This morning while procrastinating on the millions of tasks I have on my to do list, I came across this article at the Star. It's nothing I haven't read before from Childless by Choice authors. Kids are all out of control, parents are selfish, every parent they come across is astounded by the fact that they don't want kids, and people hate their cats. Let me address this one at a time.
Kids are all out of control. Bullshit! That's it. I call bullshit. Yeah, everyone has come across a kid melting down at the grocery store, restaurant, mall, school, park. Does that mean that they're out of control? No, it means they're tired, angry, frustrated, hungry. You can easily tell whether that kid is out of control based on what their parents are doing. Are they addressing it? Talking to the kid, hugging them, marching them out of the facility willingly or backpack style? But you know what? As someone who's ears are finely tuned to hearing meltdowns and someone who frequents places where parents and kids frequent, I don't hear that many meltdowns. I heard a newborn crying at the grocery store a couple weeks ago. Mom was wrapping up her purchases and heading out. See, parents who are addressing kids needs, are not letting kids out of control. If you're going to classify out of control by a child talking a little too loudly for your taste, well then I can't help you there. Some kids are quiet, some aren't. Some people are quiet, some aren't. Go to any trendy restaurant after work on a Friday and I will gladly point out patrons who are loudly putting my kids to shame.
I can count on my hands the grand total of kids I've seen out of control at a restaurant. One! I was appalled. I was pissed because Dearest and I were out in a rare opportunity without our kids and just wanted a meal and some conversation. This kid was screaming and the parents weren't doing a damn thing. (This wasn't a family restaurant) I actually said something to them to the effect of they need to take their little guy out to calm him down and stop disturbing everyone. So yes, there are out of control kids, however considering I've been at family restaurants for the past 5 years or so and have only encountered one, says a lot.
If you're upset about a child trying to get their parent's attention while you're trying to have a conversation, seriously? Deal. You can't have it both ways. Inattentive parents have out of control children, attentive parents do have the snafus, but they are monitored and extinguished as quickly and humanely as possible. I might tell my kids to stop interrupting. That works great for my particular 5 year old, not so great for my 3 year old. Age and impulse control isn't a myth and so your expectation that they should be perfect little beings, is going to be sorely disappointed at some point. But guess what? Most parents don't enjoy behaviour snafus. We're usually tired, mortified, frustrated and trying to quickly find a way to diffuse the situation ASAP. If I could snap my fingers and have perfectly behaved little kids, I'd do it. But I have to admit, it'd get a little Stepford-y and boring quick.
Again, it boils down to standards. Children have to be taught. Unfortunately they're not programmable machines that you can set to perfect. Occasionally, one of mine might speak a little too loudly or excitedly in a public place and they are automatically told to talk more quietly. If that offends you, sorry, can't be helped, but consider your meaning of out of control, because that ain't it.
Parents are selfish. Sure. While wiping my butt in my old age wasn't the reason why I had kids (it's that spare kidney or chunk of liver) I reckon it's more altruistic to adopt kids given that there are so many unwanted. But like many people, I chose to have my own. And like many people, I chose to take care of my own. I've worked for child protection agencies, I've donated in spades to children related causes, hospitals, education (and don't start whining about tax dollars going to education when you don't use it, because there are a million other things your tax dollars go to that do not benefit you directly). I teach my kids to care about the world. My oldest donates his piggy bank money regularly to needy causes. You'll find that while parents with larger families might be driving those Godawful minivans (guilty!) we are also whizzes at stretching a buck and lessening our economic and ecological footprint. I know it's hard to believe sometimes, but go ask a family with 3-5 kids on whether they buy tonnes of new clothes/toys/supplies for their younger children. There's a reason second hand clothing stores specifically for children make a rather tidy existence. Reusable bags are essential, as are containers, paper towel is too expensive, hell I even reuse storage bags for dry goods. Nothing is written in stone and there are checks and balances. Yeah I drive a minivan, but my inlaws who have no kids living at home drive an aging SUV for their trailer they use twice a year for two-four weeks which is way less efficient than my minivan. They use paper towel and my MIL insists on shrink wrapping everything from clothes to photos in those bags and then they are tossed. They easily go through as much as our family of five! I wish I could say they're the exception, but you very well know they are not.
The last point, be prepared for this. I have never come across a parent who gave a flying fig about whether someone else chooses to have kids or not. Really! I don't care, if you don't want kids, don't have them! I'm glad you've taken the time to think out your choice. It's an incredibly hard and demanding job, it's very fulfilling for me, but I can easily see how that wouldn't be the case for everyone. I understand the beauties of quiet alone time, probably far more than any Childless by Choice couple ever will! There are times I'd love to grab Dearest, pick up and travel somewhere warm sans my little entourage and I can't though we have the means, so it means when we do slip away for a weekend, that time is treasured. Sleeping in, sick days, a chance to read uninterrupted, all great and I can understand (easily!!!!) how people would want this. Believe me, any parent would and those who say they don't, are lying! I'm sure those astounded folks are out there, but I really, really, really do not think they are in any way near a majority. I've never come across any, and I come across a heck of a lot of parents. Because you know what? Parents are too freaking busy to care about your fertility choices, we have much better or pressing things to occupy our time with, trust me.
I gave my 5 year old the run down of the article and he said "That's not very happy about kids." While I'm sure many people don't care what he thinks, a lot of what children say can really be profound. Essentially, if you're going to look for the negative in everything, you're going to find it. You don't have to like kids, I'm not suggesting you start, but take your own opinion with a grain of salt. I don't like cilantro, hate it, loathe it. Am I ever going to find a redeeming quality about it? Not likely. Whereas with onions, it's something I've been opening up about. I can tolerate them in my food in small and finely diced doses. I'm not about to eat a hunk of one or even medium sized caramelized onions, which I'm told are wonderful, but I can see how they work great in some dishes.
So keep on your beaten path or not, I don't care, not maliciously not caring, but it's really a non issue for me. What I do care about is your generalizations and your interactions with me and my kids. If you're going to generalize about my kids, I'm going to be there contradicting you with the vehemence of a 3 year old. No, they're not angels, but they are pretty well behaved at least in public and if they're not, I'm the first one riding their behinds, so you can save your glances and tsks and chuffs for something else. Better yet, find a better use for your energy because while I'm my children's biggest fan, I'm also their biggest critic and will ride and fine tune them into super human beings come Hell or highwater. However just like me, you're going to have to be patient, because it's an art and like most great works of art, it's going to evolve, take shape, be corrected and most of all, take a few years.
And for the record, while I'm pretty allergic, I do quite like cats. Honest! And since I'm allergic, they loooove me and I will oblige them a tickle or pat despite my allergies. In fact this might surprise you, but most of my friends with kids, also have a cat or two or three hanging around as well.