddy!'  Jesus, poor Daddy.  What if Daddy's in a meeting?  Or in the middle of a project, or a conversation with his boss?  As I hold the door for Mom and her parade of crying offspring, I can't help wonder how many more precious little darlings she and Daddy are planning to bring into the world.

I'm just sayin'.

Equally annoying are the mothers and fathers who are desperate to prove their skill to anyone within earshot and believe they are constantly auditioning for Parent of the Year.

'You are so smart!'
'Mommy loves you so much!'
'You're such a handsome boy!'
'When we get home, do you want Daddy to read you a book?'
Kiss, kiss, kiss, look lovingly into baby's eyes, kiss, kiss, kiss, lift baby in the air, kiss, kiss, look around to see who's watching, kiss, kiss.

I've considered printing fake certificates and carrying them with me at all times so I could hand them one and say, 'You win, okay?  You're the most amazing parent I've ever seen. Perhaps on earth. Now please, for the love of God, stop.'

The last straw was Saturday after shopping at the farmer's market. Exhausted from dodging maniacal SUV stroller drivers, B-man and I visit our favorite wine store to wander and shop with other adults of legal age. We're walking down one aisle after the other, browsing and enjoying ourselves when I hear a whiny voice and realize it can only be one thing...a kid.  Someone brought their kid to the liquor store. 

Is nothing sacred?

Image from parenting.com


  1. What about babies in movie theaters. ARGHHHH! Hey I'm totally with you on this one. I'm old-fashioned - have you ever heard of discipline!? And yes you can discipline a child without corporal punishment and still get your point across. When my kid cried in a store, I swiftly took him outside, had 'that talk and look' and if he didn't shut up, it was back home for him and more of that look and that talk. He learned quick.

    I'm so looking forward to grandchildren I cannot stand it!

  2. AMEN! Behind every obnoxious, uncontrolled, snot-nosed, whining tantrum-throwing child, there is a stupid parent who has NO training, NO concept of discipline or social civility and NO clue!

    I would support any place of business that would stand up in this twisted atmosphere of "child worship" and ban children, er, I mean special unique little snowflakes who are told they are smarter and prettier while being groomed to be brats for a lifetime!

  3. LOL. I don't have kids and never wanted any, so I freely admit I am biased against them. My husband and I deliberately choose to eat brunch every weekend in our local pub SPECIFICALLY to avoid children and have a quiet meal. Nothing bugs me more on a Sunday morning than discovering that three families have decided to bring their 7 children to the pub and now they are all running around, crawling charmingly on the dirty carpet and fighting each other with pool cues. So now my local is a Chuck E. Cheese!?

  4. I'm going to get on the boat with all of you. I also never wanted children and not that I'm in my mid-forties, I still have no regrets. I'm always amazed at how different parenting has become compared to the way I was raised. We would have NEVER been allowed to behave badly in public. My mother could just look your way and give the fear of God. We were taught manners and respect to our elders and my parents were not afraid of babysitters. I'm going to assume that these parents feel that all the spoiling, and doting on these screaming children will, one day, produce a better person. But all I can see coming out of it is an adult who's not able to deal with reality on their own. An adult faced with people who don't see him as perfect and wonderful as mommy did and can't understand why. And an adult who will forever be disappointed with not getting his way all the time. I just can't see that telling your children no every once in a while is such a bad thing. As a grown person, they're going to face it almost every day of their lives. Wouldn't it be better to make them stronger, self-sufficient human beings able to make it on their own?

  5. I was NOT the perfect mother, but my son always said thank you and please, and looked at people in the eye when he greeted them with a handshake. It upsets me to no end that he will not send thank-you notes! I also made him do his own laundry starting when he was 10 years old - it's funny to see how through the years he's had to teach other folks his age how to do it!

    It's the time of 'helicopter parenting' and it's only going to get worse. Thank goodness there are people like Lenore out there. http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/

  6. Word to your mother!! (OK, that was bad.)

    I work in a library (Sssshhh!) in the information services department, where all of the public access computers, word processors, and in-house databases are located. Every day we have people attempting to study, research, write and concentrate. And every day someone brings a hysterically screaming child into our midst, plops them down on the floor, and proceeds to ignore them for the duration of a game of online poker or search session on eHarmony.com. Grrrrrr!

  7. Great rant! I sympathize completely. I will leave a store rather than be subjected to an extended tantrum or excessive whining. What really makes me cringe, however, is when the parent hollers at the kid, ramping up the anxiety level even more.

  8. AMEN!!! I raised my kids to have proper manners so that when we went out to a nicer restaurant, other diners and myself, would not be disturbed!! I think that if these parents who can conveniently ignore their children want to pay for my meal, then by all means, bring your child into the bar area of the restaurant! Otherwise - stay HOME! UG!!

  9. Dear Commenters, thanks for your thoughtful responses to this post. I just read a local news article about the debate around actually banning children from some businesses and the arguments for and against this idea.

    Honestly, I like the idea of having some places that are off limits to kids, in the same way they are off limits to pets. At the same time, I remember my days as a young mother in public with a child that wasn't exactly behaving. It's hard, and I always appreciated the tolerance and understanding of others as I struggled to know exactly how to manage those situations.

    Still, I believe boundaries of some kind could and should be established in many businesses, especially movie theaters and restaurants. I see nothing wrong with kid free nights or kid free seating.

    Here's the thing: if I go to someone's home who has children, I will expect to deal with them as graciously as I can. However, I will also expect to eat dinner or shop without a kid running circles around me squaling and fighting with his brother. In return, I'll leave my dog at home.

  10. There is a big difference between kids and dogs! Yes some kids are badly educated but so are some adults. Children are a blessing.

  11. Hey Josephine. Nice post and funny too. The weird thing is, as a parent myself with two kids aged 5 and 3, I think I am well placed to see both sides of the argument. I think the days of stay at home kids, to be seen and not heard, are gone, and that's a good thing. On the other hand, I think you make a perfectly valid point about kid-free zones and/or times - it isn't a bad thing at all.

    I think some of the change is also to do with how we as society (in the US I'm sure, and here in the UK and pretty much everywhere in the western world and beyond) have become so commercial. When I was growing up in the late seventies and eighties, kids my age didn't spend their lives shopping with parents, meeting at the shopping mall every damn day and eating out. We stayed at home, played with toys, went swimming, climbed mountains, played cops and robbers, and whatever else kids did. Now, I fear that for a lot of kids, the idea of spending a day out at the shopping centre is the norm and thus you see parents and their kids everywhere!

  12. Hi Michael, you bring up an interesting point that I hadn't thought of. Yes, the culture has changed, and the way we spend time with our kids is different. Like you, my siblings and I also spent time using our imaginations to entertain ourselves, and I'm glad for that now. A bit more imagination and a bit less consuming could be a very good thing in my opinion. Thanks for adding your perspective - I always like hearing from you.



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