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Parenting a Toddler: It Gets Better…. Right?

Last week, I posted a link to an essay about the “joys” of raising a toddler. Specifically, the essay was a defense of parents who get the side-eye from strangers when their toddlers act… well, like toddlers, in public. After I got home from my grandfather’s funeral on Friday evening, I had a chance to read through some of the comments that essay inspired (comments left on this site, I should say, not the original source), and I was surprised and kind of disappointed by what I read. There was an implication — a pretty explicit implication, actually — that bad behavior = bad parenting. There was also an implication that if a person had younger siblings growing up or has friends with kids or works in a place that kids frequent, then that person knows what it’s like to raise a toddler. Wrong.

If you aren’t a parent or a teacher or a nanny or some other adult who is with the same children for an extended period of time day after day after day for months and months, you really have no idea what you’re talking about. You just don’t. Hell, I’d even go so far as to say that even if you ARE a parent, but it’s been more than ten years since you parented a toddler, there’s a good chance you’ve forgotten just what it’s like to be around a two-year-old for hours and hours every day. That shit is HARD. Toddlers are fucking BONKERS. Parenting an almost two-year-old — a rambunctious, precocious, all-boy two-year-old — is the most exhausting, challenging, nerve-racking, rewarding thing I’ve ever done. And if you haven’t done it yourself, you really don’t know what it’s like. I don’t care if you had a little brother ten years younger growing up or you work in a Walmart where lots of families with little kids go shopping or you spent a couple summers babysitting your neighbor’s toddler son when you were in high school. None of that truly prepares you for the front line of parenting a two-year-old.

I’m a good parent. Both Drew and I are really good parents. We read to Jackson all the time and talk to him constantly and feed him healthy foods and plan lots of activities and outings we think he’d enjoy. We play with him and spend lots of time outdoors and take him on train rides and help him foster friendships. We don’t over-indulge him. He isn’t spoiled. His toy-count is limited, as is his TV-viewing. We love him so, so much and he knows it. He is well-cared for and safe. He is a very happy child. He is also a colossal pain in the ass sometimes. I mean, he’s a toddler.

I spend a ton of time with toddlers these days and, while their personalities and temperaments vary, I don’t know one toddler or parent of a toddler who doesn’t admit to the occasional tantrum. Some kids throw more tantrums than others, and some are more public. I happen to have a toddler who throws a lot of tantrums (he also has a lot of personality). He screams and cries and pulls hair and pinches and kicks and hits. And that’s just how he treats ME on a given morning when I’m trying to get him dressed for the day. I’d love to say this bad behavior is isolated to the mornings in his bedroom, private and out of view of judgmental eyes and ears. But it’s not. Jackson behaves this way in the grocery store, in the coffee shop, on the playground, in the stairwell. I have been embarrassed and ashamed more times than I can count because I see those side eyes when he has a normal meltdown and I know people are thinking I’m to blame (or, worse, that there’s something really wrong with my child).

Sometimes I think I’m to blame. Even though I know I’m a really good parent, I sometimes wonder why my kid isn’t really good all the time. What’s wrong with him that he’d slap me across the face? In public? I wonder. (True story). What did I do wrong that he would behave that way? Do I not love him enough? Do I not set enough boundaries? Do I set too many? Should I be giving him more time outs? Fewer time outs? Different kinds of time outs? Am I too easy on him? Too hard?

The truth is, I’m probably doing a lot wrong, but I’m not sure that has anything to do with my son’s tantrums. He’s just being a toddler. True, he’s probably a little more wound up than average, but he’s still in the range of what’s normal for a little boy his age. He screams and cries and pulls hair and pinches and kicks and hits. He also says thank you all the time without being prompted and he gives the sweetest hugs and he laughs louder and longer than any other kid I’ve ever met. He’s a toddler.

I’m still new to parenthood, but after nearly two years, I’ve been at it long enough to know that phases are just that: phases. They come and they go. And bad behavior in toddlerhood is, thank God, just a phase. Eventually, children learn that tantrums — especially in public — are inappropriate. They learn to express their feelings through words — words that many of them simply don’t have at two years old. All the crazy energy coursing through their still-tiny bodies calms down a bit. The painful growth spurts slow. The teething comes to an end. And the social skills they’re learning at the playground or in preschool or in the sandbox sharpen and they realize that hitting isn’t nice and that sharing is a better way to make friends.

The learning curve — for both the children and the first-time parents — is steep in toddlerhood. But eventually the difficult lessons do pay off, I think. I hope. Those awkward experiences in the grocery store when your two-year-old throws himself on the floor and wails loudly because you won’t buy him the sugary cereal finally dissipate and, hopefully, you have a child who understands boundaries and that in life, we don’t always get what we want and that’s ok. But, while a parent has the benefit of a long-term pay-off, the random passerby does not. He or she sees the public meltdown and that’s it. She doesn’t see a year or two from now when that same toddler turns into a sweet, polite 4-year-old who still may whine from time to time, but no longer beats his tiny fists against the floor, red-faced and out of breath because his mother told him it was time to go home for lunch.

So, random passers-by and people who side-eye my fellow warriors in this battle called parenthood, let me tell you something: what you see in the five-minute snippet of my life, of our lives, is just a tiny percentage of the full picture. I know it’s annoying and I’m sorry for that, but it is not indicative of my role as a parent or my son’s development or his ability to cope or interact with people. It is just five minutes in the life of a toddler — five minutes that may seem like an absolute eternity (especially to ME), but is really just a blip on the radar. Stick around another five minutes and you’ll see a different kid — a happy, laughing, sweet little boy — one I hope to see more and more of as he matures and learns to handle small disappointments with better grace.

But for now, I have a crazy two-year-old with boundless energy, strong opinions, and a temper that rivals Medusa. It’s my job to help him learn how to express himself appropriately and how to rein it all in when necessary. But that takes time. It just doesn’t happen overnight. And it doesn’t all happen from the comfort and privacy of our home. Much of the learning will happen outside, in public, around people like you. And it’s going to take a while, so please, when you see us out and about and my son starts acting like a colossal pain like he does sometimes, save your judgment. Show some compassion. This shit is HARD. And I’m doing the very best I can.

Comments on this entry are closed.

avatar sisisodapop September 24, 2013, 1:44 pm

Thank you, Wendy.

avatar kerrycontrary September 24, 2013, 1:46 pm

Yay Wendy! I just think it’s so easy to judge people and we never know the full story or know what someone’s life is like.

I think something I’ve learned, even as people develop into adults, is you can do everything right and your kid can turn out not great. Or you can do a lot of things wrong and get lucky and have a great kid. All you can do is your best. I think what it boils down to is getting rid of the judgement. Even if a parent IS doing something that you see as “bad parenting” (whether its scolding in public, having their kid out late at night, feeding them doritos for breakfast) you don’t know their life! Maybe they work a weird schedule so their kid gets up later and goes to bed later than other kids. Or maybe they slept 2 hours and they cannot keep their cool even though they are normally a “good parent”. Or maybe their kid really just wants to eat doritos and its easier to say “yes” instead of them throwing a fit on public transportation and having everyone stare at them and then determine that they are a “bad parent” and that’s why their kid is having a tantrum.

Just knowing a 2 year old right now…they have tantrums. Even if they are on a schedule. Even if their parents enforce discipline. They just do.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 1:50 pm

WWS. All of it!

I had a close friend who would tell me how she knows exactly what I was going through when Lil was younger because “she practically raised her little sister.” It made me BATTY! I, too, “practically raised” my younger siblings. Nothing.like.parenting. She just had her first child 2 years ago. She promptly apologized for saying that all the time. Haha.

avatar kerrycontrary September 24, 2013, 1:55 pm

I know this is the exception, but I’ve run into a lot of people lately who had parents who left them as teens and then subsequently had to raise their younger siblings who were still children. I know that sounds crazy and I don’t know how people get away with it, but in that case I would believe someone’s parenting experience.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 1:58 pm

Agreed. Or parents who are too drunk to take care of the kids properly. I see this dynamic all the time. Sometimes the older kids really are parenting the younger ones. If someone’s talking about babysitting and not making the decisions about childrearing then I get why that would be annoying.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:00 pm

I still feel like there is a big difference. Just from my personal experience.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 2:02 pm

What do you think the difference is if the older kid is acting as a full time parent?

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:07 pm

Now that I know Kerry meant the parents literally moved out, its not a big difference, but still a difference.

I’m thinking more along the lines of what I experienced (parents divorced, dad left with all the $, mom went back to school and work full time). I still was a “kid” at school, but came home to make lunches, dinners, bath time, reading, checking homework, light discipline, bedtime, all that kinda stuff. All the “parent” stuff. But I’d still say that was very different than having my own kid.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 2:19 pm

Yeah, I get that. I can only imagine how annoying that is to hear someone say that they understand parenting when they were only standing in for a parent part time. And that’s probably what happens the majority of the time, but there are times when siblings actually do raise siblings, even if the parents still are there. Some of the families I see have parents in the home, but they might leave for days at a time, and when they are there, they’re constantly drunk or strung out and don’t pay attention to the kids except to beat them every now and then. They might be present, but they’re not parenting; the teenagers are doing literally all of the parenting.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:23 pm

All good points that I totally agree with. I obviously was only thinking of my somewhat normal experience, not the truly horrible things some kids have to deal with.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 2:26 pm

That’s understandable. My mind usually jumps straight to the worst possible scenario, because that’s obviously what I see and talk about all day.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 1:59 pm

Parents who actually left, like moved out?

avatar kerrycontrary September 24, 2013, 2:01 pm

Yes. Parents who moved out while their oldest was like 14. In the situations I’m aware of the kids still get money occasionally so they can eat/stay in the house, but the parents (or parent) will go move somewhere else and/or live with a new boyfriend/girlfriend. Sometimes the kids have no other family, or they are doing Ok so the neighbors don’t call CPS.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:03 pm


avatar kerrycontrary September 24, 2013, 2:06 pm

Yeh it’s insane and I feel heartbroken that a parent would leave their children like that. But they really are “raising” their siblings as the parents couldn’t give a crap whether their children are placed in foster homes or not.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:09 pm

So, so sad. You’ll see above I assumed you meant just parents that aren’t around much, but still living at home.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:12 pm

Thinking about it more, that’s really no different than parenting say, a kid you adopt who isn’t an infant. So yea, I agree with your first comment.

avatar Matcha September 25, 2013, 12:34 pm

This is what I think of when I hear “I parented my younger siblings.” One of my friends showed up to my high school graduation party with his baby sibling – I’d say the child was about a year old because he couldn’t walk. And the only reason he could make it was because my friend gave him a ride and my mother took care of his brother for a bit so he could relax. His parents left to go on vacation in another city and left the baby, with him, a high school student with no car and no money. At the time it seemed horrible but looking back on it it’s even more ridiculous to me.

avatar JM September 24, 2013, 1:52 pm

Well said. And I’m glad you can confidently say “I’m a good parent.” Even that isn’t easy to do without any qualifiers, knowing how much parents are judged at times.

avatar GatorGirl September 24, 2013, 1:56 pm

Wendy I’m sorry if you took my opinion as saying bad behavior = bad parents because that is not what I mean. I really understand why it’s read that way, but I really truly don’t believe that is true. I do however think most of the time bad parenting = bad behavior, but that is a whole different discussion.

I’m not going to keep commenting on this subject today, because the thread last week was exhausting. I apologize if I offended you Wendy, or anyone else, it was not my intention.

Dear Wendy Wendy September 24, 2013, 2:03 pm

I hope you don’t feel singled out. I think your words, whether or not they appropriately summarize your view on the relationship between parenting and kids’ behavior, represent a lot of people’s viewpoint. I see it in people’s eyes all the time. When jackson is acting out in public, it’s almost a given that someone is looking at me judgmentally, like it’s all my fault. No, I could do everything right (not that I do!) and my kid would still act out because that’s what toddlers do.

avatar GatorGirl September 24, 2013, 2:07 pm

Honestly I did feel pretty called out, but it’s cool. Some times a person needs to be called out! I think this whole subject is a big lesson on why it’s important not to judge those you don’t know (and those you do!).

avatar Jenny September 24, 2013, 2:25 pm

I don’t think you went as far as to say bad behavior = bad parenting, but you did basically say that good parenting would drastically reduce the number of tantrums, which I agree with…if we’re talking about pre-schoolers who do not have any underlying medical/developmental issues. But we’re talking about toddlers. One of the most important things you can do as a parent is have age realistic expectations for your child’s behavior. Expecting a toddler to not have tantrums is absurd. I think it’s a good thing to get “called out” in DW because for the most part it will be done kindly, and parents can get pretty annoyed when non-parents start spouting all their theories on how they’re fucking up their kids. As they should.

Also, I think it worth noting that most of the people agreeing with you were not parents and the people disagreeing with you were parents…that should have been a sign to you that perhaps your opinion was a bit misguided.

avatar kerrycontrary September 24, 2013, 2:04 pm

I think we were all just discussing different types of tantrums. There are the tantrums where a child’s needs aren’t being met. There are the tantrums where a perfectly happy child flips the fuck out because his socks are scratchy. There are the tantrums where a toddler doesn’t want to go home but he’s going to throw an even bigger tantrum if he doesn’t eat a snack in the next 72 seconds. The thing is as an outsider you don’t know which it is since you a only observing from a distance.

avatar bethany September 24, 2013, 2:13 pm

I agree with you (and said basically the same thing yesterday). There are certainly times where bad parenting decisions result in bad behavior (ex: kids out WAY past their bedtime acting out), but in my opinion, that’s not what the article was about. The article was about kids, young kids acting like the toddlers they are, and most of the time nothing can stop that!

avatar bethany September 24, 2013, 1:56 pm

I spent Sunday with my friend and her 2 kids- The oldest is almost 3. She’s a great kid, and I’m obsessed with her. She had a little cold, and all day went between being the sweetest little girl and the devil. 5 minutes one way, 5 minutes the other. One second she’s telling me she loves me and wants to come to my house and play with my cats, the next second she’s screaming for her mom, and won’t come near me. I’ll be honest, I was a little relieved when it was time for me to go home!!
Sometimes kids are just kids, and you can’t do anything about it.

avatar Odadrek September 24, 2013, 1:58 pm


“What did that … kid do to that poor woman!”

beelzebarb beelzebarb September 24, 2013, 2:50 pm

Aaaaand now I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole that is youtube videos of Louis CK stand-up.

