UPDATE – In light of this article about a diner owner in Maine who snapped at a baby girl, this needs to be repeated:
We’re going to be in your malls. We’re going to be in your restaurants. We’re going to be in front of you (and behind you) at the supermarket. We’re going to be in your way. You may have to wait while we find keys, a wallet, or buckle in before backing out of our parking space.
You’re going to have to learn not to vulture a family with kids in a busy parking lot. Not sorry.
We’re going to annoy you on your morning jog, at the beach, on a mountaintop, at your favorite spot by the ocean, at the bandstand, at the campground. You’re going to have to hear us at the post office, at the bank, at the ballgame. Sometimes you might smell something, too.
You’re not going to like what we do or don’t do regarding discipline. You’re not going to like the way we use technology, pharmaceuticals, and promises. You may think you know better. You don’t. You may think we need your advice. We don’t.
You’re not going to agree with how old or young our kids are before we let them do things you’d never allow. You can rant all you want about how it was when you were a kid. You can rant all you want about how parenting is a lost art and kids these days are wilder than ever.
You can judge all you want. Parents know the first gift they’ll receive is the judgment of others. The judgment of the ignorant.
Even parents will judge each other, oblivious that the parents they harshly judged at CVS will be judging them at Dunkin’ Donuts minutes later. Their kids are not your kids. Their family is not your family. Their situation is not your situation, yet everybody thinks they’re more expert than everyone else.
That’s why you’re going to have to deal with it.
It’s not like parents always know exactly what they’re doing. It’s not like parents don’t judge themselves and second-guess their own decisions. But we’re way ahead of the situation compared to you.
And no, we’re not ‘just going home’. We’re not keeping the kids indoors until they’re 21. We, like you, need to shop for groceries. We, like you, need to visit a department store. We, like you, need to get fresh air and enjoy nice weather. We, like you, need to appreciate art and culture. And we’re going to do it during business hours.
Sometimes we let the kids stay up too late. Sometimes we let them play video games and watch TV. Sometimes we let them eat Oreos for breakfast. And sometimes we let them run wild at the playground.
Sometimes we pick them up and soothe every scrape, bump and bruise. Sometimes we tell them to toughen up. Sometimes we teach them manners when their soccer ball invades your picnic. Sometimes we forget. Sometimes we notice your furrowed brow. Sometimes we ignore you purposely.
Sometimes they’ll interfere with your dog. Sometimes they’ll wreck something you value. Sometimes they’ll actually do something that harms you or yours. Sometimes we’ll know what to do when that happens. Sometimes not.
That’s your opportunity to make your judgment known, so go ahead. We’ll take it under advisement.
But too loud at the park? In your way at a supermarket? Too slow in a mall? Too much time on an iPad? Too wild at the beach? Too ungrateful? Too forgetful? Too impolite? Too sensitive? Too sure of themselves?
That’s what they are. They haven’t been here very long yet. They’re kids, and they’re just learning how to share their world with you.
Oh, you thought it was yours?
It’s not. You’re just going to have to deal with it.