Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Kid Hating: A Popular Sport

While some talking heads lament a child-centric society, evidence strongly suggests the opposite is true. Just try carrying a purse and a four-month-old baby down the isle of an airplane toward the plebe class and you'd know what I mean. The normally Godless heathens shut their eyes reverently and silently mouth the words, "Please, God, don't let her sit next to me, please God don't let her sit next to me." If they close their eyes long enough, see, maybe I'm not really there.

My kids travel like pros. They are quiet and well-behaved. I water, feed and toilet them before boarding. They are instructed in no uncertain terms to refrain from kicking the seat in front of them. When my daughter inadvertantly bumped the seat in front of her to get her headphones, the woman in front of her gave her husband a knowing glance, "See, I told you they were miscreants." And then she settled into a smug slumber. My urge to bump her chair for the rest of the flight was stopped only by the infant on my lap.

People pay lip-service to liking kids, but really hate them, not so deep down. Restaurants are made so inhospitable to children and families it is laughable. The few 3-star restaurants around here (no 5-stars, but boy do they take themselves seriously) don't even have changing stations. Here's the message: children do not belong in this establishment even if their father is Midas, himself. A mother with a nursing infant surely would not want to take a plane trip, eat a good meal or otherwise enjoy something adult-centered. Why no! She must be punished for being obviously woman and stay locked in her domesticity until the child is school-aged or otherwise properly incarcerated.

And yet, I understand the other side. Two rows ahead of me coming back from Chicago was a family of three thoroughly rotten girls. The youngest, a two-year-old, stared the entire flight over her chair at the charitable people in front of me. Her stupid mother sat next to her oblivious and probably relieved not to be dealing with her little cherub.

While I love my children, I don't expect anyone else to admire their obvious charms. I also don't give a baboon's red behind about anyone elses' kids either. Please just sit still, be still and make some attempt at civility.

My experience has been that good kids are the majority, not the minority. Rarely you'll have the temper-tantruming toddler who is over-tired and over-wrought. He is so loud and nerve-fraying that he drowns out all the sweet little voices and happy attitudes of his tiny peers. In fact, I'd say that the ratio of irritating children roughly equates the ratio of irritating adults, the common trait being that they all believe they are the center of the universe.

All people, including (this is shocking) children, have bad days. But the complete avoidance of discipline nor moderate encouragement of decent behavior gives parents who do try and children who are troupers bad names.

Back to the other side now, a little sense of humor, world-perspective and patience wouldn't hurt superior jet-setters (some of whom must have terrible gastro-intestinal distress or bladder insufficiency, so often do they bumble to the bathroom). Do all you sophisticates forget that you were once a snotty little kid? Or did you find that stage of your life so contemptable that you feel the need to take out your hostility on the rest of the ankle-biting world?

Child-friendly facilities would be nice. Child-friendly people would be better. It would be nice for a mom travelling with kids to get at least a little break. Parenting is hard work. Travelling is challenging in the best of circumstances for all ages. A little slack would be nice.
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