Did you see this article: “I’m Not Prejudiced, I Just Don’t Like 25% of Humanity”? In it, Haley talks about how (in general) America has become anti-child. People get mad if kids are disruptive in a restaurant. Crying on flights? How thoughtless of the small monster! And if they fail to be silent in Mass? Get. Out. Ya’ll just better stop raining on my parade.
Dear America: You can do better.
Thinking about it, it’s no surprise that people write things like the “26 Important Reminders Why Birth Control Exists” Haley linked to. Kids are just these little tasmanian devils that eat your money and steal your soul, not to mention your sleep. So it would make sense that people don’t like them.
I come from a big family, and I’ve been around big families my entire life. While I’m not a mom, I’ve cared for kids and grown up knowing that while kids can be hard, they are worth it. And doing all the reading I do now has only helped cement that belief.
So when I read that buzzfeed list of why to use birth control, I honestly had to laugh. It’s sad, yes, the comments people made on it. They are so afraid of kids that crayons on the wall bother them? What? I mean, look at that smiling face when kids say “I love you”. Menacing! Artwork on the car? Terrifying! Yes, there’s a limit to where kids should be allowed and how they should behave. But come on. Baby smiles are so precious, even if it’s because they just farted. Yes, I said that. Maybe kids will put oatmeal in their hair and spread bodily fluids all over their bed. Maybe they will scream and you can’t figure out why.
Maybe they will make other people uncomfortable, but that’s okay. We need to get uncomfortable.
We need to realize that while it’s not okay for kids to totally misbehave, we need to cut them some slack. Kids have so much pressure to be perfect. “Sit still” you hiss at them, or “Write your name perfectly 10 times”. Since when did we have so many crazy expectations for kids? Where are the days when kids roamed the neighborhood and made memories with friends? Some of my fondest childhood memories are of getting dirty in the mud in our backyard. We would play restaurant or re-decorate a recycled Christmas tree. I had the freedom to be creative. Yes, that did turn into a big mud fight that got on our house once. We had to clean that one up! My brothers tried to eat snails and worms too. Many of my dolls received haircuts, and my favorite blanket is in shreds. Childhood is just kind of messy.
But so what?
It’s an absolute shame that when we see kids now, we see only what they take away from us. We have our perfect little sanitized life and if there’s an itty bitty dirty hand involved oh my landa would ya’ll get the Purell STAT?!?!
What about if we stopped complaining so much, and talked more about how they enrich our families and communities? Tell me about the time the kids surprised you with breakfast in bed. The homemade cards. The messy baby kisses. Honestly, when I read the buzzfeed thing I was cracking up. The kids (for the most part) are being kids! They’re going to be messy. They are not always going to be quiet.
Shame on us if we can’t see the beauty in that.
If you don’t have experience with kids, I can see why you might be afraid of them. From my limited experience, I’ve gathered that it’s a lot of work. If you’ve never seen those precious baby smiles and the laughter of little kids filled with glee, completely oblivious to our messed up world, you’ve missed out on something. And I’m sorry you’ve only seen the bad parts.
But that is not a valid excuse. Just because you don’t have good experiences with kids doesn’t mean you can make sweeping generalizations about them. Hating kids doesn’t say anything about them, but it says a lot about you.
So take some time to get to know families, especially families who openly love their kids and will let you see a glimpse of family life. Help a mom out when she drops something with a baby on her hip. Anonymously pay for a family’s dinner when their kids are behaving. Make dinners. Babysit. Challenge yourself to see the good. Who knows?
You might just fall in love with baby smiles.
What’s your take on this?
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P.P.S. Please don’t get mad at me for giving excuses to parents who are failing to control their kids. That’s a whole different can of worms.