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

  1. Taylor Hutchinson

    My favorite thing is when people tell you how much they don’t like kids, or how full their life is without them and how tragic your life is with them… And by favorite thing..I mean least favorite thing. 😑

  2. InkedShrink

    Well said! There’s a lot to be said for “big” families. They always seem to have so much life and personality. I guess that’s their problem if they can’t see it that way; but, I agree it can be a bit much when your catching the eye rolls or the backhanded compliments

  3. stomperdad

    YES! YES! YES! My brother-in-law and his wife have 4 kids. Like yours, they’re amazing and my two absolutely love going to play with them. And when the six of them get together noise and laughter fill their whole house. Do we bother others when we go out? Damn straight we do. But certainly not intentionally. We’re just being us. How they feel is not our problem. It’s theirs.

  4. Maggie H-G

    I feel ya on all of this. Yep yep yep! (Oh my gosh I think that just sounded like Duckie from Land Before Time, woops). Anyway, I think I catch myself giving random strangers excuses for them, too. So when my kids are being kids in public I have to mumble things like “he’s an extrovert!” or “this one’s got a lot of energy!” or “it’s been quite the day!” But they’re kids. Thanks for the post. Love your stuff.

  5. Yola

    So true! It seems that many grown ups forgot that they used to be kids too. And, when I go to the restaurant with my kids, I ask them to be respectful, quiet and not run all over the place … and even take them out of the restaurant if they don’t follow rules. But if just a presence of my kids bothers people… well, they will have to get over it. We all used to be kids.

  6. Karen

    Right on Jess!! Now add special needs kids to the mix and that same thing happens 100 fold. I have a huge amount of grace for anyone who is struggling at the store, or a restaurant, or on a plane with their kids…it is much worse for them than it is for us. We need to be reminded that kindness is much more powerful than condescension.

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  8. Nadia

    Oh yes – I would rather have a party for 10 kids than 5 adults. Kids love unconditionally and asks no more than what you are prepared to give. Adults on the other hand …. let’s just leave it there… so those who wants a quiet life, please buy a one way ticket to the moon of adulthood!!!!

  9. Nicole Pettis

    Thank you! I have felt this way for awhile. Not sure when children became such an inconvenience, but without them there would be no fun or laughter in this world.

  10. disorientedmom

    Preach on moms!!! I try not to let mine bother other people, but much like your four-year-old, mine is also a loose cannon. Yes, she freaks out in public sometimes. Yes, she cries really loudly. Yes, she’s got a smart-ass mouth on her. Keep on moving along people, nothing to see here and this doesn’t effect your life in one tiny way. Love your post!

  11. Joyce Amber-Messick

    we had 4 children i do not remember feeling like this perhaps i did not notice or the world was different it was a long time ago now they are 39, 50, 51, 52

  12. Keli

    Love this so much!!! I amlove also a mother of 4! Ages 9-4 and I just would not change it for anything!! I am learning to see my children as blessings from the Lord and really enjoying them for the people they are.
    Thank you for sharing this!!
    Our world is a better place because kids are in it. It would be so sad and boring without hearing the laughing of children and the crying babies!! Yes, it would be quiet but seriously you can only have so much quiet before you realize what you are missing!! Joy!! Enjoy your adventures with your children!!
    Blessings!!

  13. Corrina Mirren

    If only people could grow beyond viewing kids as ‘other people’s children’ and realise they are also ‘tomorrow’s doctors and chefs and police officers and scientists’. So many non-parents object to their taxes being used to educate ‘other people’s children’ but would they really like to have their medication dosage calculated by a nurse who didn’t learn basic maths? A world without kids is a world without a future. A society that doesn’t embrace kids is a inward-looking, ultimately selfish society with no ability to see beyond today. I am a mother of 5 kids, aged 18-29 and often felt as if we were an inconvenience to others.

  14. Jane

    “You are not actually entitled to a child-free life.”

    Uhhh actually, yes; I am entitled. Just like you think you’re entitled to disrupt other people’s lives because you chose to reproduce.

    You don’t like the childfree sense of entitlement and isn’t ironic that the childfree don’t like the sense of entitlement on display by so many parents?

