"Children are like farts. You don't mind your own, but other people's are unbearable."
There's an old saying that says, "Children are like farts. You don't mind your own, but other people's are unbearable." I cackled when I first heard it because it's absolutely true.
I adore my daughter, but I can't be expected to deal with kids en masse while sober.
I'm not anti-children. I believe they should be both seen and heard, and encouraged and allowed to make mistakes and play and go nuts on occasion. I'm the product of parents who are huge fans of kids, and I had an abnormally well-rounded childhood filled with camp-outs and music lessons and long days in our giant backyard as a result. I applaud them.
I just can't do it. I don't know what happened, but sometime between then and adulthood, I started having overwhelming anxiety around the chaos that is exclusive to the company of children. I understand they aren't any different than I was at that age; I just can no longer tolerate it.
In my early twenties, I would earnestly tell people, "I'm waaay too selfish to be a parent. I just want to be the cool aunt!" and then, you know, life happened.
Honestly, I'm nuts about my kid but I also understand that I've gotten a bit of an underhanded pitch when it comes to parenting. My daughter was sleeping 10 hours every night at six weeks old. She was potty-trained over a weekend at my mother's house when she was three.
She wants to spend her free time cuddling with kitties, doing art projects, or having quality time with her father and me. She's heartbroken when we can't have a family dinner together.
Her only disciplinary issue in school was when she upset a peer by calling him "obnoxious" ... when she was five. She's an anomaly, which I'm thankful for because otherwise, I'm sure I don't have the patience for it.
This being said, the more I've become familiar with the World of Mommying in the last decade, the more I'm starting to realize my disdain for children isn't entirely their fault. I have conflicting feelings about how much control a parent actually has over his or her child because I believe in acknowledging children's autonomy so they can grow up to be independent, fully-realized adults.
However, I'm also staunchly against raising an assh*le who can't interact with others without a sense of entitlement. A lot of parents apparently don't agree with this.
The level of parental nonchalance when their progeny are being insufferable turds is staggering — something I'm sure you've noticed if you've ever found yourself in a casual dining or bargain retail environment. I don't include two- and three-year-olds in that assessment; that's a whole different variety of "crazy." But the post-preschool age kids who are getting away with acting like monsters are horrifying to watch.
I can't count how many casual playdates I've attempted where a school-age kid will get needlessly rough with the others and the mom will gently yell "Play niiiiiice!" then giggle some disclaimer like, "Well, boys will be boys!" while her offspring immediately returns to hurling his entire body into other people or snatching his peers out of the way by the hair. (God help you if you've ever endured an indoor inflatables park. Those places are just brightly-lit Thunderdomes that must be run by child-hating sadists.)
Obviously, I don't think my kid is a special snowflake who will experience life without injury; I'm just shocked by how perfectly fine other parents are ignoring their kids' outright violence and, at the very least, a complete lack of social aptitude.
Given that this generation of parents have been accused of being "helicopter"-ish in method, it makes no sense that so many are still observing childhood assh*lery and just allowing it to continue, and then acting shocked when those kids grow into rude, disengaged teenagers with no consideration for others or competence with manners.
I don't mean that every child needs to go to finishing school but maybe teach them the basics, like honoring others' personal space or how to make eye contact and listen to other people.
Luckily, I'm also aware that it does, in fact, take a village to raise a child, which is why I never hesitate to call a kid out when he or she is being violent, whiny, or just outright awful.
A lot of parents aren't really fond of my method, which is hilarious because that's how life works. Teach your kid how to interact within society or it will absolutely educate your child for you, probably in ways you'd be horrified by. A "Hey, could you stop being a jerk? Seriously, back off, kid" from me is much gentler than humanity will be in the long run.
On a personal level, kids make me anxious because they're needy and pushy and rude, but that's not fair of me to say because they don't know any better and they can't be held responsible for their ignorance. Adversely, kids are also imaginative and honest and irreverent, which are all things I adore that most adults have forgotten how to be. I'm still tempted to spend boring family reunions at the kids' table.
I get that children aren't products to be churned out formulaically, but planting seeds of how to respect each other rarely backfires if nurtured over time. Kids are like new sprouts: they are beautiful regardless of their potential, but over time, they need to be gently pruned to stay healthy and thrive in the future.
Why wouldn't you want your kid to feel confident and comfortable in the world, knowing how to interact with others and earn respect from his or her peers? Isn't it worth the trouble of putting up hard boundaries and adhering to them now to see your child equipped for the world later?
Your kids are worth it. Put in the damn time, parents.
In the meantime, I'll be over here teaching my daughter how to act with diplomacy and decorum so she'll be taken seriously when she's not a kid anymore ... and seeking out vacations far away from family-centric resorts.