Classic Classic September 24, 2013, 2:08 pm

Oh that video is adorable. He is just too cute for words. You are such a wonderful mother. I love when you post these.

avatar rachel September 24, 2013, 2:12 pm

Jackson is too cute. Wendy, I think you and Drew are great parents, and I hope Jackson calms down soon so you can breathe 🙂

I hope that parents don’t think I’m judging if I see their kid have a tantrum. I try to give a sympathetic smile and not stare or anything. I just am nosy by nature, so if I hear noise, I likely will look. But yeah, it’s hard being a toddler, I would be cranky too.

BriarRose BriarRose September 24, 2013, 2:15 pm

When my daughter was younger, the very rare “I’ve been there and I get it” comment from a fellow parent was a priceless joy to me. Most of the time it was usually just evil looks, because obviously I should have just abandoned my cart at the grocery store and come back later when she’s not crying.

It is exhausting and embarrassing, feeling like every eye is upon you while you try to calm down a child who can’t even fully communicate yet. I get it, Wendy.

Dear Wendy Wendy September 24, 2013, 2:22 pm

On the plane to st. louis last week, there was a family sitting in the row behind me with TWO kids under three (oy!). One of the kids kept kicking my seat and the poor mother was saying, “You’re bothering her! Please stop kicking.” And I turned around and said, “I’ve got a toddler at home, don’t worry about me. I know how it is!” She looked relieved (but not as relieved as I was to be traveling with no kids…).

BriarRose BriarRose September 24, 2013, 2:52 pm

I’m sure she’ll remember that for a long time! And hopefully pay it forward some day.

avatar Sara September 24, 2013, 4:01 pm

*This* is what my comment was trying to get at on Friday. I think this was a beautiful interaction. Here, Wendy and the parent both put themselves in the other person’s shoes: the parent acknowledged that her child’s behavior was adversely affecting someone else, and Wendy, without passing judgement, acknowledged that kids are kids (and, moreover, toddlers are toddlers).

Manders Mazie September 24, 2013, 2:18 pm

One of the most annoying comments I have heard since having a little boy 10 months ago is “well we have a puppy which is pretty much like having a kid.” Uhhhh. Not. Even. Close.

beelzebarb beelzebarb September 24, 2013, 2:26 pm

SERIOUSLY?? Omg, what a moron.

honeybeenicki honeybeenicki September 24, 2013, 2:31 pm

What, it’s not the same?! (kidding, kidding!) My dogs are much easier than kids of any age.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:32 pm

Hahaha, I wasn’t gonna be the one to say it.

avatar rachel September 24, 2013, 2:42 pm

Just for the record, if I ever say anything like that, I mean it as a joke. Because I just reserved a pet-sitter for a trip next month, and while it is annoying to have to pay $35 a day on top of all of my other travel expenses, I can, you know, just drop my dog off at someone’s house for 5 days, haha.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:49 pm

aww, I wasn’t referring to anyone on here! But I wasn’t gonna say it on here bc so many of you are animal lovers.

avatar rachel September 24, 2013, 2:56 pm

Haha, no, I didn’t think anyone necessarily was. But I wanted to put that out there, so people know that some of us know it’s obnoxious, but still think it’s funny sometimes. I don’t think I’d ever say it to the face of someone with an infant though, that’s just cruel.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 2:52 pm

I joke about it all the time too, Rachel. I NEVER mean it for real though.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 24, 2013, 2:59 pm

Sorry I’m not sorry.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 3:10 pm

I love you.

Astronomer Astronomer September 24, 2013, 3:14 pm

I think people get confused when the love they have for their pets is, like, a billion times bigger than what they ever thought was possible. That’s the same feeling that new parents describe having for their kids, you know? But (big but) they don’t realize that loving a pet a billion isn’t like doing the same amount of work that parents of small children do.

For example, I love my cat Ben a billion. I would die in a knife fight for him. I would give him both my kidneys. I would save him before my husband in a house fire. I might love Ben with the same fierceness that some people love their children, but he doesn’t wear diapers or have tantrums or need supervision and entertainment 14 hours a day. He doesn’t have to stay on a certain nap schedule or have a babysitter if I want to go to the store without him.

So yeah, I understand the silly “pet parent” comments, even if they are kind of out there.

avatar kerrycontrary September 24, 2013, 3:55 pm

Yeh I actually get people saying “oh your dog is like a toddler” and I’m like “except I can leave her home alone while I go to work…and she doesn’t wear diapers…”. I mean there are some striking similarities like the amount of noise she can make, the fact that she gets cranky when she needs a nap and starts to nip me, or the fact that I can’t leave anything within her reach. But otherwise…not so much.

niki Niki September 24, 2013, 2:24 pm

Last night my toddler threw a tantrum because 1. While reading her the book SHE picked out, she was suddenly pissed it wasn’t a different book. 2. She needed her diaper changed. 3. She wasn’t getting a bath right.this.very.second. 3. She couldn’t play with her toothbrush in the living room. 4. She had to sit in timeout for hitting, pinching, and scratching me after taking her toothbrush away. 5. She didn’t want to get out of the bathtub. 6. She didn’t want to wear pajamas. 7. She wanted her bedtime milk right.this.very.second.

All of this happened in about an hour and a half time span. It is like this at some point in the day, every day. It’s exhausting. We’re good parents. We love our daughter fiercely. But they are people with minds of their own. We can’t control their every thought, emotion and action.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:35 pm

Clearly you’re a bad mom for not letting her play with the toothbrush in the living room. I mean, really.

niki Niki September 24, 2013, 3:18 pm

I’m the WORST! But I do let her play with knives, scissors and throwing stars. She’s a miniature ninja.

avatar Grilledcheesecalliope September 24, 2013, 4:41 pm

That’s the weirdest thing to me about kids. That they have wants, and thoughts. It kind of creeps me out.

beelzebarb beelzebarb September 24, 2013, 2:25 pm

I completely agree. Every toddler I’ve ever known, and I’ve known quite a few, had tantrums. Some of them would detonate more often and more easily than others but still, they ALL do. I don’t know why people think that it’s the result of bad parenting. Hell, my friend has two kids and when the older one was a toddler, he was like Wendy’s description of Jackson. Her younger one is a toddler now, and he’s a lot calmer. He goes apeshit in public but it’s pretty rare. If it comes down to parenting, how come the same parents can have one tantrum-y kid and one mellow kid? When I see kids flipping out at the grocery store, I just feel bad for them because obviously they feel crappy, even if it’s for no good reason. Well, unless I’m tired and cranky. Then I’m jealous because I can’t throw myself on the ground and cry and pound my fists on the floor without being taken away and thrown into a padded room. I also feel bad for their harried parent(s) who almost always look over at me with an expression that indicates a) that they are tired and exasperated, and b) that they are expecting a judgmental glare from me. Wendy, I don’t have kids, so I can only imagine how hard it is to spend the bulk of your day cooped up with a moody little person who only has a very rudimentary grasp of the English language. I admire your ability to do it and still remain (relatively) sane. You and Drew are great parents, and Jackson will turn into a smart, funny, and caring dude. He’s already got the super-cute thing locked down 🙂

avatar Jessibel5 September 24, 2013, 3:14 pm

According to Wendy he’s also already got the “thank you” thing locked down too, which is a huge win already! More adults need to say that!

avatar snoopy128 September 25, 2013, 12:43 am

Totally agree.
I am one of those creepy smilers. I think tantrums are hilarious because they are rarely logical and can rarely be stopped. So I smile, give the parents a sympathetic nod, and carry on. Sometimes, I wish I could join them. Especially after a long day of working with children and watching them meltdown.

Funny enough, my job this summer involved being ‘on call’ for any behavioural incidents at summer camps. Every time I heard a child scream or cry at work, I’d rush out of my office and look around to figure out the cause (and if it was my problem to deal with). My coworkers and I would laugh since most people would do the opposite.

Anyways, toddlers are crazy and I empathize for them. They can’t express what they want well, and often they don’t even know what they want or how to figure out what their body is telling them. No impulse control, disorganized thought patterns; imagine if that was your brain. That’s my biggest thing- imagine if all of that was going on in your brain. Parenting them is hard, and so you just enjoy the good and remember the ‘bad’ will pass.

avatar Emily September 24, 2013, 2:31 pm

Aw, Elmo shirt. SO CUTE. You’re doing great job and I am glad you know that! It is HARD and I am not a parent but when I spend time with toddlers (four days a week lately) I am WIPED OUT by the time I come home… and I know how I am lucky (in some ways) because I get to leave them with their parents! Peace out, buddies! Anyway, you rock. I love you.

Dear Wendy Wendy September 24, 2013, 2:49 pm

Right back atcha.

honeybeenicki honeybeenicki September 24, 2013, 2:31 pm

I have a question for all of the parents of toddlers. I mean, I’m a (step)parent, but I didn’t get to experience the toddler years as the kids were 5 and 7 when their dad and I met. I won’t even pretend to have any idea what it’s like to parent a small child (even though I “practically raised” my younger siblings… I know it’s not even close to the same) When I see a kid throwing a tantrum I rarely assume it’s bad parenting. More likely, I feel bad for the parent who is probably exhausted and frustrated and embarrassed.

So my question really is – is it ok to offer help? Sometimes I just want to stop and ask if they need anything or if I can help, but I don’t know if that’s ok. I don’t know if it would embarrass them more.

Dear Wendy Wendy September 24, 2013, 2:38 pm

I think a simple, “Do you need a hand with anything?” is nice if only because it conveys compassion and sometimes that is all a parent needs to get through the next five or ten minutes, you know?

honeybeenicki honeybeenicki September 24, 2013, 4:17 pm

Then that’s what I’ll do. And hopefully when I’m lucky(?) enough to have my own toddler having a meltdown, someone else will do the same for me.

avatar tbrucemom September 24, 2013, 2:31 pm

I hate to tell Wendy that 3 is worse than 2. I’m going to get grief for this but sometimes children need a spanking. I’m not talking about abuse so don’t go there. Part of the problem is parents today are afraid to spank their children because they think they’ll get in trouble with social services and unfortunately sometimes they’re correct. I spanked my 18 year old daughter who has a full academic scholorship and my 27 year old son who served in the Marine Corps and is now married and a great stepdad, both turned out great. My sister and I were spanked and guess what we turned out great too. None of us has been in trouble with the law, have trouble with alcohol or drugs, we’re gainfully employed and are a very loving family.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 2:37 pm

I’m surprised your 18 y.o and 27 y.o still are ok with you spanking them. (that is exactly how I read it, haha) 😉

honeybeenicki honeybeenicki September 24, 2013, 2:45 pm

I read it that way too. My mom always tells me I’m not too old for spanking. And I was only spanked once as a child (apparently running out in front of a UPS truck is bad), so it’s funny that she’d threaten me with it as an adult.

beelzebarb beelzebarb September 24, 2013, 2:45 pm

LOL! Me too! Sorry tbruce, I’m not trying to give you crap or anything.

avatar kerrycontrary September 24, 2013, 2:38 pm

I’m not opposed to spanking, but I will saying that 4 people isn’t exactly hard evidence that spanking=your child will be successful.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 2:49 pm

For real. I will never understand the argument that we need to go back to spanking because kids were better back when they got spankings. Pretty sure every generation has turned out criminals, lunatics, and model citizens.

avatar Nadine September 24, 2013, 3:44 pm

Totally. My parents were hardcore anti-smacking (spanking just sounds kinky to my non-American ear hehe) and their three kids have never had any trouble with the law, are married, homeowners etc. Anecdata!

Skyblossom Skyblossom September 25, 2013, 6:22 pm

Kids need consistent discipline, discipline that is enforced immediately when they do things they shouldn’t but I don’t think you ever actually have to spank. At the age of two I think the main message a toddler gets from a spanking is that you hit people to make them quit doing things you don’t like which is only going to get that child into trouble when they go to preschool and try hitting the other kids whenever they don’t like what the other kids are doing.

If you’re wondering I’m the parent of two kids, one 22 and one 13 and I never spanked either of them and they are well behaved and we get compliments on how nice they are.

avatar TheOtherOtherMe September 24, 2013, 2:34 pm

If anyone thinks that irrational toddlers are somehow the product of bad parents, they are really delusional. Toddlers flip out for the flimsiest of reasons. Mostly because they are still learning how to process their emotions and how to handle delayed gratification. It’s a DEVELOPMENTAL STAGE, people. If you need proof, check out this website: http://www.reasonsmysoniscrying.com/

avatar Bunnycsp September 24, 2013, 3:46 pm

love that blog!

Moneypenny Moneypenny September 24, 2013, 2:34 pm

I’m not a parent so I really can’t fully understand what it’s like, but I do sympathize when I see a meltdown happening. I am amazed at the lungpower that kids have! I sometimes think that when a toddler has a tantrum in public, people feel they have a right to judge or make comments (to you or to themselves) since it’s happening out in the open in, well, public. Some people I know have zero tolerance for little kids, and I can’t help but wonder if they were a perfect child themselves? We’ve all been toddlers ourselves once!

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 24, 2013, 2:44 pm

Yeah I don’t understand the judgment and I don’t have kids and don’t particularly love the sound of screaming (but does anyone? Surely parents hate it too). I ALWAYS smile when parents look mortified about their kid crying in public. I hope it’s not a creepy smile but an understanding smile. It actually hurts my heart to think of all these parents that are just mortified. It’s a toddler! What do you expect? Toddlers are like little drunk assholes. You can’t reason with them and everything is about them. But on the days it’s not driving you crazy it is kind of hilarious to watch what they flip out about. I am totally going to be that parent that is up late at night drinking wine after they’ve gone to bed and making fun of them behind their backs.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 3:04 pm

Lil heard us the other night doing just that. Yes, I know, I suck.
She’s at the stage where every person anywhere near her age range she either says she knows, or says she might know them. Anyone experience this? For instance, passing a pack of teenagers in the car. Lil shouts “Oh, I know him. Went to my camp” but says it as though it makes her cool or something. So the other night Peter said ‘I know that guy,’ and I go ‘who are you? Lil? My name’s Lil and I know everyone. I know him. I know her. I know all of them’ And she heard me. Shouts ‘HEY that’s not nice MOOOOM’ from her room.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 24, 2013, 3:05 pm

hahaha that’s awesome. I am going to teach my kids how fun it is to make fun of themselves, each other, strangers, everyone. Also how to not take anything anyone else says seriously, including their own thoughts sometimes.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 2:46 pm

But being a toddler once doesn’t have anything to do with tolerating little kids. I hate nothing more than a screaming toddler. Nothing. I know it’s not the kid’s fault. I know the parents aren’t doing anything wrong. I know it’s natural. It doesn’t mean that I like to hear ugly crying and screaming when I’m trying to enjoy my alone time shopping or when I have a migraine and just want to get home and go to bed. It’s pretty natural to be annoyed by that. What matters is what we choose to say or do about it.

avatar Jessibel5 September 24, 2013, 3:08 pm

I love how you put that. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, because it’s what I thought when I read your last sentence: As my favorite cinematic bouncer says “Be. Nice.”

muchachaenlaventana muchachaenlaventana September 24, 2013, 3:26 pm

Yeah I agree with this 1000% and was trying to write it out in such a nice way. It really grates on my nerves A LOT but when I see a toddler in the throes of a meltdown in public I have nothing but sympathy for both them and their child. I mean it breaks my heart and I inevitably do a weird eye contact and half smile trying to convey my understanding and non-nonjudgmental.