    You don’t get to block aisles in the stores with your strollers because you had kids. You don’t get to go to nice restaurants and expect if your kids act up other paying customers won’t be annoyed and you surely don’t get to expect people on planes to bend over because your precious child is kicking the back of their seat for nine hours straight and you won’t do a thing about it.

    Oh and as a landlord, I don’t have to rent my pristine place to someone with kids. It is a childfree place and legally it is my right to keep it that way.

  15. Elizabeth A

    Love this! I’ve been thinking about this today when someone–I’m sure very well-meaning–told me to leave church cause my daughter was being too loud today. It is hard to feel like you are doing your very best job at parenting your specific child when somebody comes in and tells you you’re not doing a good job. And tells you to leave. Kids are going to make noise and be distracting and whatnot, but the alternative is not to not allow them into our world. And to expect kids to only be quiet and obedient is not what we truly want out of them as they turn into adults, so why is this only what we praise and expect in children? Thank you so much for validating my feelings!

  16. Karen

    Not only did I commit the crime of having 4 kids, but I also had only the boy kind. Yep 4. Boys. People look so sad for me. And stressed. And concerned. It’s mostly funny except when it isn’t. You are on point as always Jess!

  17. Jen Duke

    Love this. It seems like it happens the most to me on vacation, but I get comments about how I must be crazy for having five kids and what was I thinking? (All said not kidding and in a how-dare-I tone) All while my kids are sitting right there and I’d been applauding them for how well they were behaving.

  18. Crystal Schepp-Vavrinek

    LOVE IT! We have 6! It is my 4- boys, and his 2-boy & girl. Yes, that is 5 boys and 1 girl. No, you don’t need to feel sorry for our daughter, she knows how to take charge of all of her brothers and she is not the oldest! Yes, they are all ours! Yes, they all live with us! Yes, they all get along! Yes, they are all capable of behaving, most of the time. Trying find places that are accommodating to large families is difficult. You are often judged before they even meet you. The stares and comments from strangers are not always kind. The LOVE of a family this size is so worth it all!!

  19. Rebecca Leef Ashley

    So true! I recall being on a plane and a couple got on and say in front of us… visibly annoyed that we were behind them. The man turned around and actually said “I sure hope they are good travellers” …like a threat! The boys were 5 & 7 at the time and we were on the last leg of a 5 month extended trip…I knew they would both be asleep before we left the ground but instead I gave him a “gee I hope so too”. I was somehow offended when they complimented us on the kids behaviour when we landed 8 hrs later. Like they were somehow superior.
    That said however, on the other side of the coin…my grandmother who was once the sweetest lady ever now suffers from dementia and struggles with everything… I can totally see her saying something like that … it is a sickness and can’t be helped or explained so hopefully your neighbor will get some joy out of watching your kids play even if she does complain about it!

  20. wonderoak

    Yes I totally agree about the dementia, it was more of an example of an attitude- but I’m certainly not angry at her specifically!

  21. Esther

    I totally agree with your points, and as a mom of 3 grown children and grandma of 2, I can affirm that there are times when I wish I didn’t have to take my children out in public because they were being overly loud or disruptive. I was also very proactive and made sure to let others I would minimize the disruption where possible. I am more concerned now with parents who ignore their kids ‘bad behavior and clearly don’t care how rude or disruptive their kids are. I am happy to accommodate children who are being normal active kids. It’s the bratty, ignorant, neglectful parents I can’t stand. Thanks for your wise words.

  22. Margaret Sky

    I’m a little late to this post, but just wanted to stop in to say “Amen, sistah!” After having my daughter, I started really noticing how many places are not technically “adults only,” yet it felt strange/awkward to take children there. In many other parts of the world, children are more integrated into everyday life and everyday places. I wish it were more that way here.

  23. Sara

    A wise woman of seven once told me that our children are here to teach others patience and us (the parents) humility. I’ve remembered that with my six for the past 15 years.

  24. desireehausam

    We have 8 kids; I used to let myself feel guilty for taking up space, until one day it struck me that, you know, yeah it’s one family but it’s also ten people. If ten separate people visit a church, they normally all get donuts, right? If ten people buy plane tickets, they all get a seat, right? Each kid is an individual with an equal right to take up space in this world to anyone else’s. 🙂

  25. Lisa

    Why are you deleting my comments??? I said nothing wrong, why do you only allow comments of support on your blog? That is not right.

