There’s a reason that many people with no children feel compelled to hate on the people with children. I’m not saying they’re right but they could be well within a reasonable shot of being right. In the interest of world peace and acting like I’m thinking in my local globe, I’ve compiled an agreement between parents and non-parents. This agreement will be called, “How to Be an Awesome and Upstanding Human Being.” (Working title.)
Let’s start with the basics for those who do own children:
- Your child is special like a snowflake. To you. Not necessarily to those around you. It is not cool when you speak really loudly in hopes of getting complete strangers to notice how cute junior is being. It’s desperate. If they notice, cool. If not, focus on searing your child’s cuteness into your own mind to use a reference when your snowflake is being awful. It is essential, trust me.
- The obvious places for kids to not go are actually places your kid should not be taken to. For instance, movies that are not intended for them even if you really think it’s ok for them to watch. I have no interest in telling you what your child can and cannot watch. Just don’t make me watch it with them. It’s so very hard to block out your child firing off questions about sex and/or violence and then listening to you having “that talk” with them because you’re a supergreat parent and want to be open with them. Also take note: there are family friendly restaurants and there are family unfriendly snooty-pants restaurants. C’mon. Be a sport. I’m rarely let out into the snooty-pants adult world, and when I am, I don’t want to feel like children surround me. Even though your child is a snowflake. (And please – tip your server a little extra when you bring a kid in. They’ll end up cleaning a little extra or managing a little extra or any number of extra things involving children and food. An extra few bucks makes world peace.)
- I know meltdowns are stressful. They are stressful for you, for the kid, and for everyone around you. They are also inevitable. They’ll happen in public. Your job is to manage the temper tantrum, and if you cannot, your job is to get that kid to a more private space. It’s not only a great way to show your child that the behavior is not ok, it’s also a great way to tell your fellow-man that while you love your little snowflake, you understand that they may not. This is a good time to use that image of them being cute (see #1), and wait it out in a car, outside under a tree, or in an alleyway next to a dumpster. Just make it as non-public as you can.
- Stroller etiquette is essential. Simply put, just because you have wheels and precious cargo it does not mean that everyone has to get out of your way.
- Turn your kids video games down in restaurants, subway cars, airplanes or any other place where sound is shared.
Now, on to those who do not own children:
- I love my kid. I’m proud of my kid. My kid is like a snowflake to me. Please don’t sweat me if we are enjoying something together in public, and the laughter, running around or general love is flowing in a raucous way. Stink eye is a total buzz kill.
- If I take my kid somewhere that the obvious demographic includes children, you’ve got to make a little space for my kid to be childish. For instance, the old fart who kept telling Roan to be quiet during an outdoor screening of The Muppets Take Manhattan – you could use a little love in your heart. Possibly you found the plot complicated and hard to follow, but I do believe my son laughing and whooping it up every time Animal was on-screen was right in line with the theme of the night.
- Meltdowns and temper tantrums are super hard-core stressful for me as a parent. I know it’s grating to hear someone’s kid flip out. And while I do my best to handle it, pacify it, redirect it or totally bribe my way out of it, as long as I am trying, you’ve got to give me a few minutes to try to manage it before I pull the plug on whatever we were doing and heading home. Your mad-dogging me does nothing to help. Trust.
- When there’s a stroller involved in my life, could you just make a little room? I know it’s big; I’m the one pushing the giant thing. But there are only so many options, and jet packs for kids have yet to be invented.
So the list is by no means exhaustive but it is a start for peace talks. There are things I remember thinking I’d never do as a parent that I do all the time now that I am a parent. There are things I now see parents do that drop my jaw. I’d love to hear what I missed, on both sides. Leave your ideas for “How to Be an Awesome and Upstanding Human Being” in the comments.