*Note: This post is a few years old. The picture is from Dec. 2014 and was not the original picture from this post.
You know those kids that obey their parents, immediately? The ones that know when to be seen and not heard, and when to be charming and outgoing? The ones that would never even think of throwing a temper tantrum in the grocery store or crawling under a table at a restaurant?
Yeah, those aren’t my children.
I don’t want you to get me wrong. My kids are great. I adore them, and you would too… if you met them on a good day. They’re attractive and healthy, bright and sweet, funny and friendly. But on a bad day…
I have a teenager. He can be rude. Talk back. Make inappropriate jokes or sounds.
I have a six year old. She’s headstrong and LOUD.
I have a four year old.. He’s curious, into everything. He likes to go places he shouldn’t, and touch things that he shouldn’t. He’s also loud.
Sometimes I don’t understand them. Me, when I was a kid? I was one of those kids I was talking about in the beginning. My mother could take me anywhere with no fear that I would embarrass her. She could get things done, because I stayed put when I was told to. My life as a parent is nothing like my mother’s.
I’m much luckier than she was.
There’s a look that you get from parents of well behaved children, or from people without children, when your children are… shall we say… spirited. That look that says, “why can’t you control your brood?” The look that says, accusingly, “bad mom”. Parents of children like yours may give you a sympathetic look while you’re struggling to get your preschoolers to put his shoes back on, already, at the dentist’s office or arguing with your teen outside the post office. But even they expect you to hang your head in shame, to give that little look in return that says, “sorry. I know. I suck.”
But you know what? I refuse. I refuse to apologize for having children who behave like children. Who have strong personalities. Who sometimes just screw up.
Again, don’t get me wrong. I believe in discipline. I’m not interested in letting my children run wild. When they act up, I address it. Sometimes that means leaving where ever we happen to be at the time – act up at the park, and you’re going home. Sometimes that’s not possible or feasible, so it may mean time out once we get home, or a loss of privileges, or extra chores. How exactly I handle it isn’t important, the point is that I do.
Recently, I’ve grown tired of people’s complaints about children. Not mine, specifically, (really, we don’t get out that much anyway), but children in general. And I’m also tired of complaints about parents. If a child in an airport excitedly (and loudly) exclaims over the wonder of airplanes and isn’t immediately shushed, there’s suddenly a full-on debate on Facebook about whether the mother was horrible for allowing her child to disturb the other travelers. If a kid wanders away from his table at a restaurant, the next day that kid and his parents will be the subject of heated debates on the mommy boards.
Here’s the thing: Some people are always a pleasure to be around. Some people are always a pain to be around. Most of use have our good days and our bad days. And that applies to children – and parents – as well. Sometimes adults annoy me. I don’t expect to be able to spend a lot of time out in public and never be annoyed by another human being. That’s just life. And I refuse to be ashamed when my kids act like human beings as well.
Don’t worry. I’m not going to let my kids run wild through the mall. But I’m also not going to hang my head if the screech when I stop them from running. I’m not going to hide my face when one of them gets a case of the “I wants” in Walmart. Hell, I want stuff too, and I think it sucks when I can’t have what I want as well. Learning to deal with that is a process. Sometimes a noisy one. Too bad. This is normal. This is how kids act, and how they learn. I’m their parent, and this is how I teach. And we have as much right to be in public places as anyone.
My kids are awesome, even on their bad days. I love that they don’t hide their needs and wants and thoughts and fears from me behind picture perfect behavior. I love that they know who they are and what they want at such early ages. I love that they’re not embarrassed to have bad days yet. That time will come soon enough. You don’t have to love it, when you see us out and about on one of those days. But you can save your dirty looks. I don’t need them. I can handle my kids, and you can be assured that I will. What I won’t do is be ashamed of them or of me. We’re only human, and I’m fine with that.