When strangers sigh, or roll their eyes because my child has dared to exist in the same universe as them. Or when my kid runs in front of someone or lets out a blood curdling shriek within their earshot and I get the look. You know *the look*, I can't help but feel that I want to reach out to the stranger in question and caress their scowly self-important know-it-all, judgmental face with my fist. Repeatedly.
Some guy and his girlfriend were about to embark upon their grocery shopping at Tesco this afternoon when they were rudely and shockingly delayed by approximately five whole nanoseconds whilst Toby whooshed in front of the guy as he reached to take a basket.
The reason he was whooshing in such an uncontrolled teeny tiny hooligan way (under direct parental supervision) was because he had just remembered he'd left his new lego toy on the floor of the passport photo booth near the tills.
This guy gave Toby a look like he had just stomped on his puppy's face, and then me a look like my son had just stomped on his puppy's face, and then gave his girlfriend (who appeared unaffected by the whole incident) a look like "Can you believe these fuckers are allowed to share the same planet as us?!"
Right there and then I wanted to shoot laser beams out of my eyes and impregnate his girlfriend using the power of my fucking mind and then magically fast forward 2 or 3 years and say "Sorry, what was that look again? I didn't quite catch it"
Oh yeah, it's all so easy when you have all of the answers and none of the responsibilities.
Trouble is, it's not (wholly) this guys fault. We live in a society in which children are seen as a lifestyle choice. An inconvenience to everyone, something to be 'overcome' with discipline, baby sitters and school, from an early an age and with as long hours as possible.
They are the sole responsibility of their parents at all times, but on the flip side, if after devoting your body, life and soul to creating one of these little creatures you dare to be proud of your accomplishment then you're likely to get a faceful of scorn in return for boasting/"one-up-manship" or just generally, taking up people's valuable (adult) time talking about what is essentially your little selfish hobby. Not to mention clogging up your friends' timelines with photos of your adorable little rugrat.
Now I'm only going to say this once motherfuckers so listen hard and listen good. Children are not a hobby.
Cross-stitch is a hobby.
If you want to learn cross-stitch, good for you! If you're a close friend or family member I might be persuaded to be happy you've found something you're passionate about. But at the end of the day it's your thing, and it has no impact on me or the rest of the world, unless you become like a famous, world-reknowned cross-stitch-er and change people's minds and hearts with your cross-stitch talents. In which case, wow.
It was indeed my choice to have children but that still doesn't make them my indulgent passtime a la cross-stitch.
Like or not, you too were all children once. And noisy, precocious, snot-fulled little fiends you probably were too. And look at you now, why you're positively human!* (*In most cases)
"What now?! Children are people too?!" I hear you exclaim, "well who'd have thought it?!"
Well, err...me, for one. Raising two young boys is not my end-goal, I am raising two men.
The reason you should give a shit about children, even if you're not one and don't have any and never plan to, is because what impacts children and families impacts society as a whole, after all, children are the future. No really, they are.
My little snoogly-boos* (*I have never actually called them that in their lives) that are pissing you off so royally by scamping around the supermarket yelling at the top of their lungs or spilling their juice all over themselves whilst you're trying to have a civilised business lunch at the next table, or whose adorable little chops are gracing your Facebook feed every other day, are in fact going to be the doctors, lawyers, teachers, politicians, scientists, bartenders, writers, actors, musicians, artists, mechanics, sportsman, plumbers, boyfriends, husbands, and potentially fathers of the future.
So you might just wish they'd be quiet, and get out of your way, or learn some table manners and you may think their existence has fuck all to do with you but if you give even one eighth of a shit about life, society or the planet on which we live, then actually, I'm sorry to say- it does.
How a society views and takes care of it's mothers, fathers, parents, families and children is important because they're necessary for that society to continue to exist. And more than that, more than existence, we know that so much of what we become as adults starts from childhood. What we eat, what we think, how we relate to people, our health, our beliefs it all begins with family. For better or worse. What family looks and feels like is different for everyone, and unfortunately it isn't always pretty, but that's all the more reason to care. The things that hurt children the things that hurt families, they hurt us all. The things that support and nurture children, parents and families, benefit us all.
Now I'm not asking for royal treatment. I don't need, nor wish for a red carpet rolling out every time I decide to grace the aisles of my local Tesco with the presence of myself and my kids. I don't want my children bowed and pandered to.
I just want you to treat them like people. Because they are.
Sometimes they're noisy, messy, tiring, unreasonable people. But jeez, they have been on this earth for all of about five minutes. Those of us who have been here a little longer than that, so understand concepts like the "rules of society", delayed gratification and "indoor voices", would perhaps do well to remember that we weren't always so together and we didn't always have such a firm grasp of what the fuck is going on in this crazy world (erm, still don't!) and as such maybe consider sometimes giving those smaller, and less worldly wise than us the benefit of the doubt and, while we're at it, laying off the judgmental looks too, because one day bitches, I'm going to get me some of those lasers, and then you'll be sorry. Mark my words.