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

  1. SLM

    This is the best article I have ever read on Scarry Mommy! You made all your arguments beautifully!! Thank you so much for sharing this!

  2. Monica

    While I can definitely see where you are coming from you forget that people without children are just as entitled as you are. You chose your life and they chose theirs and no one is right or wrong. I love kids, work with them and totally understand that society has children BUT that does not mean that I should just buck up and put headphones on when a screaming child is on an airplane or kicking my seat for 3 hours or running around acting like a monster in a restaurant. Yes, you paid for 6 seats, great. I paid for my 1 with my hard earned money so why does my experience mean less than yours? Its attitudes like that which lead people who don’t have kids to be so grumpy and annoyed with other peoples children. Perhaps instead of people thinking that they have kids and everyone should just get over they should try to make sure their kids aren’t disruptive (which I am glad to see you do, not everyone does) and realize that while your child isn’t an inconvenience to you they are still are to other people. That is life.

  3. Sandra

    That’s too bad your neighbor said you all should be quiet. Our family of six moved to an older neighborhood with quite a few original owners. They have been welcoming and told us they love seeing kids again on our street. I bet you will win them over! 😊

  4. Valerie

    I am retired and my husband and I live in a great neighborhood. One of the joys of the neighborhood are the sounds of children playing and laughing all around. To us, the sounds of children playing are some of the sweetest sounds in our experience. We don’t have children ourselves, but love them all the more! Thanks for this article! I, for one, would welcome your family into our neighborhood with open arms!

  5. Dreaming of the DINK life

    Actually, I am entitled to my childfree life, thanks. That’s why 55+ communities exist. Just sucks I have to wait that long to get into one!

  6. Limey

    Honestly, I don’t have kids. I don’t want kids. I work with kids with disabilities and I know a lot more about unexpected noises and losing them the second you turn your back than the average adult. There’s only so much I can do on some days when I have particular students in classes with mainstream kids and my kid has a meltdown.

    What I’ve learned over time is not to react to the child’s behavior but to how their parent/guardian/caretaker/teacher handles it.

    So if your infant is screaming on the plane, I’m looking at YOU for subjecting your infant to a painful and possibly frightening experience as well as for whether you try to calm them or just let them scream.

    And if you bring your toddler to a bar where I am to drink and have fun? I’m looking at you for not choosing a family-friendly location when you couldn’t get a babysitter.

    And when your child is running through a store or restaurant and making a mess? You guessed it. I’m looking at YOU. To see if you make your child quiet down and clean up and possibly apologize.

  7. vacationsforcouplesonly

    As some other people have said, you can have your opinions, but too many parents act as if they entitled because they have children. They let kids scream and do nothing about it in restaurants, on planes, even movie theaters, live shows, you name it. If people give those with children worried or concerned looks, and make comments moms don’t like, it’s because they’ve had bad experiences with people bringing kids to places that aren’t kid friendly and ruining the experience.

  8. Really.Com

    I think the point that we all share this planet is fair. However, I think that along the way the aspect of respect may have been forgotten. Kids are a part of human life on this planet – yes. But that does not mean they need to be THE biggest PART or the LOUDEST part or the part in the centre…. Feel free to have as many kids you want (if you feel that this is right for you and the planet etc), but do raise them to respect others. The best way of teaching them that is probably by you showing them how to respect others who may have a different opinion, or a different need to yours…

  9. Amber

    People will forever be bothered by the nuisance of Kids being Kids. Look at the comments above! If your child isn’t well trained and quiet then you’re not doing your job as a parent correctly.
    I’m so over it. I want to flip off every non parent who just knows exactly how to raise a perfect child. *insert dramatic eye roll*

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  11. Maggie

    Really great article but I don’t think that your parenting is the problem.. unfortunately it’s the parents who let their kids run amuck and don’t care… it happens all the time.. I think it’s utterly ridiculous for my nice time to be ruined because a parent would rather be on their phone then discipline their child… sorry not sorry … love the kids but I hate the parents… again to be clear I get that kids will be kids, but parents should know better.. people are not doing their children any favors by not disciplining them…

  12. Camille Leblond

    No one comes to the world as an adult. Everyone of you who advocates about your right to a child-free life, remember that the rest of the world had to tolerate YOU as a child. And no matter how perfect and quiet and discreet you think you were, you weren’t. Because babies cry (you did!), toddlers throw tantrums (you did too), kids laugh and run (yep, that too). Just as you wouldn’t ask an elderly person to get younger and move faster already, don’t expect children to behave like fully normalized adults. It takes time. It took you time. It will take every child time.
    You have a right not to be parents. You don’t have a right to living in a world with no children. That world would only last one generation anyway.

