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I love children

Every now and then someone will breathlessly say to me “I hate kids but I just adore Eddie!” I watch them smugly wait for me to fall over myself with gratitude as if this is some kind of compliment to me and my son.

It’s not a compliment. I’m not sure how I am meant to respond to it either. Ummm I’m glad you find my son aesthetically pleasing? I’m glad the stories about the cute things he does entertain you? I’m pleased that he has performed in such a way in front of you that you don’t hate him just because he’s a child? I mean really. The only thing you do when you say shit like that to me (or rant on Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr about how you hate kids) is make me put you on a list of people who I never want my kids to be around.

Saying you hate kids is hateful. It’s not edgy. It’s not cool. And if I ever, ever, ever made you think I’m “one of you” then my God I lost something in translation.

Too often I see people who think it’s cool to joke about “breeders” and how “gross” kids are. They just hate kids! But not yours…of course. I will never understand this horrible attitude. But I’m always especially surprised when I hear these comments from activists, and those in social justice circles, and from people who consider themselves feminists or allies. Because – you do know that nothing keeps women more isolated than feeling like they can never take their children anywhere right? And as a social group children are abused in huge numbers. They’re also silenced by those who are meant to protect them (from parents to politicians) and also by the fact that under a certain age they can’t talk at all or people think it’s cute to pretend not to understand what they’re saying. They’re also excluded from so many places already. And I mean – there are literally people who march in the street for the right to physically hit them. But umm you’re the oppressed one because you can’t enjoy your long black because a child is existing in your presence?

Anyway, this blog started as a rant about how grossed out I am by people who bitch and moan about children being in public spaces but then I thought – why give them more airtime?

So instead I’m going to go positive (but being on brand I’m also going to be a bit snarky) and thank some people for loving children in small ways. Because loving kids in public spaces means loving their parents. Loving women who are mostly the primary caregivers of most children. And generally just making the world a better fucking place for everyone.

So the biggie – thanks for not being an asshole in a cafe or restaurant! Thank YOU! Yes, you – that waiter who is run off her feet but still let’s my son practice his language by letting him order his own smoothie. You’re a fucking awesome person. Thank you to the dude at the table next to us who says ‘what a cool fire engine!’ to my son. Thanks for acknowledging his existence! You made him super happy because he fucking loves his fire engine. Thanks to the couple who mouth “it’s OK” and smile when I apologise for my little one crying. I don’t know why he’s crying and he’ll stop soon. So thanks for not making me feel awful about it when I’m trying everything I can to calm him down. Thanks to the clearly hungover group of students who smile and high five my son when he runs over to them to introduce himself. I’m sorry – he’s extroverted and you’re a big group of loud people and he loves big groups of loud people. Thanks to everyone who doesn’t scowl at us when we walk in and loudly claim “here we go. Why are there so many kids around here?” or laugh and say “ughhh breeders” as if I can’t hear them. While you click your fingers at waiters and then make them wait while you take photos of your eggs and tweet “I so hate kids #eggs” and leave all your messy dishes on the table in a pile and put cigarette butts out on your toast and sit for hours at your table instead of letting someone else use it and leave your newspapers in a pile on your food – I’ll smile at the waiter for you and we will comment about how you’re a bunch of turds.

Thanks for not being a jerk on flights. How much do flights suck? Isn’t it weird how parents also need to fly with their children? It’s like so arrogant for parents to want to fly with their kids. It’s almost like they want to see family or have a holiday like normal people do. Thanks for not audibly groaning when I sit next to you with my two kids. Thanks for playing peekaboo with my toddler through the seats while I breastfeed. I have been dreading this flight and your kindness makes me want to cry. Thanks for showing my son photos of your cat on your phone. He loves cats! You’re a fucking awesome person! Thanks so much for helping me with my bag. My back hurts so much and I am trying not to hold anyone up because I don’t want to be the reason why someone goes on Facebook and says kids are awful on flights. Thank you for not sighing and loudly complaining about my crying baby. I’m really overwhelmed right now. I wish I hadn’t booked a night flight but it was the cheapest option and I thought he’d sleep. I’m scared he’s in pain. I can see you rolling your eyes and grabbing your phone ready to tell everyone how useless I am – how useless all mothers who dare to travel with kids are. I’ve had a huge week and I just want to get to my dad’s place and have a bit of a break because I’m so exhausted. I’m sorry we’re both existing on the same flight as you. I am sure you’re tired too but being nasty probably won’t miraculously cure that? Thank you to the person in the aisle next to us for saying “It’s OK – my baby always cried on planes” or for gently patting my shoulder through the seat gap and saying “Not long to go”. You’re awesome. Your small kindness makes a massive difference.

