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Kids and the world, can't we all just get along?

Kids_in_public
For some reason I've been reading a lot of people's opinions lately about when, and where, it's "appropriate" to take your children; and how many people, even parents themselves, often wish children weren't around. Earlier this week at a knitting event, Larissa had a particularly ugly run-in with a woman who evidently was in the "children should be neither seen nor heard" camp, and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (who was speaking during the whole brouhaha) weighed in on her blog.

While it was long and, in the Yarn Harlot's particular style, a bit self-effacing and entirely funny, it was also just about the most honest and lovely and graceful statement about how adults and children should interact in public (no matter where or when they are) that I've read in some time. It made me feel a little bit better about the other night, when my two older boys, a little wired from being tired and hungry, crawled back and forth under our table at a neighborhood Mexican restaurant (La Bamba on Powell, where the servers are always lovely and indulgent). They disrupted no one but me and the older couple sitting next to us couldn't have been more generous about it. "We had young children once!" they said gaily.

But I'd just like to quote one bit that was especially wonderful from the Harlot's post, "I believe that children are people. I believe that as people, they have a right to be anywhere that people have a right to be. I also believe that some babies/children/mothers are inseparable and that that is how it should be for them. ... and isn't motherhood hard enough? We've got the only culture on earth - or in the history of humans that actually segregates adults and children, and it's really hard on those of us who have little children who feel in their bones that they should be with their mothers. These mothers then have to choose between meeting the needs of their kids, or missing everything for years and years, and I think that really sucks, and discourages mothers from doing what is right for their particular little one. ... [in the rare occasion a child is disruptive at a public event and mom stays anyway] I understand that it might be the only time she's left the house in two weeks, and leaving the house is really hard, and maybe the only thing standing between her and taking up chewing on sticks from the park as a hobby, and because maybe the first step toward decent child care, maternity leave and ethical treatment of parents and families is actually accepting THAT CHILDREN EXIST and are so far, the only way we have found (despite them being loud, dirty and occasionally too damp for my personal taste) to continue the species." Hear hear.

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As always, nicely stated, Sarah. Oftentimes, we find ourselves on pins and needles when we go out with our kids and apologetic if the boys are acting like typical 5 and 2 year olds. Like when we rode the bus in Victoria and some man rudely got up and made sure it was known that our "rambunctious" kids was the reason for his switching seats. I don't think we'd ever leave the house if our kids were to be seen and not heard. Ever.

"We've got the only culture on earth - or in the history of humans that actually segregates adults and children..."

Hmmm. My impression of history is a little more like this: Man, you go earn the wages, or hunt, or own the property, and make the rules and laws. Woman, you tend the kids and the men when they come home, and then pair off with the guy we tell you to, and then tend his kids.

This may be one of the first times in history that women have been able to spend time "segregated" from children.


Beautifully put, Sarah.

You do make an excellent point, catmom. But I think that the reference was actually to the segregation of adults and children, not women and children.

I was 5 years in Italy and a year in Spain, and Honduras... And I truly miss going into bars and having children dodging between my legs... Or passing around a baby...Or, when it's your round, you are buying some whiskey, some wine and some ice cream for the kiddos.

I love much about my homeland. But we have more personal space than anybody else and are the least gracious about sharing it.

Most all cultures are based on the community. But our forefathers forsake that community in search of a frontier. And it seems to reflect in our cultural values.
And since Families are little communities..

When we were in Europe earlier this year I was pleasantly surprised by some of the places we brought our kids, and how genuinely welcome we felt with them... In Spain we took them to some fairly spendy restaurants and no one said a word when we walked up to get a table. At one restaurant, we stood outside looking at the menu and wondering out loud if it was appropriate to bring the kids in. We asked the host if it was a kid-friendly place, he looked at us like we were crazy and said, "of course, why wouldnt it be?!" It worked out well, we had a great meal and everyone was very accomodating.

The really amazing thing though, was when we were back in Norway and went in to the Parliament to visit my father in law...There we sat with our 6 month old baby in the cafe, among some key politicians giving interviews to the press! I was terrified but everyone smiled as we walked in and no one even looked at us sideways... I think that would never happen in DC!

I wholly agree with you on this, Sarah. I think the trouble comes, for some (there are always going to be those that just don't like children), when there isn't judgement about the difference between happy kid noises and corralling the wild things. I know I am so guilty of assuming that my children are always amazing and can do no wrong and sometimes miss that their behavior really is bordering on behavior that we just can't do in certain places, child or not. Or behavior that is okay in one place but not in another.

We were at the Multnomah Art Center recently and all the other kids are walking with their moms in the hall, mine are running up and down the ramp. Of course, I'm looking at them and beaming with pride at their enthusiasm for life. But really, should they be running through the halls of the building even though it's morning and the place it taken over by small children this time of day? Sometimes I'm just not sure. But, goodness know if anyone had said anything to me about by angels running in the hall, we would have been meeting in the parking lot later!!!

There is a certain newly opened restaurant in my neighborhood where the owner openly stated that he will not sit anyone with kids under 6yrs old. I've decided to boycott the place. I know that restaurants can "refuse service to anyone" but to not even seat a family because some memebers may be uner 6 years old is crazy to me. Maybe it is even illegal, I don't know. The place is not ritzy or super expensive, jsut some glorified mexican food.

I can't imagine why anyone would not expect to see children at a knitting hootenanny. Seriously?

I just go by a general rudeness standard. Today I was at a conference and there was a woman who was on a cell phone right outside the room. She was loud, drowning out the speaker.

My daughter went through phases where she could go ANYWHERE and phases when she was a terror even at Applebees. We adjusted accordingly. And some folks yelled at us anyway sometimes cause they were jerks.

some people without kids are jerks. some people with kids are jerks. Unfortunately, the non-jerks get caught in the crossfire.

I'll trade ya a surly, silent teenager for cuddly, toddling cherub.

nysa-- What restaurant? I want to boycott it too!

lea-the place is romos latin quarter in montavilla, a few doors down from the most kid friendly place around....Bipartisan Cafe :)

Nysa-- That is my neck of the woods. I've never been.
Luckily, there is the Country Cat, if you are feeling fancy, or Flying Pie, when you are not. They are both friendly all around. But the Country Cat has been great, (even when our daughter was overtired and threw her plate on the floor!)

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