  26. caralee2010

    Just dropping this here for Jane:

    “The Fair Housing Act of 1968 made it illegal for landlords to discriminate against prospective tenants with children under the age of 18. Familial status is a protected class according to that law, along with national origin, race, religion, disability, sex or handicap. From the application process through terminating a lease, the Fair Housing Act outlaws any overt discrimination by landlords toward tenants with children.

    There are limited exceptions to the law. One instance might happen when a family has so many children that occupancy would exceed the municipal fire code regulations for residents per room. Another exception is if the landlord has been granted permission for a senior residential complex specifically geared toward citizens aged 55 or older.”

  27. wonderoak

    Lisa, that’s not what I did. If you read through the comments you will see that not all of them are supportive (not on Facebook either). I accidentally deleted your comment this morning and I didn’t enjoy the backlash you provided on my Facebook page. Also your Facebook profile appeared fake. Differing opinions are more than welcome, however, I will delete things that shame moms because my goal is to be a safe place for moms. My message is encouraging and I won’t have people walk away feeling slimed and less than. By the way – I meant to leave the comment (as I said) but attacking me personally isn’t appreciated. I am a writer (that is my profession, as in I provide for my family that way) so that would be why I write about things going on in my life. Obviously that’s not the way I deal with my neighbor.

  28. A Morning Grouch

    I think I used to be a bit curmudgeony when it came to other people’s kids. Now I have two (loud, crazy, wild) beauties of my own and I see the world through a whole new, kinder, happier, rosier light. I think a lot of the backlash comes from unhappiness and fear.:{ Which is a real emotion that can’t be denied, even if it isn’t always expressed in the right ways.

  29. Heather E Hughes

    So nice to hear the marbles that ramble around in my head in print. Well done! And as we all raise the future, we will be the future curmudgeons on the block. As such, I promise to love chaos, to treasure joy of others, to see kids as an invitation to slow down and when on an airplane, to offer to hold and empathize with the harried parents. We have all been there, and I refuse to forget! Carry on!

  30. Lisa

    I would have never gone to FB if you allowed my comment here. It’s still awaiting moderation and there is nothing wrong with it. And I did not attack you, not sure where you got that from. I said you had removed my comment wondering if you did that on purpose. You just said you deleted it so I was right wasn’t I?

    Unlike you I am not a writer and for personal reasons I use this profile. That doesn’t mean my comments are less valuable or real. I am not trolling and was genuinely voicing a different view side. But my comment still has not been approved so I truly wonder why not.

  31. Sherry Hackett

    Kids are great! It’s some parents who are the problem. Children are not born instinctively knowing right from wrong or how to behave like respectful children. Children are not plants.. you cannot simply water them once a week and let them grow. Children need love, nurturing.. and discipline. Too many parents nowadays think their responsibility ends with giving their kids a bowl of Cheerios in the morning. They let them run wild and raise themselves.. never taking the time to correct them and explain things along the way. That is the reason so many people no longer enjoy having children around.

    When they are well behaved and respectful, children are a joy to have around. On the other hand, it is sad to see so many ill mannered, untamed, disrespectful spoiled brats nowadays because that causes people to dislike children.. and it is really NOT the children who are at fault.

  32. wonderoak

    Lisa, the problem wasn’t the original comment it was the way you treated me afterwards. This is my house, my words, I do not owe you anything and I’m not okay with being bullied.

  33. Silvia Lesko

    I’m a single, never-been-married, childless woman in her sixties and I say, ” bring on those kids”! You are welcome to be my neighbors anytime.

  34. Molly

    What you (and parents in general) need to understand is that you love your kids-unconditionally and completely. Strangers don’t know you and your kids, and because they don’t, they will get annoyed by the things you think are cute but to anyone else really are annoying. I can’t tell you how many times a mother with a bunch of kids has has rammed me or run over me with a stroller and despite me crying out in pain keeps moving with nary a ‘sorry’ or ‘excuse me’. It’s great you love your kids, but to assume/say that they don’t annoy me is wrong as I’m entitled to my own feelings.

    People don’t give dirty looks for no reason.

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