I have a few friends who are parents of the coolest kids in the world. Kids that I love to hear about and kids that I love to talk to. Kids who are fully-realised people in their own right, who have been allowed by their parents to be the people they are and not the souvenir the parents want them to be.
As more and more of my friends and acquaintences have had kids, there are more and more well-raised, neat kids in the world. Because more often than not the people I know are raising people. Maybe it’s because the people I know are writers, bloggers, or other insightful folks.
I do not hate children. Nor do I love them. I love people, not really taking their ages into account. If I like you it doesn’t matter if you are 16months old or 76 years old. I like YOU for YOU. To say that I like or dislike children is like saying I like or dislike “food” or “places” or “things”. It’s too broad a category to smooth over.
A few weeks ago one of my friends–a parent of some of those neat little people–linked to a blog entry from Cafe Mom called “Meanest Baseball Fans Ever Rob Little Boy of Ball & Then Gloat About It.”
You can watch the video for yourself; the upshot of it is that a player threw a ball into the stands and the man who caught it was sitting next to another man who had a little boy on his lap. The man who caught the ball holds it up in triumph with a smile on his face and then hands it to the woman sitting next to him so he can take a picture of her posing with said baseball. During all of this the kid is bawling his eyes out because he didn’t catch the ball himself.
The chatter in the world of Moms seems to lean heavily to the favour of the kid. Apparently the general agreement is that the man should have given the little boy the baseball because…he’s a little boy? A little boy who is crying? I don’t know. Basically it’s that the kid has a right to the ball because he’s a kid.
And that sort of attitude really bugs me. I know that most parents would do anything for their kids, make any sacrifice for their child’s happiness. And that’s laudable for the most part, because that means that kids eat well, get good educations and can get their teeth fixed. But the entire world does not revolve around your child. And your child’s chronological status doesn’t earn them some grand entitlement. You don’t deserve better restaurant reservations at Disney World because of your 8 year old. You don’t deserve the last of a valuable toy at Christmas because of your 7 year old. And your kid doesn’t deserve a baseball he didn’t catch just because he’s a little kid who is crying.
Everyone has a story. Maybe the man who caught the ball was there with his wife who just beat breast cancer. Maybe he was on his honeymoon. Maybe he wanted to go to baseball games when he was a kid but his father was an alcoholic who wouldn’t take him so he grew up, got a job and bought his own ticket to the game where he finally caught the ball he’d wanted since HE was four years old. You just never know. Kids are people. Adults used to be kids. Sometimes the adult you see getting something you think your kid should have is someone who never had an indulgent childhood and is working their way to happiness as an adult.