Thanks for letting me be with my children in a public place. Thanks for not being an asshole about my buggy. I know it’s massive. I hate it. It’s like a monster truck – but this is the model that was given to us and it works because I have to walk everywhere so I need something sturdy. I know I am taking up space. I know I just knocked something over but I’ve picked it up and I need to get this medication and I can’t leave the buggy outside the chemist because it might get stolen. I am sorry for taking a buggy on a bus – but I can’t fold it down when I am carrying a weeks old baby. Thank you for helping me on and off. I get so embarrassed trying to do it on my own when I’m not really strong enough. Thanks for making room for me. Thanks for smiling instead of growling at me. I can’t afford two cars and my son loves his buggy. If you look into it he’s waving at you!

Thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt that I’m not intentionally trying to piss you off by being near you with a child. Thanks for treating my son like a human being. He’s a great little person. All kids are. They have ups and downs just like anybody else. They feel overwhelmed easily and sometimes it’s hard to make them do what you want them to do because they’re people! Thanks for not getting angry when a child cries. I cried in a pie shop the other day and I’m an adult. If I’m allowed to without being scowled at by other adults surely a child is allowed to?

It’s a pretty radical act to just not join in when people start bitching about kids. To call them on it and say – hey, why don’t you help a mama out instead of bagging her? Why not smile at a kid – that might stop them crying! It’s easy to say “yeah, kids are the WORST” because like all human beings kids can be annoying. Believe me, parents know this better than anyone. But do the test – would you feel comfortable saying you hate women? Because you went to a shop and a woman was crying and it irritated you? Nah. Probs not aye?

Anyway, in short – thank you. Thanks for recognising a child’s right to be in a public place. Thanks for recognising that parents aren’t evil breeders out to destroy your #eggs and #longblack.

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19 Comments

  1. Leo88

     /  May 2, 2015

    This blog has made me want to be much more appreciative to all those lovely people out there who are helpful and kind to me, when I’m out with my kids. I think I’ve been taking them a bit for granted.

    While I get the ‘OMG are you kidding me?’ looks (eg when I try to shove my monster truck/double buggy into a cafe awkwardly with one hand, while holding the heavy door open with the other and no one thinks to offer help – including cafe workers who sometimes, seriously, roll their eyes), I just as often, more often, get help and kindness from strangers. But after reading this blog I’ve realised I don’t appreciate it enough.

    Just yesterday I had my two under 2’s in the buggy and the wheel was making a funny noise. In order to check this out I clearly needed to stop the buggy. This is something I try to avoid at all costs as in my children’s minds, the buggy MUST be moving at all times. NB WTF? But I had to investigate the wheel. Within 1 minute of stopping I had two separate 65 years + men stop to assist me. One held the buggy off the ground while I played with the wheel and the other looked on to see what he might be able to do. Normally it’s women that are helpful and kind but these two old blokes were totally sweet and I probably didn’t show my gratitude very well. So I’m going to make a point of letting those sort of people know how appreciative I am. PS wheel sorted, thank God, as we were on our way to the park, and if I’d had to cancel that I would have needed more than the promise of a marshmellow.

