My kids are not an inconvenience (for you)

We just moved into a new neighborhood and I met an elderly woman a couple blocks down the street. She looked at me in shock (almost horror) when I told her that we have four kids and she kept saying, “Four? Four??” Then she looked at me square in the eyes. “I guess that will be okay,” she said, “as long as they are quiet.” She was dead serious.

I laughed like it was a joke (because that’s what I do when I feel awkward).

I took the kids and we continued down the street feeling kid-shamed.

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I think I understand her perspective. This is her street and she’s probably lived on it upwards of fifty years. It would be hard to deal with change and disruption of her normal. It probably feels like the invasion of the Brady Bunch.

However, I often feel like we bother people by being us. Not necessarily by anything we do, but just the idea of what we “might do”. When we’d wait our turn for our passports and tickets to be checked at the airport, we’d hear heavy sighs behind us like, gawd are you kidding me. I felt like turning around and saying, “FYI sir, we paid for six tickets, you paid for one, so we have every right to be here.”

Kids are a normal part of society; it’s always been that way. You are not actually entitled to a child-free life. Sorry, not sorry. You don’t have to have them yourself, and you can go to as many adult-only things as possible, but you don’t get to expect that we are going to keep kids out of your way in the world we all share: parks, sidewalks, grocery stores, restaurants (yes, I take my kids to restaurants and I won’t apologize), the beach, airplanes…etc.

We teach our kids to respect people and to not act like wild animals (except the four-year-old, she’s kind of a loose cannon). We teach them to give up their seats on a train for an elderly person and to look someone in the eyes when they shake their hand. We teach them not to wrestle or yell in inappropriate places and to say please and thank you. They aren’t perfect at it by any means, but they’re pretty damn good. Outside of that, I will not apologize for having kids, and I won’t apologize for my kids being…kids.

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I won’t apologize for them laughing loudly while they ride bikes in the cul de sac. I tell them not to yell, but I don’t feel bad when an occasional “whoop” slips their lips. They are kids. Kids are a normal part of life.

When we asked for a rental application for a certain house, the property manager replied with a simple one line e-mail, “Sorry this house is too small for your family.” It was a three bedroom, which is the size of home we’ve always lived in. No questions, no asking if we were sure it would work for us. It was a clear “blow off” from someone who didn’t want to be inconvenienced by children. (If you’re ever in that situation, know your rights).

These “annoying kids” are the future.

A baby in an airplane who is screaming is not “annoying you” and making your flight terrible, they are likely in a lot of pain. You can put on your headphones and crank the music. I guarantee this scenario is a lot worse for the baby and for the parents than it is for you.

I’m not trying to start an argument here (although I might anyway), and I’m not even trying to villainize anyone for being annoyed at my kids…hell, I get annoyed at them too we should have a glass of wine and commiserate together. But actually…buck up buttercup.

Kids are a part of life…period.

In my opinion, they bring a lot of sunshine and joy to the world. I know I like mine.

We visited a church recently where all the generations were represented. We were welcomed like family, the kids even received several handshakes and someone went to find them crayons.

I loved it.

We need each other.

We need the grandmas and the grandpas and we need the babies and the obnoxious four year olds and everyone in between…
like it or not.

***

Jess is mama to Malachi (10), Scout (8), Oaklee (6), and Haven (4). She writes about the joy and the craziness of kid-raising here at wonderoak.com. Her and her husband Graham are currently moving across the country with their crew. You can follow here, Facebook, and Instagram.

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119 thoughts on “My kids are not an inconvenience (for you)

  1. Hil D (@Raisingfairies)

    Thoroughly enjoyed this 🙂 I totally get your point, yes I see people getting upset about a child being naughty and their parents allowing it, but for the majority, no one is going to let their kid act like that. In this day with autism awareness and behavioral issues, we should know how to sympathize and maybe look the other way if someone is having a bad day and their parents are trying to deal with them. I have hauled my yelling three year old out of the library for screaming when he doesn’t get his way, but I will not shush him repeatedly for laughing or trying to read me a book. Normal child noises should not be an inconvenience to anyone!

  2. wonderoak

    What part of this made you think that I think it’s okay to let my kids run wild? I said “I don’t let my kids act like wild animals”. I’m pretty sure I’m not the one with an entitlement problem.

  3. Grams Jack

    You make me laugh, maybe cry a wee bit, and most definitely concur with everything you said! I have 7 children who are parents now themselves, I remember going to the grocery store and having people tell me to “get a television”, I still haven’t, and now have 19 lovely, adorable, most of them taller than me, grandchildren. What an adventure, keep up the good work lovely lady.

  4. Elizabeth

    I have 4 children as well. I have felt the exact same way. My kids are good kids, but they make noise, messes, laughter, joy, tears…all of it. They are a blessing in my life and in the life of those willing to get to know them. Thank you for this story.