Moneypenny Moneypenny September 24, 2013, 3:29 pm

I do see what you’re saying. And yeah, I do feel annoyed sometimes when I see/hear tantrum-ing kids. But at least for me (not saying this goes for everyone, and clearly you feel differently!), knowing that, well, I’ve been that kid once, or that almost everyone has been that kid once, helps put it in perspective. And when I do that, it bothers me less and I move on.

muchachaenlaventana muchachaenlaventana September 24, 2013, 3:45 pm

yeah it doesn’t bother me in like a visceral or prolonged way and i guess what gets me more is when parents are completely unaware of their patently misbehaving and disruptive children (like 4-5+) and do nothing to correct or stop those actions (in public places), but again that’s a completely different scenario from a toddler tantrum. the sound gets to me but then i get over it because i have so much respect for moms/dads/the people who deal with that and can only imagine how incredibly hard it is and yeah have no clue how i would ever have that patience.

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 2:40 pm

I would just like to pat myself on the back here for NEVER EVER giving the evil eye – or any sort of “hey, you, shut your kid of” eye – to a parent, whether at a restaurant, on a plane, at a store… YOU’RE WELCOME, PARENTS! I think it’s because I just love kids that much and I’ve seen a LOT of tantrums from babysitting and in my role as Cooliest Aunt Ever, so I just expect tantrums from time to time.

Ok, I’m done bragging about that.

Also, Wendy is full of shit – I have met Jackson and in those few minutes he was an absolute angel, the sweetest pea, and he didn’t fuss when I stole 5 kisses. … Though I get it: that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a tantrum later on. It happens.

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 2:48 pm

I would bet most of the people who give the evil eye just don’t like kids or noise or chaos. And it’s less about judging the parent’s parenting as it is just expressing annoyance that they’re little quiet bubble got pierced. And then there’s the judgmental types. I can’t help but think those people go through life slighly miserable. I mean if they can’t make it through a store without getting annoyed and judgy about some stranger’s parenting skills, then how the hell to the handle real people in their actual lives and whatever things THEY have going on – I’m sure it’s more annoyance and judginess. That’s got to be an exhausting way to go about life.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 2:51 pm

“I would bet most of the people who give the evil eye just don’t like kids or noise or chaos. And it’s less about judging the parent’s parenting as it is just expressing annoyance that they’re little quiet bubble got pierced.”

Yes! (I don’t give evil eyes to parents though, except on the rare occasion that someone actually is doing something really terrible.)

avatar GatorGirl September 24, 2013, 3:05 pm

Did I tell you about the mother I witnessed at Kohls yelling at her probably 6 year old for misbehaving and threatening to send the kid to foster care if they kept acting that way. I was baffled. (It also was after 9pm on a school night.)

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:08 pm

Ugh, that is terrible. I know the whole point of this piece is to not judge parents and all that jazz, but I would definitely judge someone for threatening to send their kid to foster care. That’s just terrible and unloving. (Plus you can’t just send your kid to foster care, duh.)

avatar GatorGirl September 24, 2013, 3:17 pm

LBH, she was serious. And my posts the other day where after a particularly trying few days at Kohls where there was bad parenting examples all over the place. I do try so very hard not to judge parents, I know it’s a hard job and there is judgments coming from so many places (and I know judgments are coming from my MIL about my more alternative choices I plan on going with). But when I see things like that, my heart aches for the kid. I want to cuddle the toddler who is screaming at 10pm on a Tuesday exhausted while their mom shops. I’m terrified the toddler racing through the isles is going to trip and injure themselves (like my brother who was a millimeter away from loosing his eye at Dress Barn did). I want to teach my cousin that screaming VAGINA repeatedly in a restaurant isn’t appropriate and it makes her look like a wild thing. Blah.

I think that’s what fueled my posts the other day, it wasn’t judgment of parents, but wishing all kids could have great parents.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 3:25 pm

That’s messed up!! I heard someone threaten to beat their kid in the grocery store once and then she shouted to everyone who obviously heard her ‘and i’ll bounce before the cops show up here!’ I wanted to kidnap that poor kid.

avatar GatorGirl September 24, 2013, 3:26 pm

Oh yes, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard “If you don’t stop you’re getting a beating when we get home!” usually for things like “mom I’m bored can we go.” It’s just really hard to be around so often.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:27 pm

I remember you telling us about that before. That is so messed up. I would get in the car and follow that bitch until the cops showed up. Really though the cops probably can’t do much unless she actually did hit the kids. 🙁

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:28 pm

Please just pretend those verb tenses agree, mkay?

beelzebarb beelzebarb September 24, 2013, 3:33 pm

I hate it when I notice that I used bad grammar right after I click the send button!

EscapeHatches EscapeHatches September 24, 2013, 4:25 pm

We threaten to sell my stepson on the regular. Then again, tinkers/gypsies/child-stealers/etc. aren’t as common as they once were.

He’s been lucky… so far.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 3:09 pm

Was she serious? I’ve totally said I’m returning you to the store I bought you from, joking obviously.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:12 pm

That’s just funny though because she obviously knows you didn’t buy her from the store.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 3:20 pm

Meh, I got my sisters to believe they were both once chickens or wooden dolls, respectively. haha.

avatar Jessibel5 September 24, 2013, 3:21 pm

Chuckles and I joke all the time that once they get old enough to have opinions, they’re gone. I would never actually say that to my kid though! The trauma and therapy that will bring…geez!

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 3:08 pm

And I guess I should add that I’m not defending those people; it’s annoying when people get annoyed so easily – especially about a toddly that can’t help it! But I also like noise and chaos so I just don’t get it. But, I really do bet most of the evil eyes are just annoying people who are annoyed…. And to that I think, well shit, if a wittle baby who can’t control himself is annoying, then I’d bet a SHIT TON of stuff in life is annoying – always a miserable way to be in life, constantly annoyed. Being judgy and annoyed by others just sounds like an exhausting/miserable way to go about ilfe. You know?

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 3:10 pm

it’s annoying to be annoyed by annoying people who are annoyed about annoying people…. did you get all that?

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:11 pm

Okay, cool, so I’m annoying and judgy and miserable in life. Awesome. Thanks. Still doesn’t make screaming a pleasant thing to deal with for anyone.

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 3:18 pm

oh shit, were you in the “i get annoyed when babies scream in public” camp? sorry I didn’t read carefully. i wasn’t slamming you. unless, well, lots of things annoy you daily, so much so that you’re rolling your eyes at people – that does sound like a miserable way to go about life. But that doesn’t sound like you so don’t take that statement personally.

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 3:22 pm

wait i just re-read what you wrote. you didn’t say anything. but you know yourself. if things annoy you easily then yes that does sound miserable. and if you’re judgy about everyone around you, that does sound like an exhausting and miserable way to go about life. … but knowing you as well as i can from DW and FB, that really doesn’t sound like you!

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:23 pm

Oh, sorry. I posted the comment saying I hated it so much in a different place. Thought it was here.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:22 pm

It’s fine. Glad you didn’t mean it that way. It just came across as you calling me that when you said that in a reply to me saying I hated it. No offense taken then.

But yeah, screaming kids are my pet peeve. Nothing pisses me off more. Literally nothing. Ever. I don’t give dirty looks about it, except at older kids who misbehave when their parents aren’t watching, and I’m not annoyed by all that much, but screaming kids can ruin my afternoon faster than anything.

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 3:37 pm

no i get it. it’s not like a baby’s cries is music to my ears; for whatever reason hearing it two aisles over in grocery store doesn’t bother me. and i guess it’b ecause i know the baby can’t help it and the parent can’t control it. i also don’t get annoyed when people have coughing fits or turrets or the shakes or whatever. Smacking gum annoys the crap out of me. As do the word “hubby”” and wedding rules as we all know – so yea I have my own issues. Ha.

muchachaenlaventana muchachaenlaventana September 24, 2013, 4:29 pm

I was in that camp. However, there is a huge different between getting annoyed and being judgey. Judgey people are usually dicks, most people who get annoyed never act on that annoyance except internally. Do I sometimes get annoyed when a child is crying nonstop while I am out at a nice dinner, because its not a pleasant sound or I can’t carry on a conversation, yes but I keep that to myself and get over it about 30 seconds later. Personally though I think I am allowed to get annoyed at it and not feel bad about it. Different things annoy different people and people shouldn’t be judged on what gets their dander up as long as they don’t act like dicks based off of it.

Fabelle Fabelle September 24, 2013, 3:14 pm

Yeah, I definitely think most of the evil-eye givers are like you described (annoyed someone pierced their quiet bubble). I’ve been out with people before who are like, “ugh, that loud kid” & I’ll be like, “What even are you talking about?” because I don’t really hear it, like I don’t mind noises if I’m out in public? It’s like a bustling chaos, & that’s cool. If there is a kid hitting particularly high, screechy notes, of course I will cringe a little inside, but I never judge the parents.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 24, 2013, 3:22 pm

I also think it’s weird that people think they’re entitled to peace and quiet in public. What? You’re in PUBLIC. Not your house. You are out around people – people are loud. You aren’t entitled to shit.

Moneypenny Moneypenny September 24, 2013, 3:32 pm

I know right?? If you hate noise, then stay home. Out in public all bets are off!

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:37 pm

How realistic is that? If I hate noise, I’m supposed to be a subsistence farmer and a knitter so I never have to go to the store or to work? Or people in cities never have to use transportation to get somewhere?

I agree that people aren’t entitled to quietness, but no one can realistically just stay home. As long as they’re not cranky Scrooges about how annoyed they are, no big deal.

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 3:41 pm

I think the point is is that if you hate noise, just accept that noise will always be there.

Moneypenny Moneypenny September 24, 2013, 4:10 pm

Yes! That’s what I was getting at. 🙂

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 24, 2013, 3:43 pm

No I think in that case you need to understand that it’s your issue and not the babies or the parents fault. So instead of saying I hate when babies cry in public acknowledge that you don’t like noise in public and are kinda a grouchy old lady about it. Which is fine, I am a super grouchy old lady about people walking slowly in the grocery store. I can hammer out a $100 grocery trip in like 20 minutes flat. Why you be walking so fing slow in front of me? Why you gotta park your cart in the MIDDLE of the aisle, in an effort to be as big of a dick as possible. See? My issue.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:48 pm

I agree completely. I really hate screaming babies, but I’m not saying it’s their fault or the parents’ fault. I’m just saying that it’s okay to hate hearing babies scream as long as you’re not a dick about it.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 24, 2013, 3:54 pm

Yeah I can agree with that.

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 3:56 pm

yea i can agree with that too.

Fabelle Fabelle September 24, 2013, 4:02 pm

Oh god, I’m so with you on the walking slow thing. That’s the one thing that annoys me about being out in public with people (& grocery stores especially). I am on a fucking MISSION when I’m at the grocery store, like walking at running speed, so if anybody is not on my level, they need to GTFO of the way. haha

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 3:33 pm


Jess Jess September 24, 2013, 2:47 pm

Great post Wendy!!!!!! As everyone here knows, we are still trying after last year’s loss. And even thought we don’t have our child yet, I find that I relate to parents of young children automatically.

Humble-brag aside, when I see a toddler tantrum in public I definitely find it annoying and try to get away from the noise as fast as possible but, mostly I just pity the parent and I really cringe trying to imagine how I will handle that. I am someone who revels in anonymity in public. I like a low profile and to go about my food shopping with minimal interaction with strangers. The idea of managing a toddler tantrum and side eyes?? Ugh. I am going to have to grow some THICK skin.

avatar Jessibel5 September 24, 2013, 3:03 pm

I feel the same way. Don’t blame the parent, but you don’t have to like the situation. If you can, get out of there, but don’t throw the side eye. If you’re annoyed by it, you’re the one who can more likely finish your shopping more quickly and peace out, not the mom with the dead weight of a kid who is throwing a tantrum. The store is not “yours” so you don’t get to judge what type of behavior is allowed in it.

I say dead weight because my mom tells me that I used to go boneless in public if I was throwing a tantrum. For her it was either drag me around by an arm or leg, or just ignore me and leave me where I was. She would usually go into another aisle and leave me in the original aisle. She said I always stopped throwing the tantrum, would get up off the floor and find her, and then lay back down in front of her and start pitching a fit again. Apparently I was a manipulative little sh*t when I was a toddler! 🙂

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 3:14 pm

The store is not “yours” so you don’t get to judge what type of behavior is allowed in it.

LOVE THIS! Same for restaurants.

avatar Jessibel5 September 24, 2013, 2:48 pm

Is it different though when the parent is encouraging the behavior? I’m honestly curious. I had a baby in front of me on the plane the other night and the mother kept playfully screeching at the baby and the baby screeched back, ear piercing banshee shrieks. Everyone kept exclaiming how good the baby was being. I was sitting there trying not to be annoyed at the mother, knowing that being a parent is hard and that this is likely better than a screaming, crying tantrum, but there were a few points where I silently begged in my head “please stop”. Granted, this was a red eye and we’d all been on the plane 6+ hours when the screeching game started, so maybe it was just exhaustion combined with discomfort. But I definitely felt like a terrible person for wishing it would stop.

avatar artsygirl September 24, 2013, 3:24 pm

I have wished plenty of children to stop making some horrid noise when I have been in close proximity including my three young nieces – it is natural and babies crying has proven to raise blood pressure specifically in women. That being said – wishing for something to stop and making statements/stink eye/etc are very different in my book

mandalee mandalee September 24, 2013, 2:49 pm

Thank you so much for posting this Wendy! I think a lot of times it’s easy to make a snap judgement on a parent or a child when they are throwing a fit in a public place, than having to be the person on the receiving end of that crazy behavior.