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  2. I have to admit that now that I’m a mum, I totally regret the attitude I had towards other mums in the past. Not that I’m a rude person, and I would never make out-loud comments for other mums to “accidentally” hear. But I never had experience with babies and young children, and so I’d be sitting out in a restaurant or something thinking, “Geez, why does that mum let her kid keep crying? Why is that mum ignoring her kid having a tantrum? Why aren’t they DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT?” Or even at some functions, “Why on earth would they bring their child to this? Why didn’t they get a sitter?”

    I’m just glad I was never a turd to voice these things out loud, but I feel really silly now. I realise you CAN’T just miraculously shut a baby up. Sometimes they just cry. And cry. If I left every public place whenever my baby (as a newborn particularly) started crying, I would never go anywhere. And although I still have no experience with toddlers yet, I can now totally understand why a mother sometimes just tunes out to tantrums and lets them scream, or alternatively, why she gives in just to get them to shut up. I also bring my baby to some functions because f*** it, she goes where I go, that’s how she’ll experience society and learn to grow and behave, right? Getting a sitter that I can trust my baby with hasn’t happened yet, and I frankly can’t always rely on family, and sometimes she goes through difficult periods where I’m the only one who can settle her, so no I can’t leave her with anyone else.

    I’ve also realised that someone listening to a baby cry for ten minutes in a coffee shop is not actually suffering as badly as the mother who has listened to the baby crying all bloody night and now all day too. They can put up with it for ten effing minutes or move to another coffee shop.

    I do wonder, though, how anyone can say they “hate” kids – weren’t they one themselves once? And would they call their own mum a “breeder”? Pretentious twits.

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  3. People are often so damned selfish these days that they’ve forgotten that we’re all a village and we can all be part of contributing to the next generation. Some of my most fun moments have been with other people’s children. I used to love helping out at little athletics and encouraging kids to try their best. Seeing the looks on their faces when they did something that they never dreamt they could do just gives the best warm and fuzzies.

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  4. Miche

     /  April 26, 2015

    A few weeks ago I was on a bus when a mum with a pre-schooler got on. The pre-schooler wailed loudly, shouted “I’m naughty! I’m naughty!” in a distraught manner, wouldn’t sit still, and hit their mum.

    Through all of this Mum spoke calmly, told the child they needed to sit down now, no, they are not naughty it’s just been a long day, and was generally absolutely fucking angelic.

    When I got off the bus I leaned in and told her “You are an excellent mum.”

    The same bus driver took me home later in the afternoon. He said “Just thought you’d like to know that kid was completely silent for the rest of the trip, playing with Mum’s phone. Dunno what you said, but it worked.”

    I looked him in the eye and said “I just told her she’s an excellent mother.”

    He looked shocked.

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  5. Great post! So true how great people can be for being kind to your kids when out and about. I have been amazed by the kindness of strangers. It has surprised me how often teenage boys have helped us off and on the bus with the buggy and the baby. Teenagers get a lot of bad press! Not deserved in my opinion.

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  6. Kelly

     /  April 26, 2015

    You obviously love your kid and that’s wonderful. And writing what you have is a brave and honest thing to do.

    I think we need more of that so that all sides can understand each other a little better and hopefully get along a lot, lot better.

    I hope you won’t mind but I’ve posted a little about what it might be like from the ‘other side’

    I don’t hate kids. Because that would be a terrible thing. But I’m not into kids.

    And just as there are some people who make it hard and difficult for parents, there are also some parents who make it hard and difficult for those that don’t have kids.

    I am the person who…

    … can hold a baby and not think it’s cute. To me it’s weird and squishy and kinda funny looking. So just because I am a woman please don’t think that I love all babies and want to hold them and please don’t look at me funny or give rude comments when I decline to hold said baby

    … stays late at work, covers the meeting, fills in for you because the parents have all left early to pick up their child from school, day care etc. Because according to the parents I don’t have kids so I won’t mind, will I?

    … works through every Christmas holiday so that parents can spend time with their families. Because again I don’t have kids or a family so Christmas can’t be that important to me. Because it’s all about the kids.

