Controversy recently ignited when a popular Northern California restaurant posted a sign aggressively banning unruly children and babies from their establishment.
Yesterday, on the heels of this, I shared an old post I wrote about the divide between parents and non-parents, which, if the collection of comments and emails and death threats I receive whenever I post something on The Huffington Post is any indication, seems pretty wide these days.
Whether you’ve read that old post of mine or not, you probably assume I’m outraged at the restaurant for its “no loud kids” policy, like a lot of my fellow parents. But I actually don’t have a problem with it.
Funny thing about parents: we hate kids.
Let me clarify: notwithstanding the fact that I joke a lot about hating my own kid, I love him more than anything and will not hesitate to go full Orlando Bloom on someone if they attempt to mock him, or harm him, in any way. As the children’s book says, I love Detective Munch to the moon and back (even if I occasionally wish I could make that trip a reality for him).
But that doesn’t mean I love your son. Or your daughter.
Becoming a parent changes your perspective on a lot of things. One of the primary things it changes is how you feel about other parents. Despite my resistance to joining the Parenting Borg, and my reluctance to surrender my identity to the all-encompassing label of “Dad”, when I became a parent I couldn’t help but identify with other members of my tribe. Suddenly, I was empathizing with them.
Before I had a kid of my own, not only did I find it impossible to empathize with a harried mom or a stressed dad trying to control a tantrum-ing toddler – shut that baby UP! – I didn’t even bother to try to sympathize with them. Instead I just blamed them, for not being able to control their kids, for being shitty parents, for bringing such an obnoxious, ungrateful kid into the world. It was naive and intolerant and pretty gross. And once I had an obnoxious, ungrateful, unruly kid of my own to contend with, I woke up.
I stopped blaming parents and I started putting the blame where it belongs: on the kids.
Kids suck. And no kids suck more than Other People’s Kids.
It’s not their fault, most of the time; they’re just kids. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s their parents fault either. Again: THEY’RE JUST KIDS. Obviously there are exceptions: if your kid is going H.A.M in public and you’re blithely scrolling your Facebook page, oblivious or apathetic to the disruption/destruction, and you don’t even bother to correct or at least contain the situation? You are the problem. But assuming you are an attentive parent whose kid’s kidness is just getting the better of them? You’ll get nothing but sympathy from me.
But I hate your kids. And I don’t want to be around them. I’ll tolerate them, and I’ll empathize with what you’re going through because I’ve been through it myself, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be happy about it. Parents deserve time away from kids as much as non-parents do. Hell, we might deserve it more!
Which is why a restaurant banning kids is A-OK with me. And I bet you’d be surprised at how many parents agree.
With all due respect to the psycho childless – sorry, childfree – people who attack parent bloggers every time they don’t get a joke – nobody hates kids more than we do.
You think they’re annoying at restaurants and on planes and in stores? We live with them. We deal with their bullshit every day. No one needs a break from them more than us. Despite all the controversy and uproar, I bet that NorCal restaurant is fucking JAMMED with parents this weekend – parents who left their kids with a sitter and ran to the childless oasis that this eatery has now become.
(I know, I know; we made the choice to have kids, it’s our problem, we need to stop inflicting our kids on other people. Cool, man. Do you kiss your mother with that intolerant, hateful mouth?)
Yes, I’m a parent. And I love my kid. And I understand how difficult kids can often be. So you’ll get no judgment from me. But neither will a business that chooses to draw a line. Because I remember what it was like to not have kids, and before you become a parent, it’s understandable that you might want to take advantage of the perks of that lifestyle. God knows when I have a chance to get out without the kids, Mom and Buried and I don’t go to Chuck E. Cheese.
(I know it’s hard to believe, but parents and non-parents are both people, and while neither group deserves special treatment, both groups have equal rights. We can all get along and co-exist and even share space in public places, like airplanes and restaurants and movie theaters. The key is to not be dicks to each other.)
So I’m all for the occasional banning of children at local restaurants. (Emphasis on “occasional”. I have no problem bringing my kid to a bar once in a while, and leaving when he becomes an issue. If all restaurants suddenly went anti-kid, my day-drinking would take a major hit!) Sure, it can be a little inconvenient, since neither babysitters nor the money they cost grows on trees. But this is America, we have a lot of options. After exercising the one that allows me to have as many kids as I want, I can accept the fact that some people want to live without them, even if it’s just for a few hours.
More power to the owners of that restaurant. But they shouldn’t expect an invite to my son’s birthday party.