Don’t you hate it when someone you think is completely awesome does something that makes you really upset? Yesterday, our friend Dustin over at Pajiba posted a rant about the complaints that people without children make about parents and/or children. And although I think we’re meant to view the post as tongue-in-cheek, it was still way harsh, Tai. Satire’s all well and good, but there was an awful lot of rage in there, and I think any hint of satire flew right over most of the commenters’ heads, bringing up a lot of these same arguments over (and over and over) again. As P-Mag’s resident vocal “non-breeder” (although I prefer “childfree”), I’d like to respond. Since the point of the article seems to be that there can be no civil discourse between parents and non-parents, I’ll do my best to refrain from screeching hyperbole.
The argument is that it’s infuriating when parents are all painted with the same raising-a-shrieking-demon, posting-pictures-of-poop-on-Facebook, self-indulgent brush. So obviously, the best way to respond is by lumping all “non-breeders” (seriously, what is that?) in together.
I’ll just take some individual points here:
“Obnoxiousness on Facebook is not limited to parents; it’s endemic to the entire social network.”
100% agreed. No one post pictures of feces, and we can all be in agreement that Facebook is just pretty terrible in most ways.
“Look, if you see a kid at a restaurant, more times than not, it’s because you’ve chosen to go to a ‘family’ restaurant, and ‘family’ often means loud-mouthed little brats. Parents aren’t taking their kids to nice restaurants because we don’t want to waste our money on something the kid is going to push around his plate, throw at his sister, or complain about. So, if you want to avoid us, go to a nicer damn restaurant or go after the kid’s bedtime.”
Absolutely. Except for those times when we are at a nicer restaurant, we do eat later, and there are still kids running around. Please don’t pretend it never happens. I don’t eat at “family” restaurants, mostly because the food usually sucks, but paying more money is no assurance of any kind of child-free dining.
“Cut us a f***king break and try to remember how you behaved last time you showed up at IHOP at 2 in the morning after 7 Bud lights and asked the waitress if the ‘no shirt’ rule applied to her.”
Yeah”¦ that was never. The last time I was obnoxious in a restaurant, I was probably 17, which is literally half a lifetime ago. Obnoxious people at IHOP at 2 a.m. are usually college students, and many of them are worse behaved than the most tantrum-prone toddler. (Many, not all. Please put away the pitchforks, college kids. Love you!)
“We just paid $7 plus (a very generous) tip for a crappy grilled cheese sandwich so we wouldn’t have to deal with that mess.”
Parents with messy kids are generous tippers? An informal poll of every waitperson ever shows that if you’re a parent whose kid just threw a bowl of spaghetti, a lake of milk, and some unidentified crunchy stuff all over the floor and you leave a good tip, you’re in the vast minority there. Also, most people, when making a mess at a restaurant, make at least a half-assed attempt to clean it up.
“You’re the same person who thinks that having a dog is the same as having a kid. Shut up.”
Until you can crate a child for eight hours when you’re at work, I’m pretty sure most people are clear that the two things are different. I have dogs. Do I think that’s the same as having kids? Nope, because if it were, I wouldn’t have them.
“When you’ve slept in an awkward position on a crappy armchair all night because it’s the only way your sick kid will sleep, or when you’ve changed a sh*tty diaper not once not twice but THOUSANDS OF TIMES and you’ve read the same book four hundred times, sat through countless doctor visits, and fed and cleaned up after a child three times a day for a few years, then you’ve earned the right for parents not to say, ‘You don’t understand.’ Until then, indulge us, OK? If we’re enduring all of this, the least you can do is humor us for one goddamn second and stop making it all about you.”
1) You made the choice. It had consequences. Sorry that some of them suck.
2) We’re the ones making it all about us? OK. Sure thing.
“Plus, do you know how hard it is to find a decent babysitter? Why, so we can go ‘clubbing’ with you? Look: We already did all that, and we found our spouses, and we got married, and we had kids SO WE WOULDN’T HAVE TO DO THAT ANYMORE.”
Oh, calling childfree people irresponsible drunken clubbers. That’s new. The last time I went to a club, Party of Five was still in its first season and Kurt Cobain was still alive.
“Well, how are we supposed to ‘deal with it’? We yelled at the kid, didn’t we? We can’t spank them because you childless hippie liberals have taken that away from us. Oh, ‘time out.’ Yeah, like that works. Should we take away something? Because she’s three, does she really have anything of value? Oh, we should send them to their rooms without dinner? Great idea, if you want child protective services called on you.”
Dude, I don’t give half a fuck how you discipline your child. But don’t act like it’s the fault of the childfree that your avenues of corrective behavior are limited. I’m not even sure how that makes sense. I’m pretty sure parents are more invested in the issue of spanking than the childfree ever will be.
“You know what, imaginary person who is annoyed with all of these things you have to deal with by virtue of being friends with the people who choose, for their own happiness, to continue repopulating the Earth: Either stop hanging out with parents, or stop bitching”¦ You chose your path, we chose ours. We’re all annoying or obnoxious in some respects. We all have complaints or gripes or quibbles. It’s called THE HUMAN CONDITION and it is not exclusive to parents, so get the f**k over yourselves.”
First of all, “to continue repopulating the Earth”? How about you get over yourself? Earth’s population isn’t in any danger of dying out anytime soon, Captain Planet. And yes, everyone is obnoxious in their way, and yes, we all chose our path. The thing is, if you want some respect and patience and latitude in dealing with the results of the path you chose, how about you extend some of the courtesy back the other way around? People who’ve chosen not to have kids are called selfish, immature, lazy party animals who don’t know their own minds, who will never know what real love is, and who have no right to complain about being tired, overworked, or condescended to, because they aren’t doing The Most Important Job In The Worldâ„¢, and it’s a pretty shitty thing to have directed at you for your entire adult life.
All of the choices are valid. Even yours. Even mine. Maybe if we stop pitting parents against non-parents and start pitting people who are assholes against people who aren’t assholes, we’ll stop demonizing each other for our choices. Dustin, dude, I think you’re awesome 99% of the time. Let’s just get our kumbaya-yas out and I’ll buy you a beer and your kids a soda. At a family restaurant. Really early in the evening. And leave a really good tip.