Sunday, January 30, 2005

I Beg Your Patience (In A Ranty Way)

People with children are sometimes an inconvenience to those who are—for whatever reason—child-free. Once, on a flight from Calgary to Vancouver, the spousal unit and I (still in our dating phase) had the back of our seats kicked non-stop by a kid who looked to be about six years old. After an hour without any attempt by his mother or father to stop his behavior, we did what we would never do now that we are parents: we went a little ugly-American on the family. "He's just a kid!" the mother yelled in defense.

She was right. But she was wrong not to at least attempt to curb his zealous feet. The burden lays on the parents, and believe me, most of us know it. Which is why I do my best to cause little or no hiccups when out with the kids. It is why we lie outright to our children, inventing vaguely menacing characters like Good Manners Guy and The Green Witch, both of whom I'm sure I've discussed here before. Heaven forbid anyone think badly of my children or—perhaps even worse, I'll admit—badly of my mothering.

Because of the extent I go to avoid taxing those who are taxed even by the sight of kids (you're so easy to spot; you may as well have a flashing neon sign over your heads), I am often shocked by the impatience I am occasionally met with. Like in a parking lot when the person in the space next to mine wants to pull out, and screams—screams!—at me to shut my door even when they can plainly see I'm making sure my child is secure in her carseat. Well, you know what? Nine times out of ten, I do shut the door. Nine times out of ten, I am hyper-vigilant of whether or not my very existence is annoying someone. Of course, that's a ridiculous thing to try to explain to the person screaming at me. But still.—Don't effing scream at me. You're dealing with stuff, I'm dealing with stuff. The least we can do is be polite.

This seems like a good place to inject that once, when passing by two late twenty-something women, I heard one whisper, "Oh, look. She breeds." I wanted desperately to whip her Ambercrombie & Fitch ass, but that would have undermined most of our "Use your words, not your fists," work. So I turned the other cheek, even while I was mentally flipping her off. Breeder? How rude is that?

I'm reading this book (quite amazing, so far), and it points out that today a woman could conceivably (a pun! a pun!) engineer her life to be lived in almost complete isolation from children, whereas women used to exist in "dense webs" of female relationships that made that type of isolation impossible, even if you wanted it.

So...until you exhibit that you are friend, not foe—like with a smile, say, or a return of the greeting that my kids will inevitably offer—I'm going to assume you're one of the isolationists. And I beg your patience.

No comments: