How was your weekend? I hope it was awesome! We didn’t do much which was lovely. Yesterday we went to Chatswood and I have to say it got me thinking about this current topic of people hating on kids in public.
We decided to have lunch in a cafe and were immediately directed towards the corner. No worries, I could keep the pram out of the way there. Addie was happy in her high chair but being the almost 8 month old she is, was keeping up a constant stream of chatter with a few bursts of yelling. (In this sense, she is truly my child.) We were interacting with her and even though she probably has no idea what we’re saying we always remind her about ‘inside voice’. It’s the teacher in me, can’t help it. I don’t want to stifle her but I also understand that a child yelling incessantly isn’t the best idea in a cafe. It’s important to have respect for other people and as parents we are committed to instilling this in Addie. But…a young couple nearby spent the entire time sighing and glaring at us. It was an open air cafe, they were 10 metres away, we were in a loud mall. But to them we shouldn’t have been there, we, and our child, didn’t belong there.
And so it seems this situation is being replayed a lot lately. The latest is the case of the shopping mall banning yelling children from their playground. I mean COME ON, kids yell in playgrounds. They’re not called quiet-grounds. They’re designed for them to let loose and burn off some energy. Here’s an idea, how about when planning a shopping mall, you don’t put the playground next to an area where people want to enjoy a quiet meal? Another known case was of a screaming baby in a cafe. Apparently the parents did nothing and then verbally abused some other patrons as the child was special needs. I don’t agree with how the parents reacted but perhaps they just snapped. Would I do something if Addie was screaming like a banshee? Absolutely yes, I would. I would have tried to soothe Addison or removed ourselves from the situation. But how’s about the people around? Instead of glaring, perhaps they could have offered to help the mother move the pram outside or offered a smile? One of those I was there too, once upon a time smiles. Rather it’s this vitriol, this seething anger and blame focused on parents for raising a generation wrong.
Look, I get that the older generation struggles with this issue because of the view and social norms of their day but I find a lot of younger people have a real disdain for kids and to some extent Mums. I read some comments recently from a young women telling Mums we ‘…should go to Maccas for our coffees. You don’t belong in cafes. Or stay in parks. Just don’t sit too close to me…‘ Heaven forbid Addison should sit too close to you. You might catch baby!! I find the use of the word belong most insulting. It’s almost discrimination…maybe it is? Of course, this is probably the kind of person who then tells you you’re a bad parent for going to McDonalds with your child as it’s encouraging childhood obesity.
You can’t win man.
I think it’s all about being sensible. My Mum’s group meets on a green, we grab coffees and then sit where our bubs can roll around. We don’t take Addison out for dinners because she’s in bed by 6.30 at the latest and would lose her mind in a packed restaurant at this time. (If we want to go out for dinner, we get a babysitter so we too can enjoy some time off. We need a break too sometimes.) If we go to a Cafe, yeah she might make some noise but we’re aware when enough is enough. We respect others, but surely we, and Addison deserve some respect too?
Should we be relegated to our homes and fast food restaurants until our kids are older? Perhaps you think so. And you are entitled to your opinion but so am I. Like I said, approaching the situation sensibly from both sides with a little compromise and tolerance would work I reckon. As well as realising that kids are well, kids. And they can be loud and unruly and are in fact incapable of being adult like because they are not in fact, adults. They can be expected to behave well and have the best parents in the world but sometimes they have meltdowns. And you know, standing there judging a mother or father whilst their child screams blue murder is soooo helpful, not. Or better yet, going up to them and explaining what they’re doing wrong in their parenting is a winner too. (This one often comes from older gentlemen I’ve been told.)
You know, to be honest I’ve seen many adults behave worse in public than any child I’ve seen. (Myself included, I can attest to the fact that I have definitely had moments I’m not proud of. I also feel the people who live above us should most definitely be not seen nor heard.)
Sometimes I feel that as a parent all I do is defend my child and my position as a Mum (Often as a SAHM) to certain people. It’s kinda exhausting being the one to compromise all the time for fear of offending others. What I mean is, just as some people choose not to have children, I chose to. And I have a right to take my smushy out into the world and be proud of her. Sometimes I feel I’m walking a line where I have to prove I’m still the same Mez as I was before when in fact I’m not. Eeeek, am I making sense?
When did parenthood become such a battlefield? Can we not just tolerate more, on both sides?