Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Issue about which I am ambivalent

Being childless.

No, I'm not ambivalent about being childless.  At this point in my life, if I become pregnant, it's off to Planned Parenthood ASAP.  And I'm not sure I'll ever be ready for kids.  Like my old sociology professor used to say, "My favorite kids are the ones I can hand back."

The issue I'm ambivalent about?  Other people's kids.  You know which kids I'm talking about.  The ones who live upstairs and throw temper tantrums.  The ones on the plane who scream.  The ones in restaurants whose parents keep having to talk loudly in baby talk to get them to eat.  The ones who run around the apartment complex, screaming and playing, no parents in sight.

The question is, where do we draw the line?

As someone who is pretty sure she wants to remain childless, I find other people's children downright annoying.  That is, I don't have kids because I don't want to deal with them, so what makes you think I want to deal with yours?  I mean, really, the world does not revolve around you and your child, so please stop assuming that we all want to hear your precious little child whining about how their spaghetti and meatballs at this fancy Italian restaurant DOESN'T TASTE RIGHT.*

But on the other hand, when you have a kid, you have a kid.  That means that you have to bring them places.  Sometimes, places like planes.  Children and people with children often need to travel, and using a plane is the fastest way.  Additionally, if parents could have total control over when their children threw tantrums, there would be no tantrums because seriously, no one wants to listen to that.  It's not remotely adorable, especially when it's because the dog ATE THE ICE CREAM QUICKLY.**  If you're a full-time parent, and you have to run an errand, but you can't leave your child at home, then that kid is going to be in the grocery store with you, running around, bumping into my shopping cart.  It's not something you can help.

I just read an article on (the most trusted name in fake news--The Daily Show switched places I think) about how parents need to control their children on flights or just not fly anymore.  I don't ever remember flying with a crying child, but I'm absolutely sure that I would want to kill one if I had the misfortune of being in that situation.  It struck a chord with me, though, because of the way that people complain about overweight people also flying on planes.  My uncle once complained throughout lunch, during the whole Kevin Smith Southwest fiasco, about how he was just so thoroughly disgusted that he had to sit next to some fat guy during his flight.  Never mind that the fat guy was probably more uncomfortable and embarrassed and was JUST trying to fucking fly somewhere, like my uncle.

So the question is, where is the line?  Sometimes it's easy on a case-by-case basis.  My neighbors upstairs whose child throws at least 1 tantrum a day, more during vacations?  Something's wrong (once that kid cried 5 times every day for a week, while I was trying to take time off work to relax over the holidays--relaxing was hard with all that adorable shrieking).  I think that's a parenting issue (these people also vacuumed at 11:30pm when I had swine flu, put nails in walls at 7:00am on a Saturday morning, and stomp around as if there's more gravity than usual).  A kid crying on a plane?  Look, if you think you're uncomfortable on a plane, the kid is almost definitely feeling worse.  It's DIFFICULT to be a parent trying to fly with young children; even if you do your research and come prepared, they still might cry, no matter what you do.  So long as you're not the parent with earplugs in and a magazine in front of your face while your child is bawling and kicking the seat in front of h/er, there's a chance you're overwhelmed, or you've tried/done everything you're supposed to.

Yes, it's annoying.  But I'm more annoyed with children in my apartment complex, and children who are around normally.  Ones who aren't trapped on the plane with their ears not popping.  Ones who ARE more easily disciplined.

I think there's a culture today of spoiling children.  I won't lie: I was a fucking privileged kid.  I threw tantrums like a pro; I'm not sure either of my parents was ready for me.  But there are children who will throw tantrums and misbehave, whatever the situation, including on planes.  Those kids are the problem.  Those kids make people like me hate kids.  And unfortunately, there's no way to tell them apart on a flight.

* made up example
** not a made up example; a girl was with her family getting ice cream at the local farm stand, and they bought their dog vanilla ice cream in a doggie dish.  The dog ate the ice cream in a quick gulp (not unusal, even for medium sized dogs), and the little girl who was pleased to be holding the dog got very upset that the dog had eaten the ice cream so quickly.  I thought it was HILARIOUS.

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