I worked with children of all ages in a classroom setting and nannying/babysitting, toddlers are by far the most trying and exhausting age range out there. They are lovely and hilarious and creative, but oh my god, do they test your patience. I once had a girl I nannied rip her clothes off in the middle of a department store and start screaming because her diaper was wet and she wasn’t quite potty trained but she hated the wet feeling. I understood her frustration and was trying to help, but I was embarrassed solely because everyone else looked at me like some kind of monster. It’s just as you said, toddlers just do not have the emotional capability or the verbal capability to really rationalize their emotions or people’s reactions. That’s no one’s fault, it’s just biology.

I’m sure Jackson will grow out of his “terrible toddler” phase in a while and you can join the ranks of parents who look on sympathetically in public when someone else’s toddler has a meltdown. I nanny two boys (5 & 7) right now and it gets so much easier, I swear.

avatar artsygirl September 24, 2013, 3:21 pm

What a timely article – I was at a Starbucks this morning getting much needed caffeine. Inside there were two women sitting and talking while their two little boys were playing tag and hide and seek. It was as if the two women were completely deaf to the shrieks and chaos their children were causing in a public space with people carrying hot liquids while avoiding running toddlers. This is an example of bad parenting. A baby crying in the supermarket because they are teething is beyond the control of the parents. Most normal and emphatic people should know the difference.

avatar Tax Geek September 24, 2013, 3:23 pm

Having a 13 year old with autism throwing a tantrum in public is fun. Doesn’t happen often, thank goodness, or else we wouldn’t go out as much. But when it does it can get pretty bad.

And even when he is having a great day he is very quirky, can have trouble sitting still etc. I don’t have much patience anymore for gawkers. And a couple times I’ve said to gawkers “what are you looking at?”

Dear Wendy Wendy September 24, 2013, 3:34 pm

A few weeks ago I was at a store and this boy who looked about 13 got about two inches from my face and sort of yelled, “Hello!” And for a split second, I was kind of taken aback — I was trying to figure out if I knew him, if he was threatening me in some way, whatever. And before I had a chance to consider anything else, his father whispered to me, “He’s autistic.” I saw the same scenario happen two or three more times before they left the store and it put things in perspective for me in a way I won’t forget. Parenting a toddler is hard, but it’s a stage that passes. Parenting a child with special needs is something else entirely and I admire the parents who do it well. I would have to find a lot more patience than I currently possess to do well by a child with special needs, I think.

avatar lemongrass September 24, 2013, 6:26 pm

I have a 4 year old nephew with autism and my sister tells me about people’s reactions to his public tantrums. At 4 most people think he is just a spoiled kid when they see him out in public but that will change soon as he gets older. My hat goes off to you and all other parents of special needs kids. It is hard work, more so than I can imagine, and you probably don’t hear thank you enough, so thank you.

avatar TECH September 24, 2013, 3:35 pm

There was something on the news in my area recently where a business owner asked a mom with a child who has having a tantrum to leave the restaurant because it was so severe. And the mom got really pissed off and made it into an issue, and somehow it made it on the news, because the restaurant owner said he didn’t want a screaming child in the restaurant disturbing his other patrons.
In the restaurant owner’s defense, he said he would have been fine if the mother had taken her child outside for a little “cool down” but she wasn’t willing to, so he asked her to leave.
Honestly, I’m on the restaurant owners side with that one.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:40 pm

Restaurant’s side for sure. Other customers might leave the restaurant as a result of the tantrum, and the business has to watch out for itself. Assuming it’s not the Burger King playpen, it’s reasonable to set standards of behavior in your own place of business.

avatar GatorGirl September 24, 2013, 3:45 pm

I’m on the restaurants side too.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 24, 2013, 3:48 pm

Anyone who is shocked by theattack and GG’s response raise your hand.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:50 pm


avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 3:51 pm


avatar GatorGirl September 24, 2013, 3:56 pm

Honestly, it’s a private business, they can basically do what they please unless they are discriminating, which it doesn’t sound like they are.

To me it’s the same as refusing service to an overly intoxicated guest or asking someone who is disobeying the nonsmoking rule to leave. Heck, places turn people away because of their attire. It’s interrupting the enjoyment of the rest of the guests, which is going to hurt the businesses bottom line. Businesses don’t have to be compassionate.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:58 pm

WGGS. Businesses can turn people away for most anything. I’m curious what your thoughts are about this since you’re usually much more pro-free market than I am. I don’t think this about just the screaming kid. Private businesses just have the right to serve who they want to.

avatar Nadine September 24, 2013, 3:50 pm

Restaurant. As a bystander, we don’t own the store so we don’t own the quiet.
In businesses like shops and restaurants, it is private property that peope have been invited onto to eat/shop whatever. That invitation can be rescinded for any reason.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 3:56 pm

Agreed. A restaurant in my last city turned away one of our Senators because he voted against gay rights and sex education and stuff. Businesses can do whatever they want to. (And btw, that restaurant became hugely popular after doing that.)

avatar lets_be_honest September 24, 2013, 4:00 pm

Would you feel the same way if it he were turned away for voting FOR gay rights, etc.?

avatar GatorGirl September 24, 2013, 4:05 pm

Yes, I would. And I would adjust my patronage (is that a word?) accordingly. Just look at what happened with Chic-Fil-A last year, businesses can make or loose money because of the stances they take. Sometimes it’s in the businesses best interest to be a dick.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 4:05 pm

Yup. Believe me, that happens all the time here too. Businesses can do what they please. Now I don’t think businesses should be able to ban all of one race or anything like that, but an individual whose actions they don’t want to associate with? Absolutely.

avatar Nadine September 24, 2013, 4:15 pm

I would. Then I know their stance and I can never go there and give them my money! It works both ways.

avatar kerrycontrary September 24, 2013, 3:53 pm

I’m on the restaurant’s side, but I’m of the mind that kids throwing fits should be taken outside or away from stimulation for 5 minutes to calm down (frankly I still need 20-30 mins to get my adrenaline down when I’m pissed off–so I get it). A lot of couples go out to restaurants for date nights, away from their children, or if they do bring their children it’s a chance for mom or dad to get a break from cooking/dishes.

Miss MJ Miss MJ September 24, 2013, 4:24 pm

I’m on the restaurant’s side, too. Honestly, I’m kind of shocked that the woman refused to take her child outside for a brief cool down period. I thought that was kind of standard.

avatar painted_lady September 24, 2013, 5:26 pm

Yeah, I’m at a loss for some of this. I try not to judge, but when I see parents who are doing nothing to curb the noise or to even acknowledge anything is happening, I can’t help but want to say something (I don’t). I know it’s not always practical or even possible to leave the store or the restaurant – my mom talks about how many dinners she and my dad ate out of styrofoam because one of us had started screaming and one parent took us outside while the other paid and had the food boxed up, but not every parent has those luxuries – but I see parents wheeling their kid through the grocery store, not even acknowledging that the kid is there, much less screaming in the parent’s face. But then again, maybe the parent is trying to avoid reinforcing, “kid screams, kid leaves store,” so I’ll be more aware and curb my judgment because I get that not reinnforcing a potentially really nightmarish habit of the kid’s trumps my eardrums.

But I do resent the occasional attitude I’ve encountered like the lady in the restaurant that she has the right to let her kid’s screaming go unchecked. Don’t have a choice? Fine. Need to avoid creating a terrible habit? Okay…maybe. But just, “Don’t wanna, not gonna?” I can’t really sympathize with that. Fortunately, it seems like those attitudes are really rare. I try to save my ire for parents who let their kids who are old enough to know better run around causing mass destruction completely unchecked.

avatar _s_ September 25, 2013, 12:27 pm

THANK YOU. Personally, I think this is what the “bad behavior/bad parenting” correlation is all about. I think most people understand that a toddler is going to act in public – that’s not where the “bad parent” assumption (or the stank eye) comes in. It’s what the parent does next – in a restaurant, for example, is s/he just ignoring the screaming/crying fit and going on with her/his meal like nothing is happening? Or if the kid starts running around the restaurant, is the parent ignoring it and letting the kid roam free and trip up wait staff?* THIS is what gets me. If the parent is trying to soothe the screamer, or goes after the roamer and brings them back, or is obviously making SOME kind of appropriate response to the “bad” (normal) behavior, I’ll have a lot more sympathy for them. Does that make sense??

*I assume those are the same kind of parents who are going to sue the restaurant when the waiter doesn’t see the free-roaming toddler and trips over it.

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 12:31 pm

Something to consider about mom/dad not trying to calm the screaming kid down at the restaurant…its possible the parents are ignoring as a tactic to teach little Timmy that behavior like that will go ignored and not get you what you want. They may be doing exactly what the parenting books tell them to. So you see ignoring parent, when actually they are doing the best they can/what they think is correct.

Miss MJ Miss MJ September 25, 2013, 12:46 pm

And that’s fair, but … shouldn’t the parents be responsible for determining whether is it the right time and place for that particular lesson? This respect thing goes both ways. Just as it is important for those who aren’t dealing with a tantruming child to remember that there are other factors at play and to remain respectful to the parents and the child, isn’t it also fair to expect that parents will understand that their child’s tantrum isn’t happening in a vacuum and to be respectful of the others who may be present? It’s a judgment call each time, but, to use the screaming child in a restaurant example, while letting your child tantrum unchecked may be what works best for him at home, it may not be what should be done in a restaurant where other people are paying hard-earned money to enjoy a meal and an experience.

theattack theattack September 25, 2013, 12:52 pm

I definitely agree with you under a lot of circumstances, but sometimes the problem is specifically with being in public. If a kid only has particular problems in grocery stores or restaurants, the only opportunity to address it (by ignoring it) is at those places.

Miss MJ Miss MJ September 25, 2013, 1:06 pm

Like I said, it’s a balance. I can’t speak to grocery stores and shopping because those places are so loud and crowded and transitory that it doesn’t really get my attention. For a restaurant-specific situation, I’d say the best mutually respectful option would be for parents of a child they know is going to have a tantrum based on previous behavior and they know that they are going to teach a lesson by ignoring it to either try to stick to kid-friendly restaurants where loud kids are expected or, if they want a nicer meal, to go during times when restaurants are less busy. It’s got nothing to do with bad parenting or bad kids, really, when you think about it. It just gets down to being as respectful of everyone around you as you can be under the circumstances.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 25, 2013, 1:12 pm

This is the thing though – you’re putting it all on them. They need to accommodate you. (FYI it is next to impossible to predict when a toddler will have a flip out. Sure there are triggers (not enough sleep being one) but overall they do what they want when they want. They have mood swings just like the rest of us. We’re just better and self soothing our temper tantrums). I say if you have such a problem with noise in public YOU should be the one to stay in.

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 1:57 pm

Tantrums are not predictable.
And you could be equally respectful of the parents too by allowing them to eat out.

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 1:02 pm

wTAs, and maybe the parents think that is the time and place for it. How else would you teach a kid how to behave in public without being in public (actually, how else would you enforce-not teach-previous threats of ‘if you behave this way in public, I will ignore you and you will not get your way)?
If you ignore the kid’s behavior at home, but coddle him when he does it in public, you are teaching that kid its ok in public because you’ll get your way so we aren’t bothering strangers.

Also, the parents are spending their hard-earned money too!

Quick story- I let Lil cry in a restaurant when she was little. It was the first time going out to eat since I’d had her. I can’t even begin to explain how excited I was for this. My girlfriend was treating. I was getting to see her and be in public for a nice meal. The minute we ordered our food, Lil lost it. And I am not even kidding, I wanted to muzzle her just so I could finally enjoy this day I’d waited months for. I tried to calm her, it didn’t work. So I gave her a bottle, etc. and continued talking pretending I didn’t hear her. We’d already ordered, so I couldn’t just leave. I had to at least wait for the food to come. It sucked. It sucked WAY more for me than it did for any other patron. Trust me. So yea, I was selfish. I wanted my meal out and I wanted some normalcy for the first time in forever. And in that moment, had anyone told me to shut her up or leave, I would’ve lost it way worse than Lil. Was I wrong? Sure. Did I care? NOPE. I was half insane. So next time people want to think they know what the parent is going through, or claim that their ‘hard earned meal’ was ruined, think about how selfish you are and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 1:03 pm

Sorry for the emotional tangent. That ‘hard earned money’ comment rubbed me the wrong way. You’re in public. We’re all in public and we’re ALL spending our hard earned money.

Miss MJ Miss MJ September 25, 2013, 1:33 pm

“So next time people want to think they know what the parent is going through, or claim that their ‘hard earned meal’ was ruined, think about how selfish you are and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.”

This is really unfair.

You say in your post that what you did was selfish and wrong. You can’t then turn around and then claim that someone being annoyed by what you did is selfish and wrong. People who sat there during their meal at what you describe as a nice place had a right to be annoyed with you if your child screamed through their entire meal and you didn’t take her out of the restaurant because you wanted to enjoy your meal. Doesn’t mean they had the right to be rude or nasty to you or to glare at you, but to claim that they were “selfish” by being annoyed by your admittedly annoying behavior is really unfair.

And, frankly, the argument that the parents pay hard earned money, too, isn’t really fair, either. As a parent, you have the choice of where to eat, whether to bring your kids to the restaurant and what to do in the event that they misbehave. In short, the risk (for lack of a better word) of an uncomfortable meal is on you, and you have all the information available to you to make that decision. As another patron in the establishment, I’m kind of stuck with your decisions if I’ve already ordered. Well, unless I am that asshole who walks over and asks you to do something. Which I’m not and have never been. And in a regular restaurant, I’m not going to think about it because it’s to be expected. But, in a nice place where I was paying serious money for a meal that I had looked forward to for a while, I would be annoyed. Just like I would be annoyed by anybody who disturbing the restaurant during a meal.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 25, 2013, 1:35 pm

“As a parent, you have the choice of where to eat, whether to bring your kids to the restaurant and what to do in the event that they misbehave.”

Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe as a human being you have the choice of where to eat. If you want a quiet uninterrupted meal I suggest your kitchen.

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 1:44 pm

Yes, its selfish to claim a restaurant as yours. Its selfish to not be understanding of what the other patron is dealing with also.

The point I was trying to make is if “you” had been at that restaurant, you wouldn’t have known that I hadn’t been out in months, could never afford to go out to eat, missed companionship and normalcy, had been looking forward to this for months, was 100% prepared with stuff to occupy the baby, etc. No, you would’ve just been all ‘wahhhh, my meal was interrupted briefly. That bitch shouldn’t be able to go out in public ever because her baby might freak out.’ But I bet had you known all the other stuff I just listed, you probably would’ve felt sorry for me.

