Is it me, or are people in general becoming more intolerant of small children? And not just small children, but moms with small children.
Perhaps it’s the *hide-behind-your-keyboard* syndrome of saying anything you want but I’m seeing a lot of posts on Facebook and Twitter especially from people who clearly think children should NOT be seen and definitely NOT heard.
Now, I’m old school and I like it when parents have control of their kids. I’m the mom who has walked out of a grocery store with a full cart ready for the cashier when all hell broke loose and the animals left their cages. I have told my kids I won’t put up with temper tantrums and ridiculous outbursts in stores or restaurants. In fact, there was a season in our lives where we rarely went out to eat because I fully believe the other patrons have a right to eat their meals in relative peace.
However, recently there have been a rash of reports and stories of restaurants implementing adult-only dinner hours or even some that are exclusively adult only restaurants. I’m not saying I wouldn’t go there but this is a trend that may not be all that family friendly. (which is probably the point) Of course, businesses have a right to cater to whomever they wish. And I’m all for the market deciding who wins and who loses.
But what about walking in malls? Or grocery shopping on Saturdays when it’s busy? Or perhaps even home shows and exhibit halls? Should there be a ban on any child under 7? Should strollers be banned? This is some of the complaining that I am seeing and hearing about. People who don’t have children are becoming more vocal about their dislike of little people *ruining* their days off. They don’t want to go to parks and hear a wailing toddler. They don’t want to go to Starbucks and stand in line behind a mom with a baby on her hip. They don’t want to enter the bookstore if there’s a mom with a stroller heading in right in front of them. And I find it all a little baffling.
Since when did children become enemies? Perhaps these anti-child Debby-Downers have forgotten that they too, were once children. Perhaps they have failed to see that children are our future. Maybe they don’t realize that if Mama doesn’t get to go to the bookstore today, she might be housebound and depressed all week. And maybe they’re completely oblivious to the fact that small children don’t grow up to be well-behaved older children and teens unless they are given the opportunities and the freedom to be in all the big-people restaurants, stores and events. A child doesn’t just wake up at the age of 12 and know how to act in public. They are taught. They are allowed to fail and they are given grace to learn from their mistakes and outbursts.
The tone of the conversation I was a part of yesterday on Twitter took direct aim at parents with double wide strollers out in public. Specifically, a crowded exhibit hall on the weekend apparently was the site of such strollers with too many people and some put-out show goers. Some of the comments were directly bashing a parent’s choice to go out with their two little children to a place where “the kids couldn’t possibly be having fun.” And the “selfishness” of parents to not consider a crowded aisle and how inconvenient it was for the browsers. First of all, if you haven’t had 2 little kids under 3 and haven’t been out with them for more than an hour, you probably aren’t the best judge of what is convenient. As for the concept that 2 parents want to spend time out together at a SPRING HOME SHOW on a weekend after one of the longest, snowiest, coldest winters ever and take their kids with them as being wrong is frustrating and frankly, offensive. I remember a time when I had my first 2 (13 months apart) and they LOVED going out just to look at people and get a change of scenery. We didn’t have family where we lived and we couldn’t afford a sitter. And truthfully, we wanted to spend time with our kids out and about together. With Daddy working all week and me housebound, these were rare, fun occasions. We didn’t do it all the time. We didn’t assume we could go anywhere with our kids. We usually chose the roomy sidewalks of a park, a big mall or large department stores. If an exhibit hall or showcase or event wants to limit the size of strollers or even ban them, I’m actually fine with that. But if they haven’t, step aside. Mama is a-comin’.
I’m sure there are small strollers that are relatively cheap. I’m sure there are double income families who can afford 2 or 3 strollers. We were not that family. Our stroller was a gift. And I used it through 4 children.Our first 2 were 13 months apart, then 2.5 years between #2 and #3 so we used it again. And then my last 2 were 20 months apart. It was well worn out by the time I retired it. We didn’t have family who could look after our kids whenever we wanted to go out and even if we did, I would still not dump my kids off every time I left the house. I loved our double stroller and so did our kids. I could reach them both while still pushing(as opposed to a tandem where you simply can’t reach the front).
I’m all for a quiet dinner out. But I always give the mom and dad with toddlers in the booth next to us a knowing smile and the encouragement they need to understand they’re not alone and “this too shall pass.” Babies and toddlers grow up so fast and no, I don’t think they or we are entitled to go everywhere and do everything. I believe there is a time and a place for outings and most of the time, little ones are happier at home. However, to extract one incident and blow it up into a *double strollers should be banned or left for the dog park* philosophy is overkill and unfair to moms who simply want to have a day out with their family.
You know what’s annoying? The fact that I have pics of my kids in our fantastic double stroller and I can’t find a single one today! So here’s one off the ‘net which is identical to the one we had(except ours was circa 1996 with a brighter blue).