Raise your hand if you sort of despised kids before having one of your own. Oh, please. You can admit it. I certainly did. I didn’t despise individual kids—it was more like I despised them as a concept. I saw children as selfish little aliens who were stealing away my drinking buddies, overrunning the city’s best restaurants, and committing heinous airplane crimes. Then I had children, which is when I discovered a shocking truth: Children weren’t the problem, I was the problem. My drinking buddies weren’t deserting me... they were sick of drinking all the time. Ninety percent of children are well-behaved in restaurants, but half the fun of dining out is constantly undermining the experience. And people who complain about babies on airplanes? We now know they’re the ones who should be wearing diapers.
That’s why I have a certain amount of empathy toward people who shit-talk parents—because I’ve been there. But here’s the thing: Somebody should’ve told me to shut my big, stupid mouth, because I was wrong.
I will accept a certain amount of sneers and accusations that I’m helping murder our overpopulated planet—but I’m done taking too much guff. Like you, I’m a pretty decent parent who works hard to teach my children manners and instill in them empathy for others so they won’t grow up to be insolent, children-hating jerks.
For example, while ordering food for my kids at a restaurant recently, I made what I thought was an entirely reasonable request: Please leave off the kale salad—they won’t eat it, and it’ll just go to waste. The obviously childless waitperson responded, “Well, why don’t you force them to eat it?”
I’ll admit it: I almost lost my damn mind.
I’ll spare you the details, but I politely informed her that, while small and occasionally rude, children are still human beings. And in 2015, we don’t FORCE other humans to do anything—because there’s a word for that, and that word is ASSAULT.
Should I have just ignored her ignorance? Nope. Not anymore. Because someone should’ve politely told me I was being an oblivious, judgmental child-hater back when I was an oblivious, judgmental child-hater. I’ve decided this particular cycle of stupidity is going stop right here, with me.
I’m not endorsing picking fights with people—because who has the time, right? I just want to remind you that, despite what the amateur Judge Judys of this world may say, you’re not a second-class citizen for being a parent. And you don’t have to apologize all the time for your kid acting like a kid. Their behavior is not necessarily a reflection of your parenting skills—sometimes kids just act the fool. And if someone tries to judge you for the actions of your children, then maybe politely remind them that unless they actually are Judge Judy, they can back the [your expletive of choice] off.
Not only are you doing what you’re genetically wired to do, you’re also working your ass off to build a human who will actually make a positive difference in this world. It’s an incredibly important job, and something to be proud of. So stand up. Be proud of yourself. And be the person you want your kid to grow up to be. (Without being a jerk about it, right? Right.)