I've been reading Her Bad Mother for a while now and today Catherine has a great post up about how babies are people too. Catherine's argument was that within reason, a parent should be able to take his or her children out in public. It's not a stretch, really. But people do discriminate against children in public. As is evidenced by about 1/2 of the comments on Catherine's blog.
Yes, kids are loud. They touch things. Sometimes they throw tantrums.
I am reminded of my friend Sherry, who used to deal with the stares, by saying to her little boy when he threw a tantrum, "Look Morgan, now you've made everyone STARE at us!" Which had a shaming effect on the audience and people would start to turn away.
You know, sometimes it is my kids who are acting badly in a store. I admit it. Xander is particularly fond of touching things or throwing tantrums in public. Most of the tantrums are caused by me thwarting his efforts for mischief. Or, heaven forbid, me disciplining him by not allowing him to have what his heart desires at that moment because he was badly behaved. And sometimes when he is running amok somewhere, it is just because I have fought 100 battles on that day and have chosen to let him run in the grocery store aisle because I really just cannot fight at that exact moment. Because, really, you do have to chose your battles and a nearly empty grocery store at 2 in the afternoon might not be the one worth fighting that day or that particular hour.
I am constantly shocked at finding out that there are so many judgments. Another friend of mine has 5 kids. They are awesome kids and reasonably behaved. And yet she is judged for having "so many kids". And they go places and do things too, so I cannot imagine the double judgment for not only having the guts to have that many children, but to take them in public too. (insert an eyeroll here at the people who think such things)
So, yes, I take my kids out in public. The shop and they dine out. Often in restaurants where people serve you, rather than fast food where we are supposed to all be segregated until our kids are some magical age.
But on the other hand, I have had people in restaurants tell me how well-behaved my kids are (may I add, on that day). And Xander loves to chat people up at the grocery store, despite his monkey business. (And really, who can blame him: the place is a smorgasbord of things to see, rails to climb on, and then there are the buttons to push to make the groceries come down the little conveyor belt!) But of late he has become helpful and sweet. Even if I am still exhausted at the end of our shopping. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
And although taking my kids in public is sometimes not fun -- who likes to have to remove a screaming child from a store??? I assure you, it is not me! -- more times than not they behave and we enjoy each other's company.
About two weeks ago, I had a clerk tell me how well behaved he was in the grocery store. And I told her it was not always so, but that if I didn't take him, he would never learn how to do it.
This is the biggest lesson of all: I take my kids out because otherwise I will have teenagers who don't know to behave and soon enough they will be adults who have no clue. I tell my kids that I trust them. That they are worthy. And that I believe they CAN do it. And on the days when it turns out they can't do it, I promise them we will try again.
It's a learning experience. For all of us.
Some days, when it is not me toting the screaming child...I look at the mother who has that child, smile and say "it's okay...my kids do it too." There's a sisterhood in that moment. Others have done it for me and it sticks in my head more than the mean, judgmental people. Because above all, it is our jobs as parents to make sure that our children grow up to be productive and respectful members of society. Mean, judgmental people be damned.