Friday, September 2, 2011

I Don't Like It Either!

I don't like screaming.  I don't like doing it myself, unless I'm on a roller coaster, and I certainly don't like it when my kids scream.  In fact, I probably like it a lot less than most parents.  To me, even my own children screaming is like nails on a chalkboard, and I will jump through hoops of fire just to silence the ear splitting shrieks emanating from their sweet, cherubic little faces.  So you can imagine that if my children are screaming someplace public, not only am I completely mortified and wishing I could disappear, I'm also thinking that if I shove this Q-tip far enough into my ear, I will never have to hear this sound again.  As if this isn't punishment enough, I'm also getting glares and rude looks from complete strangers who think I need to be schooled in parenting 101 - and some of them even try to school me themselves.

Of course, I am not everyone.  There are some people who are so numb to the horrific sounds of their own children (probably from hearing it all day every day for the last couple of years) that they fail to realize other people are NOT used to hearing their toddler freak out because he dropped a potato chip and still wants to eat it.  I firmly believe that these parents are merely sleep-deprived to the point of deafness or insanity, or so desperate for some peace and adult interaction that they are pretending their child is a product of June Cleaver rather than the subject of an Edvard Munch painting.      

There are certain things you can't go back and change even if you regret them.  If you are overwhelmed by the number of children you birthed, or regretting that you didn't space them all 18 years apart, it's a bit late to fix that, and you just have to make do.  And since you DO have to feed your children (at least according to DCF and law enforcement), this means that sometimes you will have to "make do" in public places, like the grocery store.  Here I've compiled a list of problems and suggestions for people who are adamant about never wanting to hear screaming children, ever.

Problem: Kids cry in the grocery store
Solution: Order your groceries on line, pay the store to deliver them, or hire the local neighbor kid to do it for you, and let HIM listen to the screaming.

Problem: Kids cry in restaurants
Solution: Take Out

Problem: kids cry in movie theaters
Solution: Wait for the DVD

I know, I know.  Other people have bratty children, and that doesn't mean you should skip out on things you would otherwise enjoy, or go out of your way to accommodate these children.  Well, I can assure you, the child doesn't care one bit if you're at the restaurant or movie theatre, so you don't have to worry about trying to accommodate them.

And there are lots of things in this world that you shouldn't HAVE to do.  You shouldn't have to die eventually, you shouldn't have to lock your doors at night, you shouldn't have to teach your children not to talk to strangers, and you shouldn't have to research every food on the market before you decide if it's edible.  But we adapt to these things easily enough, so why are screaming children any different?

Obviously, I have children.  Like I said before, I don't like hearing them scream.  If my children are crying at a restaurant, or crying in a movie theatre, or crying period, you can bet your rear end I'm not enjoying the experience any more than you are.  And I agree there are some places children shouldn't generally go.   
  • If you're staring at a $50 plate with four egg noddles, two tablespoons of sauce, and three peas, you shouldn't have to listen to a crying child.
  • If you sitting in a hotel room that you're paying $6000 a night for, you shouldn't have to hear a crying child.
  • If you're in a store that expressly says "no children" for one reason or another, you shouldn't have to hear a crying child.
  • If you're flying first class or business class, you shouldn't have to hear a crying child.
  • That's about it
Airplanes, grocery stores, and even regular, middle class restaurants mean you're going to encounter regular, middle-class people, and they will sometimes have children.  Suck it up.  You don't want to listen to a screaming baby, and I don't want to listen to racial slurs, profanity, and vulgarity, especially when my children are around.  I'm gonna call it a fair trade, okay?

I'm not arguing that parents should force other people to listen to their child scream.  I think parents should be doing what they can to make sure their children are well-behaved in a given situation, but still, as a parent, there's only so much you can do.  I'm not going to make excuses for my children when they misbehave, but I know they WILL misbehave, and I will deal with it in the way that works best for them, not for strangers.

I've seen it over and over, from parents and non parents alike: "and they were just standing there not doing ANYTHING to quiet their child that was screaming for a cookie."  What exactly would you like them to do? You can't REALLY force a child to stop crying.  You can try to soothe them, you can threaten punishment, you can actually punish them, you can try to bribe them, but short of smothering them with a pillow you CANNOT actually make them stop.  Oddly enough, this is true even in the grocery store.

So, in short:

Parents of screaming children: Do what you can to make sure your children aren't disrupting the people around them
Parents of other children: Try to have some sympathy, because chances are you have been or will be there at some point
Non-Parents: Stop being a cry baby yourself, and realize that most parents are doing what they can, and aren't trying to make your life miserable.

Everyone: Remember that the only Cry Baby that anyone likes is this one:

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