    … steps around you while you and other mothers block the path, aisle with your kids etc and glare at me as I (alone and obviously single) walk towards you and expect me to walk onto the road to get past or to go in a completely different direction. Because we are parents and are more important than you so why should we be polite and courtesy and leave room for others to get by us.

    … is also tired and worries about money and life and who might just be sitting in a cafe enjoying the peace and quiet when a parent and kids come and sit right next to me, being loud and noisy all the while glaring at me as if daring me to say something. Instead I just leave.

    … is nervous about flying so hearing a baby or child scream in terror /tiredness/grumpiness through a 12 hour flight only makes me more scared and nervous and feel for the child who unlike me doesn’t have any choice because their parents choice to take their child on holiday, which is their right, but makes us wonder why any parent would put their child through such a distressing thing as flying in a plane..

    … chooses not to have children, just as parents have chosen to have children. Neither is wrong or right, both are choices.

    Once we understand all of this and can see both sides only then can we make things better

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    • Thanks for your comment Kelly. I’m sorry you’ve been made to feel the way that you do. I think all of this stuff is really hard because I see so many arguments started that are childless people insisting parents are out to get them and reverse and there is really no way to go forward other than – be nice. Be nice to each other whether you have kids or not. Don’t assume. Don’t assume that a parent who leaves work early to pick up their child isn’t working until midnight (like I did) or assume that a person without kids is comfortable with you leaving to do that. Definitely don’t assume everyone wants to hold your baby! Don’t assume others aren’t also exhausted. I guess there’s also an underlying thing of – be fair around expectations and also around your own privilege. I sometimes have to travel for work and I have taken my (then) newborn because I was breastfeeding. I didn’t necessarily “want” to do it, but I felt I needed to do my job and be a parent well. I’m lucky I’m in a really mum-friendly and child friendly workplace. So I did. I have had to travel with my son for hospital appointments, again didn’t want to, but I did. I’ve also flown with my children for a funeral and yes – a holiday after numerous medical procedures we wanted to celebrate. All of the flights have been pretty great really. A bit of crying as all kids do (my son cried in a shop the other day because I didn’t adequately explain yellow to him, crying doesn’t always mean distressed), and mostly just huge excitement for my toddler. As I always do I apologised profusely to everyone around me as my son gave scintillating commentary “PLANE PLANE PLANE PLANE” but really I don’t think I can agree that flying is a distress for kids (I think car rides are often more distressing). Definitely some kids. But I guess it’s about assumption isn’t it – don’t assume the baby crying on the plane for 12 hours is heading over for a “holiday” and their mother is putting them through it – they might be on their way to a funeral and that mother is probably a wreck. Anyway, I’m rambling. Thank you for sharing your perspective. And again, I’m very sorry you’ve been treated the way you have. You’re exactly, absolutely right about no choice being more worthy than another. I hope I didn’t give the impression I think parenting is a more valid choice.

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  7. I respect and indeed applaud people who know their own minds enough to know they don’t want children. And isn’t it great that women now have that option to completely control their fertility? But I feel as if the corollary of me not judging them for their choice is for them not to judge the choices I make as a parent.

    We have a very dear friend whose partner says repeatedly how she is allergic to children. Can’t stand them. Even if I could find a babysitter for my kids – which I can’t – I’m not shelling out money I can ill afford just to accommodate other people’s aversions to my kids so my outlook is that if someone wants to hang out with us as a couple then they have to accept that our kids are part of the package deal.

    My kids are pretty well-behaved in public. They have their moments to be sure but they are now all of an age where we can go places with them, eat out with them, and not be panicky about doing so. We are actually often complimented on how well behaved our kids are, how lovely they are with each other and how we are doing a good job as parents. We gobble those remarks up like manna in the wilderness because parenting so often feels like a really hard slog with no feedback to determine whether we are doing things right or wrong.

