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Monday, March 21, 2016

Friends with kids

Ok, so I know how what I'm about to say is going to sound mean. And some of you who are parents might disagree with me wholeheartedly, but this is a pet peeve of mine and I feel like talking about it today. So here goes...

What is it with people who have kids and then all of a sudden (and for years afterward) the whole wide world is supposed to revolve around their precious little snowflake?  And they just expect everyone to be as enamored of their offspring as they are, and to overlook any inconvenience they cause. I like kids, I really do, but I also have the old fashioned (and very much out of vogue) opinion that there should be some limits on how much children should be seen and heard when out in society.
I don't like having children and their behavior forced on me in certain situations.

Here's a recent example. Last week an old friend of mine and Marla's was in the area. She moved several states away a few years ago but occasionally visits her in-laws who still live in South Carolina. The three of us hadn't seen each other for two years. We made plans to meet her in a town halfway between us and her in-law's house to have lunch, and I also suggested that after we caught up at lunch we ought to go visit a museum or something, and just spend the afternoon together. Well.

She showed up with her husband and two small children.

I couldn't believe it. There was no reason whatsoever to bring them. The kids (aged 2 and 5) were rowdy, and had to be minded the whole time. There were stinky diapers to be changed (dad refused to take the toddler boy to the mens room to change him so our friend had to go) and messy finger food with ketchup ending up everywhere, and a kindergartener yelling "BUTTCRACK!" about 5 dozen times because it's her new favorite word, and a couple of mini tantrums to quiet....etc etc....you get the idea.

Not only was an adult conversation between the three of us impossible, what with the crazy kids and the husband sitting nearby, but I'm not sure our friend would have talked about anything but her kids even if she had come alone. It's like there's nothing else at all going on in her life. She's a stay at home mom, and I get that she doesn't have a job, but you'd think she would have a hobby or two outside of her children. But nope. Everything, and I do mean everything, is about them. I feel certain that she actually thought we'd want to see her kids. And while I have nothing against them, or her husband, Marla and I wanted to see her. Not her family. And we certainly didn't want to watch her struggle to keep everyone fed and clean and occupied for an hour. Because that's all the visit lasted--just long enough for lunch. We left immediately afterwards, having had enough.

I should also add that I thought it was a bit insensitive of our friend, bringing her little children and making them the center of attention when Marla just lost her baby 6 weeks ago. I'm sure it never occurred to her that it might touch a sore spot, but it should have.

Our friend is a good person, and I understand she's trying her best to be a great mom. But she's not doing her children any favors by treating them like the most special wonderful beings that ever walked the planet! And I see that same behavior everywhere--social events where kids shouldn't even be to begin with and public places where the kids are allowed to act out and disturb others. When I was the age of my friend's daughter (almost 6) I would not have expected to go to lunch with my mom and her friends to begin with, and if I had, I would have known to sit quietly and not make a spectacle of myself. By today's standards, my mom was fairly harsh with me and was quick to correct me, but I think I turned out better for it in the long run.

So, friends with kids can be a real drag. That's my Monday afternoon rant!


12 comments:

  1. And a damned good rant it was too Jennifer! Can you hear the applause from The Isle of Man? When I was a kid growing up in northern England, children were simply not allowed in pubs. They were the sanctuaries of adults. Nowadays kids are creeping into most of our pubs and I hate it when they are making a din, crying and laughing. That kind of stuff belongs in the home or the playgroup - not where I am eating, drinking or reading my newspaper. Your friend was very insensitive bringing her little brats when Marla is still grieving over the tragic death of her baby.

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    1. Kids in pubs. How utterly ridiculous. I can see how that would ruin the experience.

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  2. Long gone are the days of kids must be "seen and not heard". I remember a severe stare, from either my mum or dad, was enough to let me know I was in for big trouble. Greetings Maria x

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    1. My mother had a look that would freeze hell over. That's usually all it took to bring me in line!

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  3. Good for you Jennifer ! You are so right - your friend seems to have made her children the centre of her existence, with no thoughts for anything else. Alas, it's the same this side of the pond too - children everywhere in what used to be solely "adult" venues. Nothing worse than trying to have a quiet chat or a relaxing meal with screaming, badly behaved children around. How insensitive, too, when Marla has just lost her baby.

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    1. I'm not sure what this woman will do when her kids inevitably grow up and leave. Her life is going to be very empty if she continues on the way she's going.

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  4. I am joining Yorkshire Pudding in his applause. Kids should certainly be allowed to have happy, wholesome childhoods with plenty of time to be just kids - noisy, playful, throwing a tantrum or two to test their limits. But not at a time and place where adults want to spend time with other adults, or enjoy some peace and quiet, without constant interruptions.

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  5. We are in complete agreement. Children should be trained or at least leashed. The earlier manners are taught the better. Her husband should have taken care of the kids while his wife had some time with her friends.

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  6. I'm glad my post didn't stir any hard feelings. Librarian, I completely agree that kids need ample opportunity to just be kids. In a setting where it's appropriate I'm not bothered by children at all. I just wish it was a less accepted thing for kids to be dragged along into what used to be adults only time. And the constant FOCUS on kids is irritating. When I was young interrupting adult conversation (unless it was an emergency, of course) was strictly discouraged. And especially if the adults were taking care if any kind of business, like talking to a clerk or tradesperson.

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  7. I so agree with everything you said. I grew up in a loving home but we were taught manners and knew when to be quiet. Was it hard ? yes but when my parents said sit and be quiet till they were finished, we did. Plus going out to eat was a treat and even if it was a Bob's Big Boy we were quiet and minded our manners just like at home.
    Your friend should be proud of her children (OK not like they acted that day) but there is a time and place. Show some photos and then get on to the visit.

    cheers, parsnip

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  8. Personally I think children should be kept muzzled and on a leash until they're old enough to behave with decorum, never did me any harm Jennifer ;-)

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  9. Can you hear me applauding from New Zealand? I'm right with you, Jennifer.

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