Every now and then someone will breathlessly say to me “I hate kids but I just adore Eddie!” I watch them smugly wait for me to fall over myself with gratitude as if this is some kind of compliment to me and my son.
It’s not a compliment. I’m not sure how I am meant to respond to it either. Ummm I’m glad you find my son aesthetically pleasing? I’m glad the stories about the cute things he does entertain you? I’m pleased that he has performed in such a way in front of you that you don’t hate him just because he’s a child? I mean really. The only thing you do when you say shit like that to me (or rant on Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr about how you hate kids) is make me put you on a list of people who I never want my kids to be around.
Saying you hate kids is hateful. It’s not edgy. It’s not cool. And if I ever, ever, ever made you think I’m “one of you” then my God I lost something in translation.
Too often I see people who think it’s cool to joke about “breeders” and how “gross” kids are. They just hate kids! But not yours…of course. I will never understand this horrible attitude. But I’m always especially surprised when I hear these comments from activists, and those in social justice circles, and from people who consider themselves feminists or allies. Because – you do know that nothing keeps women more isolated than feeling like they can never take their children anywhere right? And as a social group children are abused in huge numbers. They’re also silenced by those who are meant to protect them (from parents to politicians) and also by the fact that under a certain age they can’t talk at all or people think it’s cute to pretend not to understand what they’re saying. They’re also excluded from so many places already. And I mean – there are literally people who march in the street for the right to physically hit them. But umm you’re the oppressed one because you can’t enjoy your long black because a child is existing in your presence?
Anyway, this blog started as a rant about how grossed out I am by people who bitch and moan about children being in public spaces but then I thought – why give them more airtime?
So instead I’m going to go positive (but being on brand I’m also going to be a bit snarky) and thank some people for loving children in small ways. Because loving kids in public spaces means loving their parents. Loving women who are mostly the primary caregivers of most children. And generally just making the world a better fucking place for everyone.
So the biggie – thanks for not being an asshole in a cafe or restaurant! Thank YOU! Yes, you – that waiter who is run off her feet but still let’s my son practice his language by letting him order his own smoothie. You’re a fucking awesome person. Thank you to the dude at the table next to us who says ‘what a cool fire engine!’ to my son. Thanks for acknowledging his existence! You made him super happy because he fucking loves his fire engine. Thanks to the couple who mouth “it’s OK” and smile when I apologise for my little one crying. I don’t know why he’s crying and he’ll stop soon. So thanks for not making me feel awful about it when I’m trying everything I can to calm him down. Thanks to the clearly hungover group of students who smile and high five my son when he runs over to them to introduce himself. I’m sorry – he’s extroverted and you’re a big group of loud people and he loves big groups of loud people. Thanks to everyone who doesn’t scowl at us when we walk in and loudly claim “here we go. Why are there so many kids around here?” or laugh and say “ughhh breeders” as if I can’t hear them. While you click your fingers at waiters and then make them wait while you take photos of your eggs and tweet “I so hate kids #eggs” and leave all your messy dishes on the table in a pile and put cigarette butts out on your toast and sit for hours at your table instead of letting someone else use it and leave your newspapers in a pile on your food – I’ll smile at the waiter for you and we will comment about how you’re a bunch of turds.
Thanks for not being a jerk on flights. How much do flights suck? Isn’t it weird how parents also need to fly with their children? It’s like so arrogant for parents to want to fly with their kids. It’s almost like they want to see family or have a holiday like normal people do. Thanks for not audibly groaning when I sit next to you with my two kids. Thanks for playing peekaboo with my toddler through the seats while I breastfeed. I have been dreading this flight and your kindness makes me want to cry. Thanks for showing my son photos of your cat on your phone. He loves cats! You’re a fucking awesome person! Thanks so much for helping me with my bag. My back hurts so much and I am trying not to hold anyone up because I don’t want to be the reason why someone goes on Facebook and says kids are awful on flights. Thank you for not sighing and loudly complaining about my crying baby. I’m really overwhelmed right now. I wish I hadn’t booked a night flight but it was the cheapest option and I thought he’d sleep. I’m scared he’s in pain. I can see you rolling your eyes and grabbing your phone ready to tell everyone how useless I am – how useless all mothers who dare to travel with kids are. I’ve had a huge week and I just want to get to my dad’s place and have a bit of a break because I’m so exhausted. I’m sorry we’re both existing on the same flight as you. I am sure you’re tired too but being nasty probably won’t miraculously cure that? Thank you to the person in the aisle next to us for saying “It’s OK – my baby always cried on planes” or for gently patting my shoulder through the seat gap and saying “Not long to go”. You’re awesome. Your small kindness makes a massive difference.
Thanks for letting me be with my children in a public place. Thanks for not being an asshole about my buggy. I know it’s massive. I hate it. It’s like a monster truck – but this is the model that was given to us and it works because I have to walk everywhere so I need something sturdy. I know I am taking up space. I know I just knocked something over but I’ve picked it up and I need to get this medication and I can’t leave the buggy outside the chemist because it might get stolen. I am sorry for taking a buggy on a bus – but I can’t fold it down when I am carrying a weeks old baby. Thank you for helping me on and off. I get so embarrassed trying to do it on my own when I’m not really strong enough. Thanks for making room for me. Thanks for smiling instead of growling at me. I can’t afford two cars and my son loves his buggy. If you look into it he’s waving at you!
Thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt that I’m not intentionally trying to piss you off by being near you with a child. Thanks for treating my son like a human being. He’s a great little person. All kids are. They have ups and downs just like anybody else. They feel overwhelmed easily and sometimes it’s hard to make them do what you want them to do because they’re people! Thanks for not getting angry when a child cries. I cried in a pie shop the other day and I’m an adult. If I’m allowed to without being scowled at by other adults surely a child is allowed to?
It’s a pretty radical act to just not join in when people start bitching about kids. To call them on it and say – hey, why don’t you help a mama out instead of bagging her? Why not smile at a kid – that might stop them crying! It’s easy to say “yeah, kids are the WORST” because like all human beings kids can be annoying. Believe me, parents know this better than anyone. But do the test – would you feel comfortable saying you hate women? Because you went to a shop and a woman was crying and it irritated you? Nah. Probs not aye?
Anyway, in short – thank you. Thanks for recognising a child’s right to be in a public place. Thanks for recognising that parents aren’t evil breeders out to destroy your #eggs and #longblack.