writer, listener

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

on May 12, 2012

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.

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

  1. Jill says:

    I’d say the same thing if JMc was trying to hold me. /That/ is a well-raised child.

  2. Donna says:

    Happy Mother’s Day, Rhonda! Great article; I, too, raised a child who delighted in throwing temper tantrums at the most inappropriate times. I put the “Momma’s Curse” on her (May you have children just like you!) She now is the mother of two, and that curse works! I’m waiting for the day when there will be a “Age 35 and older” beach….I think teenagers and young people at the beach are sometimes worse than children….but I think that’s just me getting old and ornery. Hope your day is just awesome!

  3. Bonnie says:

    If only I had this technology when my firstborn was little–I wouldn’t have felt so alone and so much of a failure as a parent. Now, parents can read, write, and share the realities of parenthood and know that they are doing the best they can with what they’ve got. It is very important, now, what with the dispersement of families hither and yon. If you have no family or friends, nearby, for support, you can feel depressed and isolated. Long live technology!

  4. amaya73 says:

    Reblogged this on TheBrabbleRabble and commented:
    Awesome post by Rhonda Saunders about parenting in the presence of the “childless-by-choice” set. With three kids of my own and a young niece that I take care of, I have endured judgmental head-shakes and stares when my brood acts like the kids that they are. “Ugh, how dare your daughter climb inside the clothing racks and try to play peek-a-boo!” Um, hello, that’s freaking adorable! “Are ALL of those yours?” perfect strangers exclaim. I want to respond with an equally obnoxious question. “Are you aware that the large spare tire about your midsection is exposed by a crop top that would fit my four-year-old?” Boarding a plane with a toddler invites the deadliest of glances and the wind from 200 huffy sighs ruffles my hair with malodorous disdain. I would love to be free from snarky comments about being a “breeder.” I chuck a poopy diaper in your general direction, judging judgers!

  5. You are damn funny, pardon my Dutch.

    What I can’t stand are those hostile stares from 20-somethings. I feel like saying “stare like that and it’ll blight your womb.”

  6. MaryWitzl says:

    Amen to this. Wish I’d had the internet back when I was laboring at the parent coalface.

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