  13. Ursula

    Woo hoo!! I loooved reading this article. I have 5 and not a single apology to make for having them. God has blessed us with them and yep we are happy!

  14. Ellie

    When we moved to a new neighbourhood where the majority of people have grown up kids, they commented how amazing it is to hear children’s laughter and see them play. I think the majority of people love having children around or at least not bothered by them but there are some who are bothered by the noise because they are either tired or simply can’t handle high pitched sounds.

  15. Jenni

    Thank you! This is exactly why I love to read your posts. I know I fail as a parent, probably a lot, but who doesn’t? If we can’t lift each other up when we need it, what is the point? Help that mom push the baby in the stroller when she’s also trying to wrangle a 3 year old having a tantrum. Tell her you’ve been there too. Kids are awesome. They are our future. They’re messy, and loud, and crazy, and beautiful. Give them time to be kids. I don’t see adults (who are sober) sucking on a pacifier or screaming on a plane. How can we expect our children to know how to eat at a restaurant if we never take them there?! It might be rough the first 10 times. They figure it out when given time, good examples, and love.

  16. Melinda Mustered

    Some of us older folk s need to be reminded that our parenting skills were not as perfect as we remember or claim and neither were our children.

  17. Kelsi Woodburn

    I have a mixed emotional response as I process this post. I am one of those that raised a couple of step sons (they are adults now) but had none of my own. I work with parents and kids in my line of work and have a lot of compassion for the struggle that parenting can be sometimes. Children are children and I don’t expect them to reason and understand as an adult does. I equally have compassion for the kids that are glared at from across the restaurant as the “bad kid” when it is not really their fault in most cases. I will admit that when my husband and I go out for dinner, I will often choose a restaurant that I’m hoping parents are wise enough not to take their children to. It is not because I don’t like kids but because the parenting lifestyle and tolerance level is much different then a non parent’s lifestyle and tolerance. That kid kicking the back of the seat in the plane or the kid running around in the restaurant have parents that eventually intervene or tell them to stop 12 times but usually well after my tolerance level is exceeded because I have a non parent tolerance level. I do not expect parents to tip toe around me because we all do share this world and I expect kids to be a part of that. I do appreciate when parents are cognizant of the fact that they have a higher threshold for having their kids interrupt our conversation for the 15th time or that while they may be used to their kids running around them all the time and will stop them after only 5 minutes of running a muck in public, my non-parenting-sharing-this-world tolerance level was up about 3 1/2 minutes ago or after the 2nd interruption because I don’t live this on a daily basis. Instead of a polarization and us vs. them mentality, let’s just work to be mindful of the difference in tolerance levels and work to meet somewhere in the middle.

  18. Talia

    I did enjoy reading this post. I just have to add that most people I know have 3 kids and some up to 5 kids. I’ve never once mentioned to them that I think that’s a lot or when are they thinking to stop. Yet- all these people never have a problem telling me their opinion on me not wanting to have children. I just think that it needs to go both ways. I’ve even been told that I’ll be alone and that they will have their kids to take care of them when they are older. Everyone should know their place.

  19. kansasbloom

    Fourth kid is always feral….. mines 8. The rest are soon to be 11. 13. And the only boy- soon to be 16 I’ve gotten to the point that I’m just going to look shocked and whisper “you see them too” when people ask if they’re all mine Great post by the way!

  20. simpsonmom

    I really enjoyed this article. I would say to the people that are getting upset about children acting like children – I too remember the many years I chose to live a child free lifestyle. My husband and I are considered ‘older’ parents – neither of us wanted children when we were younger and at times would become annoyed at the noise or behavior of children when we were out enjoying our child free life. At the time I just didn’t understand. Having 2 young children, whom we have traveled the world with, eaten in restaurants with etc etc – I now understand that no matter what you do/say at times your children will act inappropriately in public places – in other words they will act like the children they are. Perhaps the real problem is child free people not understanding… I know I didn’t understand. I just think we all need a bit more compassion towards other people, children included. And on a side note: if we don’t include our children out there in the real world, how will they learn to handle real world experiences? There are bound to be a few bumps in the road to maturity – I know quite a few adults that haven’t managed it yet.

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