And your argument about the parents’ hard earned money being unfair…that’s just absurd. Is your money or time better or more special? No. Not at all. You, too, have a choice in where to eat, whether to go to a family friendly place, and what to do if you dinner is interrupted by others. How would you feel if I suggested you take your meal outside while I calm the baby down? Because that’s what you’re asking me to do. Ruin MY meal bought with my hard earned money in a public place. Finally, I said it was going out for a nice meal, not a fancy restaurant. It was Applebee’s.

Miss MJ Miss MJ September 25, 2013, 2:01 pm

Sigh. Your story has changed with the details.

First, Applebees is a kid-friendly/regular restaurant and I would never even blink about crying kids in there because, as I said in my post, in regular restaurants, you expect kids and crying and everything else in them. I’m talking about white table cloth, $40 and up entree, reservations are recommended places. Second, a brief interruption is different than a screaming tantrum through a meal that a parent just ignores. Third, I’ve honestly never thought that “bitch shouldn’t be able to go out in public ever because her baby might freak out.” Fourth, your issues don’t make you more important than everybody else, which is kinda what it’s coming across as right now: “I needed this, so it doesn’t matter if everyone else was disturbed.” Fifth, expecting a parent to manage their child is not “ruining their meal bought with their hard earned money.” And finally, because this seems to be confusing people, it’s not “claiming the public as yours” to expect people to be respectful of others and others’ experiences. That’s one of those fundamental principles of life and both sides have to practice this for people to get along. If non-parents (or people out without their kids) are expected to be respectful of parents, then it is absolutely fair to expect that parents out with their kids would do the same.

But, whatever. This conversation has just degenerated into a mess, so I’m out.

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 2:08 pm

MJ, I never said it was a fancy restaurant. I said I was going out for a nice meal. No details have changed.

However, if it was a fancy, $100/plate, white tablecloths restaurant where the maitre de (sp?) allowed me to walk in and sit down with my baby, then it clearly is not for adults only.

I didn’t mean brief interruption to be 1 minute. I meant the entire meal. If one meal is “ruined” in your week, that is a brief interruption.

You say my issues aren’t more important, but then claim your’s to be more important than mine. If I want a meal in public, I’ll get one. If that bothers you, go to an adult only restaurant. You want me to respect your need for a quiet meal, but you don’t have to respect my need for a meal?

theattack theattack September 25, 2013, 1:52 pm

@LBH, “You, too, have a choice in where to eat, whether to go to a family friendly place, and what to do if you dinner is interrupted by others.”

I don’t want to speak for Miss MJ, but my understand of her comment was that it’s annoying in places that AREN’T family friendly. She said that she expects it in a normal restaurant, but not a nice, expensive place.

I see both sides of this. I completely expect this at Applebee’s, even though I’m always annoyed by babies, but if I’m going to the upscale French restaurant in town (yeah right), I think of that as mostly an adult space. I feel for parents who have babies at restaurants. That has to be really hard, and yes, you’re obviously entitled to eat at whatever restaurant you want. But why is it so wrong to ask for some adult-only space too? Why is it so wrong to want to be able to go somewhere without a kid grabbing at you or screaming in your ear or trying to eat off your plate or whatever? I don’t understand the idea that the general public has to be completely fine with kids terrorizing them in all public spaces just because it’s hard on parents to control them.

theattack theattack September 25, 2013, 1:52 pm


avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 2:01 pm

If a restaurant says children are not allowed there, then I would not go there with a child. If a restaurant says anyone is welcome, then I expect that to mean my children too. Just because you “think” a fancy restaurant is only for fancy adults, doesn’t mean it actually is. You are welcome to find a restaurant that does not allow children, just as I am welcome to go to any one that doesn’t.

I don’t know how you can use the words open to “general public” as a qualifier to not allowing misbehaving children. If you are in public, then expect that the rest of the general public will be there too.

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 2:03 pm

Basically, it is NOT wrong to ask for some adult-only space. But it is not on “you” to declare a space adult-only just because you think it should be.

theattack theattack September 25, 2013, 2:07 pm

Well it’s not up to me, no, but I think there’s a general cultural expectation that nicer places are quiet, calm, and relaxing.

Either way, in the middle of all of this yesterday I looked up adult-only restaurants in my area. Not a single one in my section of the state could be found. Nothing. Literally the only places that are kid free are bars, and even then people really fudge the rules on that too. So no, you can’t just find a restaurant that doesn’t allow children.

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 2:10 pm

Then if you have such issues with potential noise during meals, stay home. Is that rude to say? Because that’s what everyone is saying to us parents…stay home if your kid is loud. Equally rude.

avatar GatorGirl September 25, 2013, 2:14 pm

LBH, I don’t think people are trying to say “never leave your house if your kid might make a peep” but rather that taking a child to a fine dinning environment, where a certain level of quite is expected, might not be appropriate if the child can not behave that way.

theattack theattack September 25, 2013, 2:17 pm

No, I’m not saying that parents have to stay home. It’s a great time to get a babysitter if you’re going to a fancy place. Again, not Applebee’s. Honestly, I don’t know why a parent would want to take a baby to a restaurant anyway. It seems like it would be a lot of work and not relaxing.

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 2:18 pm

fwiw, I do think I’m reasonable most of the time. Its been quite a while since I’ve had a toddler, but I don’t remember allowing her to flip out in a $100/plate restaurant ever. I would’ve likely moved her outta there. That one experience was just that…one experience. I was losing my mind, Lil was too and I just wanted to enjoy one goddamn meal out. I tried to wish her noise away. I tried to ignore it. And I hope someone in there felt bad for me and understood. Rather than assume I suck as a mom and do this every night for dinner.

But my points stand and I find them to be fair and valid. It is crazy to me that anyone would think they are entitled to anything (other than people abiding by laws) in the general public.

theattack theattack September 25, 2013, 2:23 pm

Yeah, I’m tired of arguing this. I just have higher expectations of people clearly. I expect that if you’re a parent, you do what you can within reason so that your kid isn’t a burden on others in inappropriate situations. I expect that non-parents are kind enough to parents to overlook it when that doesn’t always work out, or when a kid does something unexpected. I expect that people are generally kind and respectful of each other. I don’t want to live in a world where people only follow things that are posted rules or laws because they don’t have to do anything else. Kill me now if that’s what everyone is going to start doing. Seriously.

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 2:27 pm

Ok, last comment then…child exist and always will. Parents are entitled to go anywhere they want that doesn’t say adults only. Sorry that sucks for some people to realize.

theattack theattack September 25, 2013, 2:29 pm

Well if you want to lay it out like that, then sorry it sucks when you realize that you’re annoying people around you and you get evil glares. You can’t have it both ways.

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 2:33 pm

And to that I say sorry people are nasty and unreasonable about babies.

theattack theattack September 25, 2013, 2:33 pm


avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 2:38 pm

TA, its just weird to me that someone would go out of their way to make a hard situation even harder. Glaring at a parent who ALREADY is dealing with a screaming kid 24 hours a day is pretty fucking hard to wrap my head around.

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 2:39 pm

Like, have some compassion. That mom is probably going home to chaos that will last years. Sure, they chose that, but still. How can you not be compassionate toward that?

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 2:40 pm

…whereas you are likely going home to peace and quiet after your two hour meal.

theattack theattack September 25, 2013, 2:44 pm

You’re missing my point. I do have compassion for those parents! I’ve said it several times. And if a parent actually is dealing with it but struggling, then no problem. I would never glare at a parent for that. I never have done that, and I can’t imagine I ever will. That’s completely wrong. But if you really just want to let your baby scream through graduation speeches and fancy dinners and someone’s wedding vows and Uncle Jerry’s funeral service without doing anything at all about it, then you have to accept that people will not appreciate that, and you will get glares and rude comments because it was equally rude of you to allow your child to ruin those occasions. Babies are not always appropriate. There are times and places where babies don’t get to run the show. We socialize them to act certain ways because those ways are the expectations of our culture.

theattack theattack September 25, 2013, 2:46 pm

And yes, I am going home to peace and quiet after my meal because I chose not to have a kid if I’m not ready to handle misbehaviors all the time.

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 2:51 pm

What? Babies of course are not “appropriate” THEY”RE BABIES! What a funny thing to say.

My initial point was while you THINK parents aren’t dealing with it because they aren’t shushing or running the kid out of the place (i.e. meeting your standard of parenting, which is always funny coming from non-parents), they may very well be teaching the baby that the baby won’t get its way in public by flipping out. Ignoring flip outs is a part of parenting correctly sometimes.

Basically, unless I bring my baby to your peace and quiet house, you really have no right to tell me what I should do or judge what I’m doing. Just because you personally feel something is not baby friendly doesn’t mean that’s true at all. And frankly, if someone glared at me when my baby started screaming, I’d probably stay as long as possible just to be as rude back to the glarer as they were to me. I kinda wish I could do that now.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 25, 2013, 1:07 pm

I feel you LBH. People need to quit thinking they own public. I always try to make kids laugh when they get fussy in public, and I feel like it’s only creepy if it doesn’t work. When it works it’s awesome. They’re distracted from whatever they were about to freak out about and happy and the parents look relieved and I got to stick out my tongue. Everyone wins.

muchachaenlaventana muchachaenlaventana September 25, 2013, 2:11 pm

People get annoyed at different things. Earlier something mentioned getting annoyed at people walking slow in grocery stores. Should you just never go to a grocery store because that annoys you? Or anywhere in public? If a child screaming in a nice restaurant annoys someone, saying they should never leave their house or just eat in their kitchen doesn’t make sense. Also they are allowed to get annoyed at it and say that as long as they aren’t rude and act on it. Just like you can get annoyed at slow walkers and say it and feel it just dont angrily pass them, glare at them, make huffy noises etc when you are behind one (have had all of this happen to me). You are right, noone owns public space. It is a respect thing and really goes both ways. People with no children should respect those that have them and realize that children are unpredictable and there is a level of if you go out you should expect to encounter children not being well-behaved all the time, and that the parents more often than not could use a little empathy rather than a scathing look. On the other hand, parents with children should respect that there are places children aren’t as appropriate to be at and if you have a child there and they are misbehaving or acting up for whatever reason, there are people there who may get annoyed and give you a look and sometimes its appropriate to take action and remove the child for a hot second. My parents used to take us out of restaurants and church, anywhere we were misbehaving so as not to bother other people. There were four of us all w/i 2 years of age. Respect. It goes both ways. Everyone (general not just DW) just needs to cut each other some fucking slack and stop caring as much about what other people think.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 25, 2013, 2:17 pm

I’m getting really bored with this conversation because I essentially have no skin in this game, but I think the main difference is that you can stop walking slow in a grocery store and not park your cart in the middle of the aisle. Sometimes there ain’t shit a parent can do to stop a tantrum. Sure they can eventually take them outside if they figure out it’s not going to stop for a long time, but there will be some disruption regardless for a little while if the kid decides he wants to scream.

avatar GatorGirl September 25, 2013, 2:21 pm

So us non-parents should be respectful and understand/not glare/be an asshole when a child has a tantrum…and then what I feel like your saying is that there isn’t a need for a mutual respect from the parent of the child to remove/clam them in a reasonable amount of time. That doesn’t make sense to me.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 25, 2013, 2:24 pm

I literally can’t explain it. I feel like I’m talking to a wall. We can go in circles about this all day long, but I don’t even know why I care anymore. You (as a child free person) can feel free to write a parenting book about the EXACT right way to handle the situation. And if a parent doesn’t conform to that way you feel free to think they’re doing it wrong.

theattack theattack September 25, 2013, 2:28 pm

The essence of this whole debate is that kids can be bothersome, and someone is going to have to take the brunt of that. Everything else is just debating whether it should be just the person who chose to have the kid or also strangers.

It bothers parents that kids are hard. I get that.
It bothers the general public when parents refuse to address their kid (not talking about when they’re trying but can’t).

None of us are ever going to agree on this, because clearly some of us think that kids are just a part of life and some of us think of kids as something you opt-in for.

Fabelle Fabelle September 25, 2013, 2:36 pm

Gah, you guys, this debate is still going? Why am I deciding to jump in?

Basically— I don’t think anyone is trying to argue that we should be all zen about a particularly scream-y kid? We’re just saying that sometimes scream-y kids are part of the public landscape, & all you can really do is cringe a little inside (if that’s your reaction) & not judge the parent.

I mean, sometimes you go to dinner & shit sucks. Who do you blame then? Sometimes there’s construction right outside, or the music is too loud, or the couple next to you is having a really pretentious conversation that you can hear every word of. Most people deal with that, so I don’t understand why screaming kids produces such ire?

So, that’s all I will say, I guess. Like iwanna, I have no skin in this game (sports analogies, I have no idea what even I’m saying) but I wanted to jump in & help diffuse. Hopefully.

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 2:37 pm


avatar GatorGirl September 25, 2013, 2:37 pm

IWTTS, I’m not even talking about how to do the parenting- rather a mutual respect everyone should have for everyone else. I shouldn’t be a dick when a child flips out, and the parent shouldn’t be a dick and let it go on for an hour. Same thing with a barking dog, or a drunk friend, or someone who’s smoking.

muchachaenlaventana muchachaenlaventana September 25, 2013, 2:41 pm

Which I acknowledged. I don’t get why it has to be a one-way street. My sister has a toddler who screams, yells, and has tantrums. When this happens in public she is sort of like oh shit sorry everyone because this is happening but if it carries on for overlong then she does something. She is a single mom. Like its not that hard. Also when the tantrum starts its not that hard for people to not glare or make snide looks. If you give respect you will get it. I feel badly when people apologize for their crying infant and then leave, but usually its because I have been empathetic to them with their child (smiles, looks, nods of encouragement) and they respect and appreciate that and return the favor and step out or the the bathroom or whatever. Its not necessary but its respectful and nice. People, all people need to be more self-aware and respectful of everyone around them and have some gd patience and understanding. I have no real investment in this either but do think people in this country walk around with an unhealthy amount of entitlement to everything. Be it eating in peace or never being disrupted in public or having a child wherever you feel like it and not paying heed to how that affects people around you. And this argument, on both sides, is demonstrative of that fact.

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 2:36 pm

But no one really HAS to take the brunt of it, nor do I think children are “bothersome.” They are children. If everyone could just be REASONABLE, no one would have to “take the brunt” of “bothersome” children. They could all just accept the reality of children existing and try to be normal and nice about it. I’m not taking my noisy baby out specifically to bother you. I’m taking my baby out because it exists! And I’m allowed to go out in public. Being out in public entails the very high chance of encountering a baby. If you can’t deal with that, I don’t know what else to say. Try stopping humanity entirely?

theattack theattack September 25, 2013, 2:39 pm

You really don’t think it’s bothersome when a kid is screaming at the top of their lungs? Is that music to your ears or something? It’s not wrong to admit that that is not pleasant to be around.

