punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

You don't hate kids, you hate rude people

I wanted to share this with you guys, because for some reason, the voices that guide me told me to post this. :-P

I like kids. I do. I love children aged 6-11 especially, because they seem to encapsulate the best and worst of what I like about the human race before they learn to keep that secret. I didn't used to like children. No. I think part of it was I was an only child, an AWKWARD child, and once when babysitting, a psychotic 8-year old stabbed me with a boning knife. On purpose. I was determined by age 18 I'd never have kids. Then I had one anyway, and I feel I am better for the experience. I love CR! :D

I approached much of child rearing like I approached "the real world." Kids, like the real world, are not out to get you. They just don't care. There's a vast difference there. The real world doesn't give a flip about you either, but that also means it doesn't hate you. So life and children come as you take it, and there's no real lesson book, so you can wing most of it with some common sense and sympathy. Treat life and children how you like to be treated, and things should work out... for the most part...

But the reason I posted this was an epiphany I had with a friend about a year ago. She is under the mistaken impression she doesn't like children. But when she told me why, I realized, "Oh... wait... you don't hate CHILDREN, you hate RUDE people, and that's understandable." I mean, if she said she hated short bipeds with knowledge deficits and legume anorexia, then maybe, yeah, she'd hate kids. But she described horrible acting children who, in my experience, are the vast minority. The same goes for adults, and I have seen quite a few rude adults who act like spoiled children. But, like adults, for every rude child out there, there's like 20 quiet and polite kids whom you do not notice because they are quiet and polite.

I know. I worked in retail for 9 years, and I counted. I sold children's furniture for three years, for God's sake.

In this case, this person I gave advice to is kind and a decent friend, and I have seen her with many kids, where she's usually having fun with them because in many ways, she speaks their language. We both agree she should not have kids, but that doesn't mean she can't enjoy the company of other people's kids... providing they are polite.

Many people, and a disproportionate amount of fandom I might add, don't like children. Many have all sorts of terrible advice of what to do with kids when they act rude. Most involve a vague description of violence that shows they think, on some level, Warner Brothers cartoons were moral lessons. "I'd smack, 'em!" I often hear very creative descriptions on what to do with rude children, almost exclusively given by people who haven't had children. Some of them are proud of it, like they have to prove something. "I don't plan to have kids," they say, as if someone else will be taking care of them in their old age. Some are just lazy, and some are crying sour grapes because they can't even get a date, much less breed. But thankfully, those people are a minority, too.

Kids who act out rudely on a regular basis do so because the people in charge of them don't plan well. Either they expect this behavior to be fixed by someone else, or they are too lazy to care. Often kids were a result of being too lazy to plan birth control. Here are some mistakes I see that lead to bad behavior in public:

They think the kid has a long attention span. By the very nature of how kids learn, time is far slower for them than an adult. Remember when 50 minutes was sooooo looooong for class to end when you were in elementary school? Now what's 50 minutes to you? So asking some kid hopped up on the desire to explore and learn to sit still for 20 minutes and do nothing is preposterous. It's like asking an adult to sit still and do nothing interesting for several hours. That's just mean.

They ignore the child. Kids always want attention. Negative and positive attention are the same thing to a kid who doesn't get either. Or only gets negative. I have seen some fannish people with terribly neglected kids. We all have those stories at conventions, especially after a decade or so. Most fannish parents who have decent children either don't bring them, because they know they'd get bored, or include them as part of their fannish community with a close, watchful eye to make sure they don't get into trouble. But a few bring their kids, and then don't pay attention to them. Or control their every move...! Controlling your kids too tightly is a form of negative attention. Your attention becomes a blur of bland commands with little relevance, so they seek positive reinforcement elsewhere. Like in a gang.

They treat kids like a separate part of the family. I see too many people treat their kids like, "My spouse and I, and then there's the kids." Not, "My family consists of 4 people with different, but important, needs." There's no "unit," just, "we're suffering through kids now... man, I can't wait until they move out." Like how people would deal with winter. "It will get better once it's over."

Anyway, there's my 2% of a universal credit voucher.
Tags: childhood, kids, rearing
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