UNPOPULAR OPINION: We Need to Stop Discriminating Against Children Just for Being Children

Infants and toddlers can become super overwhelmed if placed in a noisy, crowded room full of people they don’t know. But it isn't their fault; they can’t talk, so they yell.
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Ashlie Hollis
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Infants and toddlers can become super overwhelmed if placed in a noisy, crowded room full of people they don’t know. But it isn't their fault; they can’t talk, so they yell.

I gotta give it up for my fellow Gen-Ys -- the whole "I choose to not have kids, so I shouldn’t have to deal with them" propaganda has got a serious following these days. And it’s forcing parents to rethink bringing their kids, well, anywhere, at the risk of ruining yet another bar crawl. 

Not gonna lie, I’m a little ticked that more and more people have adopted this way of thinking. So now, if I go out with my daughter, I’m cautious as hell that someone will take it upon themselves to discipline her and then I’ll go to jail for smacking a stranger.

I can’t really decide if America has gone completely crazy or not in the past few years. Maybe it’s the police brutality leading to race wars? Maybe it’s the new world order for same-sex couples? Or maybe it’s the destruction of the confederate flag? All these things and more are throwing things off kilter for many. In light of these "new normal" ways I guess people have decided to put their displaced anger on something they know they can get away with -- discriminating against toddlers.

Very recently an incident has made its way to the Twitter-verse. A woman named Darla, owner of Marcy's diner in Portland, Maine, decided that it was her place and right to yell "SHUT UP" at a fussy 2 year-old in her restaurant -- and people are praising her for it!?! And for a split second I was one of them! 

Thankfully I was smacked back into reality a few moments later. I decided to read some of the comments and boy, were those a doozy. One side of the story -- the owner’s story -- has made it around the internet but the other side, the one of the parents, has managed to go unsung. Apparently the diner opener completely over-exaggerated the entire account. According to the parents, the toddler cried for about ten minutes waiting for special 40-minute pancakes, and the diner owner, as well as the staff, and other patrons began to complain. That's when the yelling happened.

What kind of diner is this chick running exactly? And why was she so focused on this one child and not everything else -- like cooking? She slammed her hands on the counter and told her to "SHUT UP." You could literally hear childless people give a sigh of relief as the news of this brave soul swept over the inter-web. Really now? Shit's that deep?

I looked over at my own 2-year-old, it got me wondering; would I really be alright with someone yelling at my child? Hell no. If it were me I would have thrown those 40-minute pancakes at that bitch, farted, and then left. 

In no way is it acceptable to yell at anyone’s kid. Let’s just be clear on that one. And it’s even worse when that kid can barely form a declarative sentence. We're not talking preschoolers here. You’re not the winner when you battle an opponent who doesn’t even know they're being attacked. Sure, parents should know when to take action, but that in no way translates to "Hey, lady with the hairnet? You seem unbalanced, why don't you take a crack at it?"

Aww who can say no to that face? Me! Me! That's who and nobody else.

Aww who can say no to that face? Me! Me! That's who and nobody else.

My daughter is a fussy, rambunctious kid with a lot of personality. And her vocabulary is made up of varying vowels and slight expletives -- that I sheepishly laugh off while in the grocery store. So I can understand where most parents are coming from when they are whisked out of society because their LO decides to have a meltdown. 

But unfortunately for most people, I don't give a rat's ass. My kid could be sitting atop a float, smack dab in the middle of the Disney parade, being sung a Broadway standard by Audra McDonald, look out in the crowd and lose it because this one kid has a pink balloon and hers is orange. They're called the terrible twos for a reason. And just like society chooses not to accommodate children, the feeling is mutual.

What shocked me even more about this case, more and more people decided that it was normal to shame parents and their little kids. Excuse me? As a parent and a human being I find this completely fucked up. I'm used to people without kids having their stupid ass opinions, we as parents learned to sip our tea politely and say "thank you," but other parents have become the culprits too. By the by, I’m just going to go ahead and answer some of those burning questions you may have about this situation:

Q: Why didn’t the parents just take the brat outside? That’s what I would have done.

A: I really couldn’t get over parents stating they would have taken their fussy child outside. Why? Why do people think outside is some mystical calming place for kids? And for that matter, what exactly was supposed to happen out there anyway? Were they going to have a rational thought-provoking convo about diner etiquette? I’m gonna guess no. Parents, we really gotta stop sipping the kool-aid when it comes to our children.

Q: Why didn’t the parents have snacks for the kid?

A: I don’t know about other people, but I eat my kid's snacks more than she does. And at the bottom of my purse I’m lucky to find tobacco-covered bubblegum, let alone a bag of Cheerios. And when I go out to eat. I expect food to be there? Crazy me.

Q: Wait, they got the pancakes, why did they ignore the kid instead of feeding it?

A: Well, kids aren’t 'it’s' and call me wacky but I wouldn’t want to eat something that just came off a piping hot griddle let alone give it to my toddler.

Q: Seriously, no toys, no nothing for distraction?

A: Yeah, if you think a child screaming is annoying -- there is no way in hell you could handle the noises coming from a child’s toy.

Q: So you're saying it’s fine to let the kid scream and disrupt everybody?

A: Every heard of the cry-it-out method? Children can’t get everything they want, and sometimes that means letting them cry it out. Believe it or not, this is actually a form of discipline. And it doesn't come from a complete stranger.

What I do want to stress is that infants and toddlers can become super overwhelmed if placed in a noisy, crowded room full of people they don’t know. They lose it. But it isn't their fault; they can’t talk, so they yell. Boom, mystery solved.

I was then reminded of the Kim and Kanye incident involving North at the fashion show a few months back. Everyone got on their case about bringing her to a fashion show when she had a temper tantrum. All I could think was -- OK, she's a toddler? That's not news. If it were me I would have done the same exact thing. It’s not like Kim was gallivanting her around fashion week. They were in attendance for her father’s show -- where else would she be? It isn’t like these children are of the age to know better. They're toddlers; they can’t wipe their own asses. But an adult behaving like a lunatic? That can be avoided.

So my stance on this has become increasingly strong since then. I find it interesting that there aren't any rules set in place for this kind of thing. Instead as a parent you are put in the worst situation, constantly being met with side-eye and judgement. I'm beginning to wonder if all this anger is really just discrimination in "personal opinion" attire? Look, we can sprinkle however many shoulda, coulda, wouldas on this as much as we want, but we can not deny that every child is different and there needs to be a serious line drawn -- LIKE NOW!

We as a society are taught not to say what we are thinking all the time, so why is it alright to think and say whatever to small children and expect no backlash? Parents, we may be the ones at fault here. By allowing our guilt to overwhelm us, we forget that our little ones are people too, with serious rights, and parents to speak for them. So why don't we more often? This IS discrimination, and the more people view it that way, the better for our kids. 

In a way, I’m sort of happy this is happening. It is preparing me and hopefully other parents for what's in store for them now. What? You think just because it’s not you this time, it won’t be you next time? Feel free to keep those woulda, coulda, shoulda scenarios fresh in your mind because now it’s open season on your kids. Have fun.

Just in case you think I'm being biased because I have a kid -- let me assure you that isn't the case because I don’t hate any children, whether they are mine or not. And in the purest sense, this is child hate. People are attacking completely defenseless children and we as parents need to put a stop to it.