People without kids are going to have to deal with the fact that my kids might sometimes ruin their day

On occasion, children have been known to get out of hand. And on occasion, nearby people have been known to remark, or give the stink eye, especially if those nearby people have chosen not to have kids, or have raised their kids so long ago that they’ve completely forgotten the fact that on occasion their kids weren’t the perfect angels they remember them as.

This hasn’t happened to me, mind you, because my children are perfect angels. And also because I have a terrible scowl that is so fierce, judgmental people instinctively know that they can keep their judgement to themselves. And also because judgmental people are usually (but not always) wise enough to save their disapproval for a time when they are safely away from any kind of real confrontation (by which I mean the Internet).

So I have heard some general grousing about children ruining things. Everything. Meals at restaurants, movies, walking in the park, etc. (True story, last weekend Oliver screamed so loud in the bathroom at Meijer that people were forced to flee without washing their hands. My children even ruined hand washing!) And even more than that, I can assure you that I’ve *imagined* more complaining about my kids than all of the actual complaining about kids that has ever taken place put together.

I suppose there might be actual parents out there who really are clueless about what their kids are doing, ignoring them as they run circles around the restaurant, screaming at the top of their lungs, knocking people’s food off their plates, etc. (or at least that’s the way the pearl-clutching old ladies will tell the story to their church group or whatever when they get home) But speaking for the rest of us, I can assure you that we are absolutely mortified by bad behavior, even if we are pretending nonchalance as we hastily wolf down our meal and try to collect our stuff as fast as possible so we can get the hell out of there, crawl into a hole, and die.

As a parent, I try so hard to make sure my kids behave. I feel awful when my kids are awful. I think we do about as well as is physically possible to do, and yet despite our best efforts, on occasion they still cause trouble. Sometimes the kids still shriek at 5 a.m. in a hotel room because they can’t agree on who should get to use the remote like a pretend phone first. Sometimes they still make trouble at a restaurant because they didn’t get the right crayon color, or we forgot to let them order for themselves, or they didn’t have “the right kind of french fries”.

But here’s the thing: all of that is part of learning how to behave.

It could be argued that it’s not fair that my kids are ruining your experience, that my choice to have kids is interfering with your choice to not have kids. I suppose there is some merit to that. However, if you make that argument, then you can’ t complain about how awful kids are these days, or how society is going to hell in a handbasket. Because we’re trying to be good parents, and trying to make our kids into good, respectful people. We’re trying to teach them how to behave. And when you’re learning something, you don’t always get it right the first time (believe it or not, our kids get it right more often then not, and when they don’t, it’s my fault for misjudging the level of tiredness/hungriness/orneriness in the first place).

If we hide in a bunker, never exposing our kids to the real world, then they’re going to end up as weirdo degenerate sub-humans who don’t know how to act in public, or interact with the real world. And ultimately, that’s going to end up disrupting your life a lot more than this one dinner.

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