  5. Marsgirl

    THANK YOU for this. Really needed it after my little munchkin (2.5 yrs) screamed his head off on the bus and I’m struggling with the pram with his 3 month old sister. And still: No I won’t stop using public transport because I’m in somebody’s way and if you see a parent struggle give them a hand instead if a dirty look. Many people have helped me, many ither parent have given supportive („I know it all“) looks and I grateful for that as much as I’m grateful for such articles. 😉

  6. hazards

    PEOPLE are often very patient, very kind and very helpful to single mums with ‘munchkins’, but don’t expect, and you certainly can’t DEMAND that others come to your aid! Be grateful when they do, but generally anticipate that others will expect You To take charge of your kiddies and to take full responsibility.

  7. Nancy Bay

    You can be my neighbor anytime,,,kids are the greatest gift in the world, and just wait till you have grands!,! It may be a long way off, but they truly are the icing on the cake, it is difficult to believe you coulld have enough love to go around. Just love them, teach them how to love and be respectful and thank God daily for them. And may God Bless you.

  8. Oliva H

    My husband and I don’t go to regular movie theaters anymore. We go to Alamo Drafthouse because they don’t allow children under 6 in their theaters. Why do we only go there? Because the last time we went to a “regular” movie theater, a family walked in to see Black Panther. And when I say family, it was two adults and four children. Two of the kids were in the age rage to enjoy the movie. The other two were not. One was a toddler who played in the aisle next to me. The other was a baby who clearly didn’t appreciate the noise from the movie and cried off for the duration. I honestly felt like I was watching a movie in that family’s living room. And it was a living room I spent $30 to be at. I LOVE hearing the neighbor kids play. It reminds me of my own childhood. I honestly don’t even mind babies who cry on airplanes. I know what it is to be terrified of flying. Ever time I fly, I’m screaming a little bit on the inside too. What I can’t stand are parents who don’t know what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate behavior in public. It’s not okay to treat a movie theater like your living room. It’s not okay to bring a child to a nice restaurant and let them scream for an hour. Those experiences are expensive and may be the only time the other adults in the room have to relax.It’s not the children. It’s the parents. The ones who don’t know the boundaries of what’s appropriate and what’s not. And who aren’t teaching their children what’s appropriate and what’s not. And honestly, I know that most parents are great and are raising wonderful kids. It’s the few bad apples that sour our perceptions of the rest of you. And sadly, the number of bad apples seems to grow every year.

  9. Magic Cat

    I am childfree and have no problem with well behaved kids out in public or on airplanes. The problem is there are tons of places where kids absolutely do NOT belone, i.e. R rated movies at the late showing, fine dining restaurants, bars and breweries. I see too many entitled parents bringing poorly disciplined kids to those very inappropriate settings, and those parents do need a reminder that going to a bar or late night adult movie is a privilege. If they can’t afford a babysitter and the cost to go out, they don’t deserve both.

  10. Dave

    You shouldn’t be treated rudely for having kids. However, if your kid is screaming on a flight they are an inconvenience. Signed, someone who gets migraines.

  11. Sam

    Hi. About the rental thing, in my city occupancy (for rental purposes) legally can not exceed 1 more than the number of bedrooms. Number of bedrooms: 3, max legal occupancy: 4. So that landlord might not legally be allowed to rent to your family of 6.

  12. wonderoak

    Yes, you’re right getting a migraines from a screaming kid would be terrible. I think it’s the idea that we should never be bothered with kids or their noises is the problem.

  13. wonderoak

    You’ve really experienced little kids in R rated movies? I agree, except we love taking our kids to Breweries. They’re loud and fun for the kids too.

  14. Amanda

    I loved the article. I think it’s unfortunate that people have lost the sense of what it means to live in a true society. And yes, living in society with other people means that our experiences out in public are not always going to be perfectly crafted to our individual enjoyment and tastes. People are always so quick to respond to these types of articles about kids in public with their horror stories of kids behaving badly. Well guess what, bad behavior is unfortunately not limited to kids and I find it a lot less easy to overlook when it’s adults who should know better behaving badly and ruining my enjoyment of public places. I’ve been to Alamo Drafthouse on a rare date night away from my kids, only to have my movie experience frankly ruined by a fully grown woman gasping loudly and making loud comments literally every 5 minutes or less throughout the movie. I’ve been at nice, expensive restaurants and had to listen to a table full of entitled adults being loud, obnoxious, and making incessant rude comments about the waitstaff, the food, and others around them. I’ve been on airplanes and seated next to drunk men who are again loud, obnoxious, and bother me way more than any crying child would. Yes, sometimes people suck. That’s not limited to parents/children and I’m tired of this notion that simply eliminating all parents and children would create a peaceful paradise because it’s just not true.

  15. hazards

    My neighbours’ children are delightful. I don’t mind their excited squeals nor their upset cries. BUT often poor behaviour is a reflection of parent problems not the children’s. I have noticed that in instances of anti social behaviour in many children, it often seems that the kids are actually unconsciously acting out what are really the mums and dads repressed anger and obstreporousness! When parents over-react to justified criticism of their little darlings, its often their own selfish egos that are dented —& has little to do with reasonable defence of their children’s poor behaviour in public.

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