I do my best to manage my children’s behavior in public places. I always have. I don’t like disturbing others and would feel uncomfortable when my babies cried around other people. Sometimes I’d go out of the room or leave entirely if I sensed they were not going to settle down. I was sensitive to the comfort of others around me and tried to always be considerate. In fact I rarely took my kids to restaurants. Now when I see parents around me struggling with their kids I either try to help or I am tolerant of their cries and shouts. There are many things I find much harder to tolerate in this world than a noisy child in a public place. I don’t witness major melt-downs very often and when I do, I tolerate it. If things were extremely out of control I would just move to a more quiet place.
I would never leave a nasty note for a parent dealing with that situation. I hear some people complain that parents feel ‘entitled’ somehow just because they have kids. I certainly don’t feel entitled in any way because I am a parent. I never felt that because I was a parent I could do what I liked, or my kids could be disruptive and upset other people and that was acceptable. I can’t connect the notion of entitlement with my experience of being a mother at all. In fact, sometimes it feels like the opposite is true.
I don’t approve of the way everyone parents but I am tolerant in these particular situations. A noisy child is not hurting me or my family, friends or community. It might be annoying … but I tolerate it.
This is what freedom looks like to me.
We share our world. Noisy kids are a part of it. The only way they learn how to be in the world is to be in the world. Parents should work with their young children to learn how to be around people and nine times out of ten, that’s what I see parents do when in public places. Sometimes parents don’t react in the way I would to their children’s behavior, and when that happens … I just tolerate it.
I’m just really grateful that I never received a nasty note from people when my kids were small and I struggled at times to quiet them. It would have been soul destroying for me. I guess on the rare times my kids were unruly in public, people around me were tolerant.
Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers.
October 7, 2015