I think all of this is easy for you to say because you don’t mind babies.

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 2:42 pm

I’m not a huge fan of babies. I don’t plan on having more. I’ve never loved babysitting. But I am human and understand that babies exist and cry sometimes. This has nothing to do with the fact that I had a baby once.

avatar GatorGirl September 25, 2013, 2:44 pm

LBH, in my opinion part of “everyone being reasonable” is for the non-parents to understand a kid will cry and to not give dirty looks, and for the parent to remove/calm the kid if the crying/disturbance goes on for an extended time.

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 3:25 pm

GG, I’d totally agree with that.

avatar GatorGirl September 25, 2013, 3:34 pm

Well that’s all TA and I are trying to say! Mutual respect!

theattack theattack September 25, 2013, 3:34 pm


avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 3:35 pm

I’m not going to re-read, but that’s not what was being said or why people were offended.

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 3:36 pm

Or at least that wasn’t what TA was saying. I don’t remember what your stance was originally.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 25, 2013, 3:36 pm

I really feel like you three are trying to get in the last word on a horse that’s already been beaten to death, resurrected, and then murdered again. So suck on this. Last word.

theattack theattack September 25, 2013, 3:39 pm

No, that IS what I was saying, LBH….. And I don’t give a fuck about the last word. Please be my guest.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 25, 2013, 3:41 pm

Shit is it too soon to make dead horse jokes?

Fabelle Fabelle September 25, 2013, 3:52 pm

Guys look, Wendy commented below & said it IS rude when parents take kids to nice restaurants. That should end your fight, no? (I admit I haven’t been entirely keeping up with how this evolved, but I know the nice-restaurant thing has been mentioned a lot)

Miss MJ Miss MJ September 25, 2013, 4:00 pm

GG wrote: “in my opinion part of “everyone being reasonable” is for the non-parents to understand a kid will cry and to not give dirty looks, and for the parent to remove/calm the kid if the crying/disturbance goes on for an extended time.”

This is what I was trying to say, too, for the record. So. There. We all agree?

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 4:03 pm

Oh fine Miss MJ. We all agree. About everything. Way to take the fun out of everything! 😉
Oddly, I had no interest in this yesterday, but for some reason got all excited to debate it today.

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 3:49 pm

Hey, here’s something that happened a couple weekends ago when I was with friends and we had COMPLTELY OPPOSITE reactions to this. I’m interested to know how YOU would you have reacted?

It was one of those BEAUTIFUL Saturday afternoons in Chicago and everyone was out and about. A few friends and I were on a crowded sidewalk on Rush street walking to brunch. (For those who don’t know, on weekends – and in particular beautiful sunny weekends – Rush St. and Michigan Ave. are crowded as hell.) There was a little boy (maybe 3?) on one of those scooters and he had so much energy; he would have scooted himself right into the middle of the street. His poor dad (you could tell by his face and clothes that he was REALLY EXHAUSTED chasing after him) had to grab him by the shirt to keep him from running into people. Well we get to a stop light and a fairly big crowd stops to wait for the walk sign and this kid is trying to scoot ahead through people and I guess he was banging into the backs of people’s legs. I didn’t notice that. Anyway, he was right by my side and I patted him on the head and said “wow i like your scooter, you’re good at that!” And just then this older woman turns around and yells “no he’s not, he’s been banging into me for the last two blocks,” and then this other old lady chimes in “yea, control your kid!” I’m so embarrassed and I look at the dad and he’s just ignoring them; his eyes look glazed over anyway – he probably couldn’t hear them. Then the light turns green and we walk on and I turn to my friends and say “can you believe that?” And they’re all like “no, that dad needs to get his son off the sidewalk – it’s too crowded for him and the dad clearly can’t control him with that damn scooter” – or something like that. I was really shocked because I really thought the old ladies were out of line!

Anyway, what do you think? I felt bad for the dad. Come on, it’s the city, people live here, the kid had energy, big deal!

avatar kerrycontrary September 24, 2013, 3:58 pm

I think the old ladies were obnoxious for saying that and I wouldn’t have been bothered by the kid personally, but if it were my kid I wouldn’t take my 3 year old to ride his scooter on a very crowded sidewalk (I would find a quieter street is all).

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 4:02 pm

And I get that. But what if they lived on that street or were staying at a hotel on that street and they *were* en route to a quieter street? I don’t know, I was mostly just surprised to see such drastic responses. On the one end, me, thinking the kid was cute – so cute that I patted his head and talked to him – and on the other end those old ladies and my friends, who afterward talked for like a block about how obnoxious that kid and the dad were. Such different reactions!

I think I need a baby, that’s it. Ok, imma work on that.

avatar kerrycontrary September 24, 2013, 4:05 pm

I want you to have a baby! Since my opinion counts so much

avatar Bunnycsp September 24, 2013, 4:07 pm

I said something to that affect below. If I am on a street, in an Applebee’s, on an airplane, etc.. I am very understanding. It is when people with kids are in “adult places” that I get annoyed.

avatar GatorGirl September 24, 2013, 4:15 pm

Well there is the option that the kid doesn’t ride the scooter until they are on a street where it is safe and not crowded. Dad could carry it and hold kids hand while they walk down one of the busiest streets in Chicago. Also there is a huge ass park like right there…ride the scooter there!!

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 4:18 pm

It’s not “right there” – it’s 1/2 mile up the street. And on such a gorgeous day I bet all the sidewalks are crowded. So there were probably disapproving adults on the other sidewalks too.

Plus it’s the sidewalk; it’s for everyone; so I’m not buying the “this” sidewalk is inappropriate argument. Plus that kid was probably DYING to try his scooter out. I’m sticking to my side on this one. (Shocker.)

avatar GatorGirl September 24, 2013, 4:21 pm

Sure half a mile is a little far. I agree. But the sidewalk is for everyone to WALK on. Not scoot. I’d be just as pissed if a grown up was riding a bike on the sidewalk.

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 4:23 pm

Oh well THAT is against the law. I know because I got a ticket once. Fucking cops.

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 4:22 pm

Plus, what I would assume is really annoying to parents is when non-parents have so many solutions – like well, you could take your kid to that side of the side walk, or you could hold that for him, or you could do this or that, or if I had a kid I would at least do this in that situation — and I think what we don’t appreciate is, though in a perfect world the parent would like to do everything they could to make the situation optimal for all involved, right there in that moment the parent is just trying to make it to the next hour alive, you know?

avatar GatorGirl September 24, 2013, 4:26 pm

You’re first sentence is likely dead on. My initial thought was what if the kid falls of the scooters and into the street? Or what if he accidentally tripped someone and they fell into the street? Way to dangerous. (And also why I don’t think I could have kids in the city, the lack of open spaces stresses me out already.)

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 4:03 pm

I think both parties are obnoxious. It’s rude for those ladies to say that, but it’s also obnoxious (and dangerous!!!!) to let your kid act crazy on a scooter in a crowded street and run into people. That kid could have made those little old ladies fall down and break their fragile bones. There’s a point when parents need to put a stop to things for sure, but it doesn’t excuse rude comments either.

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 4:07 pm

Well, and to that I’d say the kid was within the normal range of rambunctious, if that makes sense; he was trying to go fast and he was going sideways a bit. But it’s not as if he was zooming down the sidewalk at full speed. He was literally 3. 3 year olds are tiny. And for the record the old ladies were like in their 60 and seemed healthy enough to carry multiple bags of new puchases from Barney’s.

So anyway, I get your point. It’s just funny how we have such completely opposite reactions. I see the danger in it and the annoyance of it – no one wants to be rammed in the heals by a scooter, I do – but it’s funny see “annoying” is the first thing many (most?) felt and “cute” is the first thing I felt about it.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 4:11 pm

That clarification definitely makes it less bad, but it still sounds dangerous to me. I would probably think it was cute too, but I would also be nervous for the safety of the kid and everyone. It’s even less okay for healthy people to be making those comments about it though, so I agree with you for sure.

Fabelle Fabelle September 24, 2013, 4:13 pm

Yeah, I’m with you— I probably would have thought he was cute, & the ladies were rude. Like, yes, it’s a crowded sidewalk, but what? Maybe he took your kid out, & then it suddenly got crowded, & he was walking him back… who even cares?

Also, kids run into your legs even sans scooter; has anyone noticed that? Sometimes I’m out in public, & a tiny child will make a beeline for somewhere that is, I assume, at a focal point beyond my legs, but wind up crashing into my legs. Usually I just go, “WHOOPS ahaha!!” & give their parents a smile (& the parents are usually incredibly apologetic, so sometimes I think the “asshole parent” thing gets overplayed a bit when people— in general, not here— complain?)

avatar kerrycontrary September 24, 2013, 4:24 pm

I love when random babies run into my legs. They are so cute. And then when they bump into you, they look so dazed haha.

avatar GatorGirl September 24, 2013, 4:30 pm

I love it when they think you’re their parent. It’s too cute when they realize you’re not.

The other day at Kohls this poor kid (maybe 3) lost his mom and was just SOBBING uncontrollably. I felt so bad for the little thing. He looked so relieved when I reached for his hand and smiled at him. He also didn’t speak a lick of English (or understand it) which totally complicated finding his mom but we found her.

avatar kerrycontrary September 24, 2013, 4:41 pm

I found a 2 year old in Burlington Coat Factory last winter. I could’ve literally walked off with the child. I had to find a store employee and find her mother. And her mom was just like “Oh I left her in the coats”. The whole store is coats!

avatar GatorGirl September 24, 2013, 4:07 pm

Completely agree. Both parties where in the wrong.

Miss MJ Miss MJ September 24, 2013, 4:41 pm

Yeah, I agree, too. There’s a time and place for everything, and a kid on a scooter on a busy sidewalk hitting people just isn’t the time or place. Dad should have known better or, if he didn’t expect the crowd, should have adjusted things so that his son wasn’t running into people on a scooter. That said, the ladies should have been more polite about telling dad that their son was hitting them.

avatar bethany September 24, 2013, 4:24 pm

I”m with the old ladies— You don’t ride a bike/razor scooter/whatever on a crowded city street.
In Philadelphia it’s against the law.

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 4:26 pm

It’s a 3 year old on a 3 year’s razor scooter! You want him in the bike line with the crazy bike riders?


avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 4:28 pm

It was probably a Fisher Price scooter for crying outline. (I mean, it still hurts when you get rammed in the back of the heal.) It wasn’t a bike or a vespa or something… Sigh.

avatar Addie Pray September 24, 2013, 4:33 pm

*outloud, not outline – ffs

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 4:30 pm

Now that you mention it, a 3 year old probably isn’t great at riding a scooter anyway and might be at danger to be knocked over and hurt by pedestrians. I agree with GG above. This is why I could never have a kid in the city. I want them to bike/scooter/run around in the driveway or a calm neighborhood really, but I know that’s not possible.

avatar bethany September 24, 2013, 4:34 pm

I don’t want him in a bike lane. I want him to go to a park or a street in a more residential part of the city. He could have gotten hurt, someone else could have gotten hurt. It’s just not safe or polite, for that matter.

avatar mcj2012 September 25, 2013, 3:24 pm

I’m with you AP! It’s a beautiful sunny day, the kid is out doors and basking in the sun! It’s better than him at the bar!

avatar Addie Pray September 25, 2013, 3:31 pm

oh finally some support. mcj, i love you.

avatar Lucy September 24, 2013, 10:23 pm

Dad should have taken the scooter away and walked with his son until they were somewhere less crowded. It’s irresponsible and rude to let your kid ram people on the sidewalk, period.

avatar Bunnycsp September 24, 2013, 4:03 pm

So, I have given the evil eye. I have to admit it. However, I will say that I have only given it in this one circumstance. It is the “Why are you here?” circumstance. Not to get off topic but, I know I don’t have kids but I know one thing for sure; when God finally gives me a kid, the offspring won’t be at an upscale restaurant or at a concert at 11 PM. The one thing that I have seen more and more are kids in places that used to be adult only. I know part of that is a backlash to the terrible food served at “family restaurants” or even trying not to be taken over by parenthood entirely, but I don’t think it is the worlds responsibility to adjust because a person became a parent. For example, I was at a BeerFest last weekend. It was strict no one under 21 and there were people at the gate yelling at security because they couldn’t bring their baby in. But should there be babies at a Beerfest? another example is we have season tickets to the Phillies. There are people in our row that have a baby and got two tickets for the three of them. Sometimes the kid is good and sometimes he screams like a banshee. Should they really have Sunday Season tickets that always are going to go over nap time? It isn’t one game but a habitual decision. I completely know that I have no idea how hard it is, but there are places in the world that I don’t think I have to deal with it either.

theattack theattack September 24, 2013, 4:07 pm

Agreed. There should be some adult-only places. Babies definitely don’t belong in Beerfest or in movie theatres at midnight.

avatar GatorGirl September 24, 2013, 4:11 pm

I disagree about the baseball game in the afternoon (that’s pretty much a guaranteed FAMILY event), but later in the evening movies/restaurants/bars all should be kid free. Babies do not need to be sitting through a rated R movie at 10pm on a Tuesday, nor do they need to see me scream expletives at the tv while pounding beers during another Eagles loss.

avatar Bunnycsp September 24, 2013, 4:43 pm

It is fair to say baseball games are family friendly. however, they get season tickets an the kid wants to run around and they want to sit so the kid just screams. He is too little to sit through a game week after week.

