I never thought I’d come to a kid’s defense.
While other girls had baby dolls and cooed over newborn cousins, I was politely disinterested. I have no motherly instinct, no more than I have the desire to own a cat. I don’t yearn when I see a kid, I just think -- "oh, a kid. I hope they don’t talk during the movie."
Though cute, kids have some rather irritating habits. They sometimes scream in public, they’re the personification of selfishness, and are often inconvenient.
But it’s okay for me to think this. I’m not talking about my own -- I have none. Although I hear plenty of parents talk about their kids like they’re the spawn of Satan, which definitely encourages me to join the ranks of parenthood (sarcasm).
It’s been my recent impression that often it’s not the kids who are the problem -- it’s the parents.
Though I don’t remember every single detail, I was once a child. And based on this experience, I expect certain things when I see one -- horseplay, loudness, fidgeting, "look-at-me" behavior, annoying toys, inappropriate comments and brutal honesty.
So when they act this way, I’m fine with it. What did I expect? A chat about our stock portfolios? They’re not little adults, after all. It’s like when my dog poops on the floor when she’s sick -- she’s a dog! Did I expect her to run to the toilet?
I’ve seen many parents angry at their kids for exhibiting the exact behavior they’re supposed to. This is expressed -- in public and full view of other people -- with death stares, exclamations of "you’re an idiot" and the words I was taught never to say: "shut up!"
I recently saw a woman angrily rip her daughter from the front seat at a play, just because she believed the girl was distracting. She huffed and puffed and ranted at her kid like she’d stabbed the lead actor. I felt bad for the girl. Side note: She wasn’t distracting, the mother was.
I don’t have kids, so can’t really understand how stressful being a parent is, though I’m fairly certain having a dog is easier. But you don’t have to be one to know it’s wrong to look at your kid like you want to kill him. Just like a non-dog lover knows it’s not cool to kick one.
Sure, I’ve wanted to slap other people’s kids -- which I know I’m not allowed to do. Usually it’s because they’re throwing a tantrum, or shoving their little sister to the ground, or have just told me I look fat.
But otherwise, I don’t have a problem with kids being kids. If I had any, I’d like to think I’d let them behave like kids. Run, get dirty, play around, giggle.
I really only ask one thing of them -- that they be polite. Say please and thank you, don’t beg for new toys, treat your siblings well, don’t insult strangers, be respectfully quiet in public.
Everything else -- the behavior that so enrages their parents -- is just their nature. And I’m not going to give them a death stare for it. Though perhaps if I was on the other side of the experience, I’d be just as frustrated.
JH Mae is a Banner columnist.