Before you read on, this post, please note the following.
I LOVE children, generally. I work with them, currently, I have been a children’s nurse, a nanny and I am now a parent, who also spends a lot of time with families with small children. I know that children are not adults, I know that sometimes children behave badly despite their parents best efforts to stop them, I also know that children have tantrums and meltdown, because, well, they are kids, and that’s what they do. I also am a tired mother of two children and I know that sometimes parenting can be damn tough and the judgment of other parents is not what you need. Also, let it be noted that I am aware that sometimes children have hidden special needs that can mean they behave in a way that is more challenging. I have babysat other peoples’s children and will continue to do so, I generally like spending time with them, and enjoy being around children. I wouldn’t do the job I did if I didn’t. OK, get it, I LOVE KIDS.
This post is not about those things.
This post is an observation.
When I am out alone, without my own children (rare, cos when I am without my kids, mostly I am at work, surrounded by other people’s) I have noticed that sometimes I find myself frustrated and annoyed by other people’s children. Not by their behaviour, (well, ok, sometimes, but like I said, I don’t know what is going on, so I try not to judge, my own kids can sometimes, in fact often, be less than, ahem, angelic) but by the fact that their parents seem to think that everyone else wants to be subjected to their children and their needs and whims.
I’ll give you an example or two.
I am on the train, going to London, for a day. I am alone, no children. I am reading my book and drinking my coffee. There are two small children, running up and down the train carriage, who decide that they want to look out of the window that I am sat next to. Child one, proceeds to stand on my bag, to be able to see. Child two, also wants to see, so is pushing and shoving it’s sibling, and also standing on my bag, and bumps into me, and coffee spills into my lap and onto my book, whilst I try gently extract my bag from under child one. Parent of said child watches the children and does nothing, until child two decides to climb onto me, or at least get past me to look out the window. I then say loudly, “watch out, I have hot coffee”. The mother comes across, moves the children, who then go over to another window, still trying to push and shove past other passengers. The mother smiles at them, and then ignores the fact that they are basically being rude, disruptive and annoying other passengers.
That mum may have been exhausted, she may have been up all night, worked a night shift, be not feeling well, be stressed or all manner of things, but her letting her children just wander all over a train carriage, pushing and climbing on adults, and their property isn’t acceptable. I wouldn’t actually have minded if she or the children (probably aged 4-6) had asked if they could swap and have my window seat, in fact, I might have even offered, but I was annoyed, so I didn’t.
I am in a cafe, again, alone, (I know, I am so lucky) waiting for my boy to finish his dance class. I am sitting on a sofa drinking my coffee. A family arrive, and the toddler with them comes across and starts to stare at me, and stands there. I humorously comment to the parents that “he’s got a great stare, that will be handy when he’s an adult and someone’s is annoying him” and he was pretty cute, and it was funny. Until the parents comment back “oh, he probably thinks that you are on his sofa, he ALWAYS plays on it”. I laughed and went back to my coffee. But the parents commented pointedly several times in the space of the half hour I was there, when the toddler kept coming back to stare at me, or stand next to me, about how “he does love that sofa” and “you can’t play on it now, we know you want to, that lady isn’t going to move” aimed loudly in my direction, clearly hinting that I should move to accommodate him. (and no, they weren’t trying to distract or redirect him, I can tell the difference) I didn’t move. Again, annoyed that the assumption that someone else’s children, in my space, expecting me to accommodate them. Why should I as the adult, be the one in the wrong because I don’t want to move so a child can claim “their space”, when I was there first, paid for my coffee, and haven’t signed up to be passive aggressively moaned at by parents who can’t see that their child’s desires and wants don’t need to be foisted on other people.
Other people’s kids, in fact even my own, do not need to be pandered to and accommodated and adored by everyone else. Your kids are cute, they are funny, they are clever, they are yours and of course you think the sun shine’s out of them, I feel the same about my own, but I do not expect other adults to pander to and bow to needs of my children, and nor do I expect adults who are not with children to put up with my children.
If I am in a queue for a toilet and there is a desperate small child who really needs to go, I will let them go in front of me. If there is a small child wobbling dangerously whilst on public transport, I will give them my seat. If a mum is dealing with a child having a meltdown, I will try not to judge, and if I can, I may offer to help, or at least offer sympathy, if a baby is crying and it’s mum looks like she needs just five minutes to go pee or drink her coffee, I will offer to help (this happens at work) if a child is lost or being hurt I will intervene. Sometimes children are loud, or play up, that’s life, but I do not expect to be put in a position where your child’s needs and wants are played onto me, where you think I should just let them climb all over me, knock my coffee over, that I should give up my seat so they can play, that if they are sitting next to me on the bus and keep kicking me, and you don’t ask them to stop, I will ask them myself.
Basically what I am saying is that kids are part of life, and I love that, but you thinking that everyone else wants to be exposed to your child’s foibles and charms is not. No, I am not going to give up my seat in the cafe because you think your child’s desire to play on it should be accomodated, no I am not going to be amused when you let your kids run rampage on a train and knocks coffee into me, and climbs all over the one nice handbag I own. I am an adult who loves children but also doesn’t want to have to deal with yours when you either don’t want to, or don’t realise that they aren’t actually being that cute or charming, or are behaving in a way that needs a life lesson.
I don’t think I am intolerant, I don’t think I am unreasonable. As I said at the start of this post, I work with and love kids, but I also think that society has allowed us to get to a point where children don’t have boundaries or behavior expectations and the adults in their lives don’t realise or don’t care that other people around them don’t want to have to deal with that. My kids can be loud, annoying, demanding, downright nuisances sometimes, and they may want things or expect things to happen and the world to accommodate that. Sometimes that’s reasonable, and sometimes they don’t get what they want or to behave in a certain way, because whilst I do think the sun shines out of them, and I would die for them, I don’t expect the rest of the world to feel that way about them. Respect my kids, yes, don’t mistreat my kids, absolutely, but I don’t expect you to pander to or put up with my kids or tolerate them if they are basically being annoying and I look on adoringly, blind to the fact that my child is annoying you. What a parent might think cute and isn’t always cute and endearing to someone else.
Basically, your kid is cute, but no, I am not giving up my seat and I want to enjoy my child free hour in peace and whilst I am a reasonable human being, and a parent, I don’t think your kid is cute enough that they can climb all over my handbag and spill my coffee…
And now I want to hear your comments. I am sure they will be interesting….