    Those compliments also make up for the times (thankfully few and far between) when people feel it’s important to tell us where we are going wrong. I’m of the camp whereby I ignore my kids’ tantrums. I let them burn themselves out rather than feeding them fuel in the form of attention. Most people respect my decision to ignore my kids while they behave like twerps but occasionally there’s that person who has to offer the suggestion of a smack or who tries to comfort the kid in question with attention or worse still a treat. Those people get very short shrift with me. Definitely better to focus the memory on all those times someone compliments us.

    As a postscript, knowing how meaningful those kind words and compassionate actions can be, I am mindful to “pay it forward” and now compliment other parents on their children’s behaviour. Maybe if enough of us do so it will change the atmosphere around families of small kids for the better.

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  8. I love this post so much that it’s actually made me well up. That’s a bit ridiculous, right?! Just goes to show how often I’ve encountered the people to be thankful for and those taking photos of their #eggs.

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  9. Kirsten

     /  April 26, 2015

    I totally have to go back and say thank you to the vodafone young staff who smiled and were patient through a 1.5yo crying from fatigue, my older 3 flopping around and my ASD son spilling lemonade… “your kids are being good believe it or not” the like 18yo girl said… what a relief. my wedding is in 5 weeks and i had no choice to take them out at that time when i had money and their dad was at footy training. some people are just awesome.

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  10. this is pretty much the coolest thing I’ve ever read 🙂 KIDS ARE PEOPLE! So hard to write about children’s rights in a way that’s easy to read, you’ve nailed it. I especially nodded my head off at the bit about comments like this coming from lovers of social justice- how can they not get it?

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  11. kirsten

     /  April 25, 2015

    Awesome blog, well said. My daughter had a melt down in the supermarket & I was trying to continue shopping & must have looked so over it, a woman came up & told her she would cry so my daughter didn’t have to & proceeded to walk down the aisle pretending to cry! Made us both laugh, felt so much better.

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  12. So true. My daughter is very confident and wants to talk to everyone. Sometimes its clear that she is bothering people so I steer her away, but for the most part people are happy to talk to her. Once we were having lunch and she turned round a few times to talk to the people on the next table. The bloke was complaining loudly to his wife that we should be able to keep her under control! I know it might be a bit annoying when you are trying to enjoy a meal, but we were trying to distract her so she wouldn’t talk to them, and I think she was only just turned 3 at the time. Plus for the most part she sat lovely and ate her meal, she wasn’t shouting or running riot, it could have been a lot worse for them!

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  13. I never really understood the whole hatred of kids thing but it never ceases to amuse me that they can hate EVERY other child “Oh, except yours!”. I’m not a mum and don’t want kids but I don’t hate them by any stretch. I never saw the point in making a parents job tens times harder by being a prat. I made a decision to be that helpful person on the plane that has time to offer assistance – you know, since we’re all stuck in a tin tube in the middle of the sky anyway. People are dumb.

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  14. I like seeing kids at the supermarket. I’m one of those people who pulls faces at them and smiles at them while their mum is busy. But I’m self conscious of initiating interaction with kids I don’t know otherwise, thinking their parents might think I’m weird or not like it or something.
    A little girl called out and asked me my name as I was walking down a suburban street to collect my friend’s kid from daycare, but I was too far gone to stop and talk so I shouted “Hi!” and waved back at her. I hope that was enough.
    You’re right, I used to be one of those “weird about kids” people, but I hope I’m less so now. Mainly because I hang out with friends who have kids and think more from the perspective of a parent than my selfish “ugh noise” place.
    Great post, as ever x

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    • Miss Whanau

       /  May 5, 2015

      OMG same. I’m not a parent, and have decided not to have children but I do love them. I often wonder if supermarket parents think I’m some weirdo stalking their child.

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  15. Great post. Certainly eye opening to those who don’t have kids. I think the message is also to just try and be a better person all round. X

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  16. Kids are people too! Small kindnesses matter and more people should keep that in mind. Since I’ve been in London I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how nice people are — offering to carry buggies dowb stairs and on public transport, or pregnant people who need a seat, or the parent who is shepherding their kids on school holidays. It’s just really good to see.

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  17. This is wonderful and you are wonderful.

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