Moneypenny Moneypenny September 24, 2013, 4:22 pm

A concert/movie/beerfest are perfect examples of opportunities to hire a babysitter.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson September 24, 2013, 4:31 pm

I get so excited when I see kids in bars on gameday during the day, because I’m normally getting drunk, and when I get drunk all I wish for in life is some little kid to dance with or some puppy to hug.

avatar bethany September 24, 2013, 4:28 pm

My favorite local restaurant/bar has a nice bar area with tables you can eat at. They also have a totally separate dining area. They have a strict no one under 21 allowed in the bar area policy posted on the front door, which I believe specifies that it applies to children, too. I like that.
I’m all about kids, but I’m also all about “Adult Only” places.

muchachaenlaventana muchachaenlaventana September 24, 2013, 4:53 pm

this isn’t related as much but I know a lot of people on here have pets. the other day i was at this event at a winery with tons of dogs, children etc. people set up blankets/their cars and tailgate its a great day. so me and my friends and my dog set up under a tree in the shade, noone really too close. my dog is really timid, she was on a leash sitting next to me. on my blanket. i am talking to my friends and gorging on cheese and next thing i know i look up and this little girl, probably 2.5 or 3 is in my dogs face grabbing her. literally on her face. all up in her grill. I about died because my dog who is petrified of most people could easily have snapped at her or anything, she hasn’t had much exposure to babies and is a rescue and i immediately assessed the situation and realized, thank god my dog wasn’t totally spooked but i moved her and explained to the child that that is dangerous and my dog is very scared of people and that its better to always ask if you can touch a dog. things like this though INFURIATE ME because if my dog had snapped at her i would have been in the wrong even though this babies parents were nowhere in the vicinity and NO SHIT they were relying on like a 7 year old to watch her. i think that a lot of times people with children are not self-aware and don’t take responsibility for their child’s actions. anyways end of rant.

avatar painted_lady September 24, 2013, 5:50 pm

Oh my god, a few years back I discovered that my dog doesn’t like kids because my stupid neighbor let his six year old ride him like a horse. No, is this okay, is he okay with kids – I had JUST gotten him and had no clue – but I was panicked to the point of being tongue-tied. I tried to explain quickly and politely that he can be scared of people, and the dad talks over me to tell me it’s okay, when my dog turns and snaps at the kid. Didn’t hurt her, but scared the shit out of her (and me), and the dad just laughed. My dog is 60 pounds. He’s a labradoodle – he was taller than the kid. I still freak out thinking about it.

avatar vizslalvr September 24, 2013, 9:48 pm

I’m totally late to this party, but I SO understand. My dog is actually very good with kids. But nothing annoys me more than when parents allow their child to do crazy things with him. You don’t know my dog is sweet, and like a toddler, dogs do not have rational thought and communicate with words as to their discomfort before acting out. So, a tantrum throwing toddler is going to at worst annoy other humans, whereas my 70 lb. dog can maim your toddler.

So, please please please, parents, teach your children to interact with dogs properly.

My older cousin has two kids (1.5 and 3, the older of whom has autism so can be an extra handful in social situations), and I LOVE the way she handles them around my dog. If they so much as walk to the rear of him, touch his tail, touch his mouth, etc. she firmly tells them, “No, whenever you touch a dog you have to ask the owner first. Say, Vizslalvr, can I pet your dog? And then touch them like this!” and she will take their hand and pet them standing in the dog’s line of vision along their back/shoulder with the grain of fur.

Like, seriously. Parent of the year award. Because while she knows it is so unlikely my dog would do anything to hurt them (he’s a giant ball of sweetness), not all dogs are nice. And not all nice dogs are nice all the time. Just as any child with little rational thinking/impulse control is going to freak out if you start prodding them, pulling at them, etc., so are a lot of dogs.

avatar starpattern September 24, 2013, 4:46 pm

Wendy, I like reading what you have to say about parenting because it is always so honest. You sound like an awesome parent… Maybe I’ll be awesome if/when I have a kiddo as well. 🙂

To the general topic, I always try not to give the side eye. Most parents are just going about their business and trying their very best, and the last thing I want to do is make their day worse. That said, if it is truly bothering me, I will do what I can to get out of the situation. For example, I will absolutely ask a restaurant hostess to move me to another table if children near me are being excessively loud (if it’s hard to carry on a conversation with the people I’m with) or trying to climb on the back of my chair or whatever. I’m sure the parents notice that kind of stuff, and I hope they don’t necessarily take it as judgment – I’m just trying to enjoy my leisure time as much as possible.

avatar Sue Jones September 24, 2013, 7:11 pm

Getting my son off of his allergens (soy, gluten, dairy) and getting him on a good constitutional homeopathic remedy helped calm my kid down. I also did “time ins” rather than “time outs” when my kid went bonkers. So when he tantrumed I would pick him up and hug and kiss him. Worked for him – most of the time. (Nothing and I mean nothing works all of the time). Also love and logic choices (do you want to come down off the table by yourself or do you want me to help you get down? ) (Do you want to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt? ) basically giving him 2 choices that seem different, but are basically the same thing ( getting off the table, putting on a shirt) sometimes helps… Every kid is different. He will grow out of it , so hang in there!

avatar Sue Jones September 24, 2013, 7:16 pm

A lot of that is that they are frustrated that they cannot communicate what they need. Learning Baby signs really helped during this age. We took a class together. Before he could use words he could sign. So he could tell me when he was hungry, scared, when he saw things like a dog, a bird, etc. IT was really fun, too! I am not sure if it is as big a thing as it was 10 years ago.. because admittedly that phase before they can learn words passes quickly and many parents just don’t think it is worth it, but it was fun when my 13 month old could “talk” to me. Maybe by 2 he can already talk?

Dear Wendy Wendy September 24, 2013, 7:27 pm

Jackson learned some signs early on (he’s actually signing at the beginning of the video clip above, albeit a wrong sign for the word “more,” but that’s our fault). Now, he can talk pretty well, so we don’t need baby signs. He was a fairly early talker and can definitely communicate when he’s hungry, ready for a nap, hot, etc. The problem is, he doesn’t always know what his issue is, which is normal for a toddler. He’s what my child psychologist friend (and mother of jackson’s BFF) would call “disorganized” — his emotions are just all over the place a lot of the time (also normal). I know it will pass. The day-to-day just gets pretty exhausting though and sometimes the end of this phase seems so far away.

avatar Sue Jones September 24, 2013, 7:32 pm

It IS exhausting! I remember when my son was around 3 I finally weaned him (yes, I know… 3 years is a long time) and my husband started working evenings. I started going to bed around 7:30-8PM when he did (more like falling into a coma in his bed after storytime because I was finally lying down) and I would sleep for 12 hours straight! I did that for an entire year! I just really needed to catch up on my sleep! Those years before kindergarten were some of the toughest and rewarding years of my life!

Skyblossom Skyblossom September 26, 2013, 9:39 am

That’s interesting. I’ve never heard of “disorganized” and it sounds difficult. My kids always knew what they wanted so it was probably easier to direct their attention to what I knew would work. The best you can do is try different things to see if anything works but in end he’ll grow older and grow out of it. The thing with phases is that they can begin and end suddenly so you never know when one is around the corner and you never know when one will end so it can seem endless.

I saw an article a few years ago about times when a couple was more likely to divorce and having a toddler was one of those times because it is so difficult. Any underlying problems are blown up by the stress of a toddler. They really are that stressful.

avatar AKchic September 24, 2013, 7:36 pm

It’s living hell some days. But hilarious others. We’re still learning “patience”. The phrase “have I waited” is heard a lot.

avatar lemongrass September 24, 2013, 8:40 pm

It’s disappointing to read a lot of comments that basically read “well that situation is okay but here’s a situation where I can freely judge this parent.” It totally misses the point of the post. No matter what you do as a parent you are judged: breastfeeding, formula, co-sleeping, sleep training, staying at home, working, publicly disciplining or ignoring a tantrum. You can’t please everybody but more importantly you don’t need to. Your job as a parent is to take care of your child, not the stranger glaring at you because your kid is being a kid.

Wendy, it is obvious that you are a great parent. Fuck the haters.

avatar Jenny September 24, 2013, 9:10 pm

Yes to this a million times. How can you say “it’s important not to judge” but then go on and on about all the crappy parents you see all the time? I feel like the message was lost here.

theattack theattack September 25, 2013, 9:54 am

Where do you draw the line though? No, I’m not going to judge for something that is harmless (ie: the things that you mentioned), but there really are some things that are terrible. And sorry, but part of my job is to judge parenting and teach parents how to do it better. I judge parents all the time for legitimate bad parenting because not everything is okay to do. Some things really are just wrong, and it’s only natural to judge that. No, I don’t know everything that’s going on in the home, but I know that if you’re letting your kid play in a busy street you’re doing it wrong.

And as long as you’re not a dick about it, it’s perfectly fine to have opinions about normal things too. DW is a place where we discuss things all the time, so expressing those opinions isn’t telling someone they’re doing it wrong. It’s literally just having a discussion. An opinion isn’t an accusation when it’s just part of a general discussion.

avatar lemongrass September 25, 2013, 11:01 am

But on the post where Wendy is asking you to cut some slack for parents? Her heartfelt essay about how much it sucks to be judged as a parent? Absolutely judge the parents in your job, ta. But here on this post it was inappropriate.

theattack theattack September 25, 2013, 11:19 am

I would agree if people had judged for things that were normal, like tantrums. That’s what Wendy was writing about mostly. I will always judge someone for threatening to beat their kids or essentially make them homeless or for letting them potentially hurt little old ladies. I think what I (and most everyone) judged on this post were things that are on a completely different level than what Wendy was talking about. I agree with Wendy on what she said, and I want to respect parents and their reasonable decisions. I also agree with you that parents don’t have to please other people, and their job is to take care of the kid. When they’re neglecting to do that is when I start judging.

avatar lemongrass September 25, 2013, 11:49 am

It’s not that you were judging neglectful or abusive parents that is the issue. It’s that there is a time and place for discussions like that and this post was not it. Although I was more talking about the posts about kids running around stores or out at games/ concerts/ parties.

theattack theattack September 25, 2013, 1:44 pm

Fair enough. Maybe it was insensitive. If it was, then I’m sorry to Wendy for saying that here. I just thought of it as a jumping off point for discussion, and kind of a way to say that all of these problems (tantrums) are not anywhere close to important things to judge someone over, and there are way worse things to worry about.

avatar Jenny September 25, 2013, 1:28 pm

I agree with lemongrass here. It just wasn’t the place. I’m a social worker too, TA. I’ve seen some truly horrible shit. But even some of the situations you’re talking about here – like parents yelling at their kids in public – you don’t know the whole story there either. One bad moment does not make someone a bad parent. Should a parent threaten to put their kid in foster care? Absolutely not. But instead of just labeling someone a shitty parent, perhaps try and have some compassion. I know it’s hard to be in social work and not be judgmental and think the worst, but it is SO important to reserve judgment as much as possible.

But I think the whole thread of “did I tell you about THIS crappy parent?” Was really unnecessary on this post.

theattack theattack September 25, 2013, 1:41 pm

1) I haven’t labeled anyone a shitty parent for crying out loud. I have simply stated very few opinions here about what parents are responsible for, namely safety.
2) I do not lack compassion. This is just a freaking discussion. I’m learning that I can’t talk about ANYTHING on DW without someone taking it as a personal attack anymore, and that’s ridiculous.
3) Maybe it wasn’t the place for it, and I’m sorry if it bothered Wendy, but I’m also not being a judgmental asshole like you’re making me out to be.
4) I would love to get to know you and what you do and who you are, but it’s off-putting to me that you’re acting like you know me inside and out when I’ve only seen you comment a handful of times.
5) Social workers are generally LESS judgmental than the general population, not more. I don’t even get that argument.

avatar Jenny September 25, 2013, 3:11 pm

Sorry, I obviously offended you and that wasn’t my intention. I don’t think you’re a judgmental asshole. I think you use being a social worker as an excuse to judge parents, which I think is uncool. I get where you’re coming from, and I’m not someone who thinks that only parents can judge other parents – but I do think that only parents know how hard it is to be a parent, and a certain level of compassion arises from that. Again, don’t think you’re a jerk at all – but I do think you tend to take things very personally, which is a trait of other commenters that bothers you. I was not offended by anything you said. My original comment wasn’t in regard to you, actually. I don’t want to fight, I promise!

theattack theattack September 25, 2013, 3:21 pm

How can you say that I take things personally but I’m annoyed when other people do? You’re popping out of nowhere acting like you know me. That’s not cool either. And yeah, all of us take things personally. It’s annoying when your statement is taken the wrong way, and it’s hurtful when someone says something negative that applies to you. That’s true of everyone.

As far as the social worker comment goes, I’m not using that as an excuse. I’ve mentioned it twice here: first to admit that I sometimes jump to extremes, and second to say that I’m paid to judge parents and some things are objectively wrong in our society. That’s not an excuse.

It’s obviously perfectly fine for you to tell me I’m wrong, but it’s weird for you to make some sort of profile of who you think I am when you haven’t said anything about yourself. I’m admittedly defensive of that here.

avatar Jenny September 25, 2013, 3:34 pm

I said that because I didn’t think my comment warranted your response; I thought you were overreacting a bit. And again, I do apologize if I worded things poorly. I said you don’t like when other people take things personally because you said that in your response to me. I don’t think I’m acting like I know you – I’m making observations based on your comment to me. I don’t think I’m “popping out of nowhere”, but ok. I’m interested to know what you do that makes you get paid to judge parents? I worked for a while with kids in foster care, and I’ve done parenting classes, but I wouldn’t say I’ve been “paid to judge parents”. I realize you’re not being literal, I’m just wondering what your job is.

avatar Jenny September 25, 2013, 5:18 pm

Ok, TA, let’s start over. I was typing my comments to you at work on my phone, so I was valuing speed above all else, which is unwise. I do not think you’re judgmental, in fact, I think often times when discussions about parenting arise, you’re often very accepting and are able to offer a lot of insight. One discussion that comes to mind was when you were talking about why a parent might not feed their child healthy, fresh food all the time. I think in this conversation, a similar opportunity was missed. I don’t think you were the one that was being inappropriate, but I do think the overall message was missed. That sometimes, even parents who seem pretty lousy, really aren’t…they’re having a lousy moment. I was disappointed that the conversation went from “well, sure, we shouldn’t judge parents like Wendy, but it’s okay to judge THESE parents…”. I thought that missed the point of this post entirely. And again, I don’t think YOU were the culprit…you were the one who responded to this particular thread, though, which is why my comments were directed at you. I made the comment about as a social worker its important to not be too judgmental because I myself have times where I forget that, and I only see the bad in people, or am frustrated with humankind. And I think it’s cool there’s people like you with inside knowledge that can point out to people that it’s not always so black and white. I just think you could have done that here, you know? No hard feelings, I hope…I do think you bring a very valuable perspective and I value your opinions.

avatar greymama September 24, 2013, 9:14 pm

Amen! I am a well-educated, loving, involved mom and still there are days when my daughter is crabby and whiny and difficult. And, to be honest, there are days when I am crabby and difficult, too, because being a parent is exhausting. Those moments are, like Wendy said, one snapshot in a life that has a lot of happiness and laughter.

