I saw the way you looked at her, and then back at me. Disgusted. Annoyed. You glanced at your friend conspiratorially; your face said, “Why would she bring a child here?” You were genuinely bothered. I imagine you think the best place for her is at home. But not in front of a TV. I know your type; you have a lot of opinions about how other people parent their children. But I already answer to someone else’s needs; I’m not here to police her into stillness and silence for your benefit.
Since you were wondering though, I brought my 2 year old to an art museum for the same reason you and your “I’m too elevated to procreate” bestie with your ironic haircuts and acid wash everything came to this art museum. It was cold, and rainy, and we wanted to get out of the house. We wanted to see art. We are on week 1 of 45 of cold weather here in the Midwest; we’re all just trying not to lose our minds. And you’ll be seeing us around, so get used to it.
Sure, sure she was screaming and running there for a second. It took me a minute to catch up to her, because she is fast… in hindsight, a SkyZone would have been a better choice for that day’s activity, but you know… hindsight…
If tranq guns were legal, I’d use it. You weren’t the first one with that thought. It’d be easier than intentional parenting. Reciting: “no touching, no running, no yelling” didn’t do the trick, but there we were, trying to get some culture with nothing but snacks and empty threats to enforce good behavior: when my kid started acting like a kid. But remind me again why you’re more deserving of a public appearance?
You know, the only thing more annoying than kids, are self-important adults who think they’re the only ones who deserve a seat on a plane, a booth at a restaurant, or a walk on the beach. Fine people of the world, listen up: you have to share. This seems as difficult a concept for you as it is my toddler. But I catch your glances when I’m out, I overhear your conversations at my work, and I see your posts on the Internet. People’s kids annoy you and you’re entitled enough to think you have more ownership over a public space, you think you get to weigh in on parenting from the sidelines.
You think of children the way Trump looks at immigrants. You want them gone, out of sight, and you’d like to forget where you, yourself came from. Have some respect for the process that allowed you to be here. Someone already paid your procreation dues. Yes, hats off to your parents who took one for the team and followed through with you. God knows they deserved a handicap in the game of life.
She’s still new here. Like to the planet. So she’s excitable. And she likely will be for the next few years. Imagine every time you went somewhere, did something, or had a sensory experience it was like showing up to a bar and finding out it’s half off everything. Her life right now is an endless happy hour. She doesn’t understand yet that a lot of people need alcohol to be happy or nice and only get 48 hours a week to do what they want. Let her have this, adulthood is as certain as the long winter.
I used to think my life ended when hers began, now I know it restarted, and it came with a serving of humility. Because my baby is going to cry on your flight, she’s going to stop walking directly in front of you in a busy place, and she’s going to peak over the booth to say hello. It’s not always a reflection of my parenting; it’s the nature of a child. They’re sweeter than us both, and luckily more forgiving. So the next time you see a parent in the midst of a situation larger than what they can control (the entirety of parenthood), offer a hand? Or maybe just smile. Because you look ugly with that joyless judgment on your face. And your haircut is stupid.
Scarlett Longstreet is a stay at home-ish mom, writer, and bartender. She lives in a suburb of Detroit with her husband and daughter. She’s trying to be a slightly less insane parent than her own (low bar). You can read her work at www.spilledmilkclub.com and find her on Instagram (Instagram.com/scarlettLongstreet) and Facebook (Facebook.com/thespilledmilkclub).