As it becomes more common for people to put off or entirely avoid having children, I’ve noticed a growing one-sided animosity directed at those who do.
On one hand, I feel validated and less alone hearing from others like me who aren’t interested in having kids now or possibly ever.
On the other, I’m disappointed that our power in increasing numbers is so casually manifesting as snarky aggression towards kids (and the parents who created them) daring to enter our kid-free bubbles.
Uptown after 10 o’clock on a Friday night is certainly not an appropriate scene for a toddler, but that’s where I landed myself with my 3-year-old niece a few weeks ago.
We’d invited her to come have a sleepover and ended up getting wrapped up running under the waterfalls at Romare Bearden Park, mixing up our own Slurpee with all the flavors at 7-Eleven and eating pizza at Mellow Mushroom — all, arguably, kid-friendly activities.
Before I knew it, we had found ourselves under the Firebird and the gaze of disapproving bar-hopping fellow adults well after her appropriate bedtime.
I get it. I’d raise an eyebrow too if I saw a 3-year-old trying to hail a pedicab at 10:30 p.m. on Tryon.
For me, our Friday night on the town was a harmless one-off exception to the rule so we could have fun in a setting I can certainly agree wasn’t the best choice but wasn’t really hurting anyone either.
To onlookers, I’m sure it was viewed as an irresponsible disruption in an adult-only zone. As a temporary guardian playing the role of “cool aunt” for a night here and there, I can shrug that off.
But for parents who face the same judgmental glares in far less controversial settings at far more appropriate hours with their kids in tow — at the grocery store, in a restaurant or at the airport, for example — I imagine it gets old fast.
Everybody has an opinion about where and when kids should and shouldn’t be allowed places.
When we write on the topic of kids, particularly whether or not kids should be in breweries, we’re met with an onslaught of cringe-worthy aggressive feedback letters from disgruntled adults.
It’s horrifying, really.
“If I see your kid throwing rocks in a public place where adults are trying to relax and enjoy an ADULT beverage, I will throw a rock straight back in his face.”
“I’ll trip your little crumb snatcher if it keeps running into me or running by my table every thirty seconds.”
“If you want to shove crotch fruit out of your hoo-ha, more power to you! But my dog and I will continue to judge the heck out of you when you bring your fresh humans to breweries and allow them to throw rocks at people, dogs, and in water buckets.”
Sidestepping the debate itself (I don’t have kids or hang out in breweries so it’s a wash for me), it’s the immature entitled rage in these responses that I find so frustrating and, frankly, embarrassing.
Personally, I prefer hanging out with kids over adults any day and am thrilled when a rogue one shows up in an adult setting, as they’re an excellent distraction from forced small talk.
I also know that they can, at times, be an absolute nightmare to be around. They’re unpredictable and exhausting and tough to reason with. It’s part of why I don’t have any of my own.
But here’s the thing — kids are going to do kid things and they’re going to do them unpredictably and at inopportune times. Some of those things are cute and entertaining and some of those things are maddening. The cool thing about being an adult is you possess the emotional maturity to let it go if you so choose, especially if it’s something as insignificant as picking up rocks or approaching your table.
And you should. Because the only thing worse than a kid throwing a temper tantrum is a grown adult throwing a reciprocal tantrum over a kid’s presence.
So grow up.
Pockets of Charlotte’s social scene seem to struggle to emotionally mature out of college — a time when everyone was roughly the same age, on the same schedule and moving through the same major milestones.
Out here, everyone is moving in different directions and that can be jarring for some.
So while you might view a local business as a frat house where you can puke in the bushes without some menacing two-year-old giving you the side eye, someone in a different life phase who is equally as entitled to the space as you are might see it as a family-friendly place for an afternoon food truck picnic.
They shouldn’t be attacked for that decision any more than you should be attacked for acting like a fifth-year senior on a post-finals bender.
My husband and I know we aren’t ready for kids right now.
After dropping my niece off after our sleepover, we had The Kid Talk one more time and agreed that NOPE, it’s definitely still not for us. But our not wanting kids doesn’t mean we don’t like them or that your having them is a burden to us.
I hate when I can feel parents’ stress and embarrassment when they’re trying to tiptoe around other adults while they’re out just existing with their kids. And I hate that the Mailbag responses we published make it sound like you and your family are unwelcome anywhere.
So I’ll say this: You’re not in my way and, although not everyone agrees, your kids really don’t bother me.