I think about how smug and judgmental I was before I had a kid, and I want to invent a time machine just so I can go back and smack myself. I had no idea.

avatar sarolabelle September 24, 2013, 10:28 pm

This is late – but once when I was 8 my mom, sister, aunt and I were in the local Pick n Save now known as Big Lots. Well we were standing in line to checkout and my mom was going to buy me these awesome purple tight like pants. I was so excited. Purple was my favorite color. As we are waiting my mom says “we aren’t getting these, let’s go.” Wait what? What did I do? Why can’t I get the purple pants? What is going on? She is on her way to go put them back on the rack…. “But mom, I want those pants. Please” “Nope, they are made of out the wrong material, we are leaving.” “I don’t care. I want those pants. Please” I start to cry. “Come on now, stop crying and come on” My aunt, mom and sister all head for the door and I stand there crying. My mom says “I’m not joking, come on we are leaving.” I run back to the rack, grab the pants and stand in line as if my mom is just going to change her mind. I am still crying. My mom then comes over grabs the pants from me, grabs me by the arm, puts the pants on the rack and pulls me out the store by my arm. “Mama, please, I want those pants. Please.” I am screaming crying now. My mom is pulling me out the store. Through the parking lot. She puts me into the car and I scream to her, “I hate you.” She then turns around from the front seat and smacks me on the butt 5 times and she says “when I say we are leaving, it means we are leaving. I’m the boss”…..I didn’t speak to her for the rest of the day.

Only one of the MANY moments we had…..and I wasn’t a toddler…..

avatar Addie Pray September 25, 2013, 10:30 am

I’m dying to know if you EVER got purple pants to make up for it? I deserve some purple pants. Everyone needs some purple pants from time to time.

avatar sarolabelle September 25, 2013, 4:27 pm

never got purple pants. 🙁

JK JK September 25, 2013, 7:26 am

Beautiful Wendy.I had to come out of my self imposed exile (due in part to idiotic comments like you mention) to read this when I saw the link on Facebook.
Parenting a toddler is hard, and it DOES get better.But every phase does have its ups and downs. Just yesterday my 5 y o had a meltdown because her sister broke her paper airplane And those strangers on the street who look at you bad? Let them. Either they know nothing, or they´ve forgotten what it´s like, just like you said.

Dear Wendy Wendy September 25, 2013, 7:56 am

JK! You’ve been missed.

JK JK September 25, 2013, 8:08 am

Aw, thanks.

avatar Addie Pray September 25, 2013, 10:40 am

Come back, this site is missing the perspective of a New Zealand-in-Argentina-no nonsense-mom-who-agrees-with-AP-99.9%-of-the-time, you know what I mean?

JK JK September 25, 2013, 11:31 am

Especially because of that 99.9% thing, right?

avatar Addie Pray September 25, 2013, 12:32 pm

wellll, it’s nice

avatar Addie Pray September 25, 2013, 10:40 am

Also you have to come back because I’m planning a DW meetup in Beunos Aires.

JK JK September 25, 2013, 11:30 am

But of course! (it´s Buenos Aires by the way, haha)

avatar Addie Pray September 25, 2013, 3:30 pm

Next you’re going to tell me it’s favour, and neighbour, and whatevour.

Fabelle Fabelle September 25, 2013, 8:39 am

Aw, JK! Where you beeeen?

JK JK September 25, 2013, 9:05 am

Fabelle! Hi! To be honest some stuff was stressing me out, and like I said I got a bit fed up with some comments etc. And of course my life is hectic (you know since my kids aren´t perfect little angels they take up a lot of my time haha). How have you been?

avatar Addie Pray September 25, 2013, 10:30 am

^ Lame excuse. Come back, help me fight the good fight. Whatever that means, just come back!

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 10:37 am

How is the house building coming along? Is it done?

Fabelle Fabelle September 25, 2013, 10:42 am

I’ve been good, we missed you here! When I saw your name on the sidebar this morning, I was like “Oh shit, it’s JK!!!!!” (in my head, of course. haha)

avatar jlyfsh September 25, 2013, 9:43 am

Nothing like a sibling to get a good meltdown started 😉 I think I told my Mom more than once I wanted to send her back, haha. Good thing I love her now! 🙂

avatar lets_be_honest September 25, 2013, 10:37 am

JK!!!!!! Welcome back! I’ve missed you!

avatar Something Random September 25, 2013, 8:35 am

Hi Wendy, Don’t have time to read all the comments but I needed this today! I have a spirited two year old and I can tell you his personality is night and day from his brother. This shit is hard, really fucking hard, and I’ve done it before. Even in the same family, each kid is different. The challenges of trying to keep up with learning who your kid is and what works best for him through each developmental stage, enviorionmental setting, and moment of conflict is exhausting. We do the best we can an internet-age with unprecedented amounts of research, advice, scrutiny, and judgement from the child-less to the mom-peditors. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for something supportive. You sound like you are doing a wonderful job, Jackson is lucky to have such committed and balanced parents.

avatar Addie Pray September 25, 2013, 8:45 am

WSRS x 100!

Classic Classic September 25, 2013, 3:04 pm

Phew! There you go. I am the freak whose kid never ever had a single tantrum. But if I had ever had a second kid, that one surely would have been a handful.

avatar GatorGirl September 25, 2013, 3:09 pm

Hold the phone…a parent who says their kid didn’t have tantrums?? Turns out they do exist! My mother wasn’t lying or having selective memory!

Classic Classic September 25, 2013, 3:25 pm

It is funny, but I think he was always trying to help make it easy to take care of him. For example: When he was a toddler, I would take him to the park to play, and then put him in his carseat and make sure that the drive home was long enough for him to fall asleep, and then once we got home I would take off his shoes while he was still sleeping in the carseat and very, very carefully pick him up and carry him and put him on his bed for a nap. But one time while he was sleeping in his carseat, I forgot to take his shoes off and started to pick him up to carry him and his little voice murmured “You forgot to take off my shoes.”

avatar GatorGirl September 25, 2013, 3:31 pm

He sounds adorable. I want to squeeze that little boy in your memory. Too cute!

avatar Something Random September 25, 2013, 8:12 pm

Super cute

avatar Something Random September 25, 2013, 7:59 pm

Just to clarify. Neither of my kids were “easy” or “difficult” they just went through phases that were both. My kids had different needs at the same ages. My first son had a severe milk protein allergy as an infant, had horrible sleeping issues, and then a speech delay and some other sensory issues that required therapy. He was walking around by nine months and loved anything that moved. He is extremely sweet and affectionate. He is geared towards engines and machines, balls and sports. My second son is very chatty and clearly asserts what he wants. He was a much lower maintenane infant and was an excellent napper. He was much slower to reach physical milestones and would roll across a room to get to books as a baby (as opposed to balls). He likes singing and dancing and signing classes more than my first. He also has much more explosive temper tantrums at stores. I love them both so much my insides ache and I feel it is an incredible privilege and most often such a pleasure to be their parent.

My only point was that even if you are an experienced mom, your experience doesn’t necessarily translate to others. To quote someone random on my Facebook
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

Skyblossom Skyblossom September 26, 2013, 9:03 am

My husband likes to tell people that when our second child was born we thought we at least knew what we were doing but we were wrong. Our kids were so different we had to start over like new parents again.

avatar Something Random September 25, 2013, 9:46 am


Dear Wendy Wendy September 25, 2013, 2:56 pm

FWIW, I think it’s totally rude of parents to drag their kids to places like “nice” restaurants, bars, or PG and above-rated movies past like 6 PM (or any time at all for movies that aren’t meant for kids). I mean, I used to take Jackson to bars when he was a little baby, but only during the daytime and only until he was about 9 months old. We will still take him to restaurants occasionally, but only family-friendly restaurants and only between 8 am and 6 pm because he can be, as I’ve said, a PITA (pain in the ass) and there’s no reason why people who are trying to relax should have to put up with it. I would expect people to give us the side-eye if we were sitting in a fine dining establishment — or, really, any kind of restaurant — with a screaming toddler and not removing him from the situation. A tantrum in a grocery store or on the subway or in line at the coffee shop or just walking down the street is a different thing though, and it’s those kinds of situations that I’m really referring to in this essay.

JK JK September 25, 2013, 4:05 pm

Thanks for saying what I wanted to! PLus seriously, I can think of no better way for a toddler/little kid to get bored and tantrumy than taking him/her to a nice restaurant? I mean it is so boring for them, of course they´re going to act out!
FWIW, with my eldest we DID go to nicer restaurants, knowing she´d behave. Since our youngest is… shall I say rambunctious, we stick to family style places, preferably with play areas, that way everybody is happy.

mylaray mylaray September 25, 2013, 3:26 pm

I really think there should be more kid-free restaurants/movies, etc and also more family friendly restaurants and places for people with kids. But there are also plenty of public places you just can’t do that with, like a grocery store. I mean, screaming kids certainly bother me, but I also find it REALLY easy to tune out when I’m not the one having to deal with it. It’s also not that hard to go to another section of a store and come back later to that aisle. And yes, I hate screaming kids, even more so because they are not my own and I only see that sliver of their day, but I do try to hold my judgment for those parents. Especially because you never know if they are ignoring on purpose. I could definitely see myself doing that someday.

Also, I remember buying some daytime movie tickets online for a small local theater and it was the last theater in the area playing this movie, so I was really excited to go see it. I arrive there with my SO and we drove over an hour to get there, and I’m wondering why there are all these babies in strollers waiting in line. Well, we come to find out that that time showing was a baby friendly showing, which I honestly don’t get why babies (not toddlers) and it was an R rated movie. I don’t care if a place wants to have a young children friendly showing (I think that’s cool and helps people not bring screaming young children to later shows), but I was livid that it wasn’t listed anywhere online and they refused to refund us our money when I said we were no longer interested in watching an R rated movie with a dozen or so screaming babies. I just wish the theater clearly stated that so we didn’t waste our time and money for that.

I think when/if I become a parent a family friendly movie showing would be awesome, but I also wouldn’t want people who are bothered by that to be there, so I think things need to be clearly stated, just like I have no problem with a restaurant saying no kids. That’s okay, that’s their decision and their customer base will be based off of that.

Skyblossom Skyblossom September 26, 2013, 8:26 am

It’s been a while, like 11 years since I had a toddler so I spent some time thinking and remembering what we did to see if I could come up with anything that could help. Like you said, all kids are different so what worked for us may do nothing at all for you. I know that some of the things that we did with our son didn’t work with our daughter. Part of how I handled things reflected our belief that we respect all people. So some things were negotiable but some things weren’t. So what you wear to the playground is negotiable, as long as it is weather appropriate but hitting is never allowed because we don’t hit, which is one reason I never spanked my kids, in our home we don’t hit.

In a situation where you are at home and a tantrum happens you can pick him up and put him in his room and leave him there until he behaves more appropriately. (I know this may not work for you.) If I was trying to get my child dressed and they hit me I would stop immediately and say we don’t hit and leave them in their room and I would shut the door so that they were in time out. If that meant they didn’t get dressed in time to make it to the playground that would be a natural consequence of their behavior. If you can get dressed without a tantrum you can go to the playground. If you can’t get dressed without a tantrum you don’t get dressed and we don’t go to the playground without getting dressed. I would say something very simple along the lines of “We don’t hit,” and then immediately leave them there with their tantrum. If they had a tantrum on the way to the playground I would turn around immediately and go home and say, “This isn’t working today, you can try again tomorrow.” They learn pretty quickly that if they want to do things they have to maintain a certain behavior. If they hit someone at the playground they would be picked up instantly and taken home and I would say, “We don’t hit, you can try again tomorrow.”

At the same time that we had strict rules in certain areas, like acceptable ways to treat other people, we are very laid back so we have fairly relaxed rules on many things. If you want to wear mismatched clothes to the playground, fine. If you want to wear shorts to the playground in the middle of the winter, not fine. If you want to nap on the couch instead of your bed, fine. My son carried sticks into the house every day in the summer when he was a toddler, that was fine. Hitting someone with a stick, not fine.

Skyblossom Skyblossom September 26, 2013, 8:57 am

If my child had a tantrum while choosing a TV program or while watching a TV program I would turn off the TV and say this isn’t working, you can try again tomorrow. I always liked to emphasize that they could try again, this wasn’t the end of the world, and it wasn’t punitive. I would be matter of fact and then go on with what I was doing so that they didn’t get much attention for the undesirable behavior.

For situations where you’re shopping it is more difficult because you can’t just leave a half filled grocery cart and take the child home. We tended to reward the kids for good behavior. Our son loved to see trains so if he was well behaved when we shopped in the town that had railroad tracks we would drive over the railroad tracks on the way home. It’s a busy set of tracks so we often saw trains. If he didn’t behave up to our standards we went home without going over tracks. We didn’t spend too much time emphasizing the bad behavior, we’d just say that things didn’t go so well today so we’re going straight home. Can you tie grocery shopping to something that Jackson likes to do? Maybe sit and watch trucks for five minutes or go home some way that takes you past a fire station or someplace that has something he finds fascinating on the way home. Something that he likes that he can look forward to doing on the way home or as soon as you get home. Explain how it will work before you go shopping and again as you arrive at the store and then for the first few times make the trip brief so that he is sure to make it through without a tantrum and get the reward so that he sees how it all works. I know you probably already do this but just in case, make sure he isn’t too tired when you and that he isn’t hungry. My son had a massive appetite and he needed constant snacks. I’d offer him something that would hold him for a while, like cheese cubes, and make sure we had some to eat on the way to and from the store.

The one bright spot in all of this is that although boys tend to be more difficult toddlers, girls tend to be more difficult teens. In twelve years you may be smiling because you have it easier while the parents of the girls are having a much more difficult time. In about two years it will be getting easier. I know that when my kids were preschoolers it didn’t seem like time flew by but now that they are older it seems that they grew up fast. Out son is 22 and my husband and I look at each other and ask how did that happen? We feel like we’re 22 and but we’re really 51. How did that happen?

I hope that at least some little bit of this helps.

avatar marin September 26, 2013, 10:25 am

When my littler cousin was two years old, he would throw the worst tantrums in the world. Once he was pushing around one of those big plastic cars that he could get inside, and when it got stuck he started yelling, hitting it and biting the plastic! It was kind of funny but also alarming to see such a young child have such a violent response!
When he was a few years older, he slammed a door so hard that the glass fell off. Luckily nobody was injured, but everyone was pretty scared.

Now he is about to turn 8 and he is as sweet as pie. He is kind, he shares, and he can talk the hind legs off a donkey (he started talking really well around 2 and never stopped, hehe). He still occasionally has some tantrums, of course, but never as severe as before. Of course, I’m not with him every single day, but I see him quite often and the transformation was evident and it really does sweep by.