R.L. SAUNDERS

writer attempting real life in the middle of everybody else's vacation

This Mothers’ Day, remember to keep your damn kids in the basement where they belong.

There’s a No Kids movement afoot. And as a parent of a his-mine-ours brood of five, I couldn’t be more delighted.

Airlines and restaurants with No Kids sections? Perfect. That means people in the Families with Children section understand that babies cry, toddlers throw tantrums at the least convenient times, and kids up to around, oh 18ish, do a lot of whining. And it’s all developmentally normal human behavior–not the mark of poor parenting, or “breeding” as some of the angrier, super clever childless-by-choicers call it.

Society is no place for children.

While we’re on the topic, I want to confess that I get uneasy when my childless-by-choice friends are compelled to reassure me that they are definitely not “anti-children” because they’re perfectly fine with well-behaved, well-raised, well-parented children. Spoken like people with absolutely no idea what kind of anxiety is involved with parenting in your presence. Did you know that we beg the universe not to let our normal kids do something annoying but normal-for-their-age in front of you?

And thanks so much, but no, I really don’t want the honor and pressure of being your token example of a parent of “well-raised” children. Because sooner or later, my kids are going to act like kids in front of you.

Just what is the mark of a well-raised child, exactly? Are those the babies who don’t scream in church? Or the toddlers who never throw themselves on the ground in the gummy snack isle at Publix because they want the Disney gummies, not the generic shark gummies?

A well-raised child definitely can’t be the irritating preschooler who wants nothing more out of life at the moment than for you, refined childless being, to look at his new Hot Wheels Color Shifter and tell him it’s amazing. Or the sticky, inconsolable kid who’s wailing behind you in line for the public restroom because her ice cream scoop fell off the cone.

Childless-by-choice friends, would you define “well-raised child” for the rest of us idiots? Please? For Mothers’ Day?

While you’re at it, tell us how to accomplish it. But be very specific, if you don’t mind, because your general wisdom about how kids ought to conduct themselves is actually more maddening than helpful. And it sort of makes you seem ignorant and miserable.

“Get this thing away from me!”

So bring on the Anti-Kid Movement. Absolutely. In addition to the No Kids restaurants and airlines, I’m hoping for No Kids grocery stores, hair salons, auto centers, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, beaches, and theaters. Win-win.

I can’t wait until I don’t have to be around people rolling their eyes and making those phlegmy guttural noises–adult tantrums, I call them. That always strikes me as far less age-appropriate than whatever annoying thing my preschooler did.

In the meantime, though, angry childless-by-choicers, I’m going to keep bringing my spawn out of the basement and into your world.

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