OT: (And, yes, I’m starting a post going off topic) I forget that yesterday was one of my two days I take off from social media and just started tweeting about the restaurant I made for Ian in Cook, Serve, Delicious 2. It’s Boudreau’s Bed & Breakfast, and it only serves foods that begin with the letter ‘B’ (I cheated by including the burger, even though it’s official name is ‘Hamburger’). Biscuits & Gravy, Brisket Slices, Brussels Sprouts (side), and two kinds of Beer. After I went to may taiji class, I realized it was Saturday, and I stopped looking at social media for the rest of the day. I felt bad, but it reminded me how easy it is for me to slip back into my old habits when I’m not paying attention. The restaurant looks really sweet, though:
Here is the menu from the restaurant:
Anyway, I just wanted to note that, but that’s not what the actual post is about
I’ve realized lately that while I’m used to having nontraditional opinions about subjects, I’ve taken to couching them in apologetic terms. I’m not sorry in the least for having these opinions, but I don’t necessarily want to argue about them all the time, either. The problem is, if something is steeped in Americana tradition, any notion to the contrary can seem radical, no matter how softly couched. I read an article by a woman who was child-free about her decision to make her home a no-kids zone, and I read the comments out of curiosity. I thought the article was snarky and a tad rude, but she said straight out that she was having a hard time writing it in a way that would be acceptable to parents. The comments were brutal, and I had to laugh, albeit ruefully, how entitled they all sounded.
Look, I’m not saying you have to be friends with people who don’t want your children in their houses, but realize that your kids aren’t the center of other people’s lives the way they are the center of yours. But, as Bill Hicks said so famously, “They [your children] are not special….Oh, I know *you* think they’re special….I’m just trying to tell you, they’re not.”
He assumes this is the reason he never made it big, and it’s probably part of the reason, but not only is it hilarious, it’s true. Your kids are special to you, but having children is a run-of-the-mill thing that almost anyone can do.
Back to the article. The mothers (and let’s face it. It’s mostly women who are the gatekeepers of proper societal behavior concerning children) were outraged that she would dare to ban their precious progeny from her home. Even some of the child-free women in the comments agreed that she was so harsh! One of the themes was that she must be a stunted woman because there’s nothing as wondrous as the presence of a small child. The pitying tone is obnoxious, patronizing, and downright condescending. I’ve been around small children. Yes, it can be amazing and wondrous, but it can also be boring, frustrating, and irritating. I love Louis CK for many reasons, and on of them is how honest he is about having children. This is a clip about his four-year old and how she’s an asshole because she refused to put her shoes on so they can go out. He rightly pointed out that if one of your friends did that, you’d say he was an asshole.
It’s refreshing to see someone be so open about his frustrations with having children. It’s exaggerated for comedic effect, but it’s a side of parenting that is rarely talked about.
It’s how I feel about being around children for any length of time–TAKE THEM BACK I DON’T WANT THEM ANY LONGER. I learned early on in my “I don’t want children” days that saying anything like that would get me labeled as a misanthrope. The only way it’s acceptable to say you don’t want to have children is if it’s followed by an elaborate explanation as to how you really, really love children but you can’t have them for GOOD REASONS, usually genetic or mental issues-related. I tend to talk about my decision not to have kids in terms of what a bad mother I would have been because I would have screamed for them to get the fuck away from me and not bother me, and then I would have to pay for their therapy for the rest of their lives (true), how my bad childhood has scarred me (also true), but the bottom line is, I didn’t have children because I didn’t want them. I never did, and the thought of having being pregnant disgusted me.
I didn’t want an alien being taking over my body and rendering me nothing more than a vessel for a mutant life. When I hear people talk about the fetus being a parasite, I relate to that. I can take or leave small children, and I much prefer them when they’re older and can interact in a meaningful way. I don’t like it when there are children screaming and throwing tantrums in public, and while I’m constantly being reminded that it takes a village to raise a kid, I would like to remind society that I deliberately chose not to have children. Therefore, I do not want to deal with yours if they are misbehaving.
It’s the same with marriage/romantic relationships. It’s assumed that this is the preferred state add that you’re not really an adult if you don’t do it. I’ve taken to saying I’m bad girlfriend material as a reason I’m not in a romantic relationship (true), but I’m starting to realize (as I’ve written about many times) that I don’t actually want to be in one. I like being alone for the vast majority of the time. I like my space, and I like being able to sing Bon Jovi power ballads at the top of my lungs at three in the morning if I so desire. I don’t want to have to compromise with someone else all the time or discuss every major decision or be identified as one half of a whole.
I’ve been called selfish more times than I care to count for not wanting to have children. While it may be true, I’d rather be selfish in that way than selfish to have them when I don’t want them just to satisfy societal expectations. I think it’s way more selfish to have children because you want a mini-me to carry on your lineage or because you can’t say no to society or because you want to have someone to take care of you when you’re old (actual thing my mother said to me during her years of trying to get me pregnant) or because you want someone to love you unconditionally.
I don’t want to deal with your shitty kids at ten at night in the grocery store when all I’m trying to do is buy my goddamn groceries in peace (which is why I shop at that time in the first place). When I go out to eat in a nice restaurant, I don’t want my night ruined by your kid kicking my booth or whining all night long about not getting any ice cream. When I’m trapped on an airplane, the last thing I want to deal with is your kid running up and down the aisles, careening into my seat. I realize that what I’m describing is kids behaving badly, but there are way too many parents unwilling to stop this kind of behavior, probably out of sheer exhaustion.
Do I sound defensive? It’s because I’m tired of parents who think that their kids should be allowed to do whatever they want whenever they want without any interference. I see a lot of people saying that those of us without children don’t have any right to say anything about their parenting. Fuck that. If your children’s behavior is affecting me, then I have every right. Again, I’d like to differentiate between normal children active behavior and asshole children behavior. I had a kid kick the back of my seat during a Twins game for several innings without their parents doing a damn thing about it. When I finally turned around and told the kid to knock it off (without swearing or being rude), the parents aced as if I had just stabbed their kid.
I accept that as part of a civilized society, I will have to deal with children. It doesn’t mean I have to like it or pretend it’s what I prefer to do. I’ll treat them decently because they’re human beings like anyone else, but don’t expect me to squeal over them if you’re not a family member or a close friend. Also, if I barely know you, I don’t really care if little Johnny is a straight A student, and I certainly don’t need to hear about it for hours on end.
I’m sure many parents reading this will think that I’m being needlessly hostile, but it’s the result of stuffing all these feelings down because they’re verboten to say. I’ve said it before, but one of the strangest reactions I received when I used to say I didn’t want kids was anger from some people who already had them. They thought I was judging them for having children, and I actually had one say to me, ” You must think I’m stupid for having children then.” No, actually. I didn’t think about it at all. Me not having children isn’t an indictment against YOU. I’m not NOT having kids at you; I’m just not having them.
I’ve said it before, though. Any belief that goes against tradition and the status quo is viewed as a personal attack by those who unthinkingly do what they believe to be normal. It shakes the foundation of their beliefs, and instead of introspecting on it, they project it back to the person with the unusual beliefs.
This is my long-winded way of saying what you (general you) perceive as hostility can be instead supreme indifference. I can see why you might mistake the two.