I think it was Samantha from Sex and the City who said that children are little assholes. At the time, there was a screaming baby in the restaurant where the fab four gab about men, sex, and love.
I agree with this sentiment to some extent. Children are practicing what comes naturally to them, screaming for what they want, which is interpreted as asshole behavior. My mother once told me something I will never forget. 'Ninety-nine percent of the time, you are great. Really fun. The other one percent, you are an asshole.' I think I was eleven when she said this.
I could buffer my mum's statement by saying that she was an immigrant, that she didn't understand the complete connotations of the word asshole, but then, I'd be lying. She knew exactly what it meant; not the anal aperture one associates with going number two, but that whiny, rude, inconsiderate, and sometimes, plain evil person that roams the society, looking to create havoc on the lives of others.
So, yes, I understand Samantha. Crying, whining children are annoying. Some of them probably exhibit real asshole personas, especially when they don't get their way. However, most children, like people, deserve a little compassion. It's difficult to communicate when you're an adult at times. Imagine being two, barely able to speak, and getting frustrated with the idiots around you who try to pacify you by doing the exact wrong thing; changing a diaper instead of feeding, feeding instead of hugging, hugging instead of.....and the list goes on. It's hard to ask for things even when you have the words, much more so when you can't even form a complete sentence.
Most children I encounter are pretty rad individuals. Without fully understanding rejection, many of them launch into conversations with complete strangers, ready to show them their new toys, favorite words, and weird body tricks. They fascinate me and not just because I'm a parent, but because they truly don't have many of the anxieties that plague adults.
Yes, some of them are truly annoying, but looking at how their parents react, I can't blame them. During an outing to the local supermarket when I was seven, I remember seeing a mother hit her child on the head for grabbing a pack of gum. Kids grab! That's what they do. It's an instinct. This mother just lost it. 'You fucking little piece of shit. I told you not to do that.' Okay, mama! We all get it. The kid disobeyed you, but what about speech instead of a smack? We're not animals. We can communicate without gruff physical gestures.
This blog entry was inspired by an article I read in the times. It's about a man who travels with his infant and his tips on how to cope with the ordeal. I blogged about it before, but he did have some helpful suggestions. The comments to his article were unbelievable. Adults stating that children should never travel. In his words, 'Society expects you to be considerate and refrain from bringing your child to certain places at certain times...If you can't live with those inconveniences, please don't have babies.' Okay, asshole, we get the point. You don't want babies near you at dinner at a nice restaurant, but what about Denny's or the local diner? We can't cloister ourselves in our cramped-ass apartments to satisfy your need for peace. YOU should be the one to stay home. Another jerk wrote, 'If being a parent is the culmination of your lifelong desires, just do the rest of us a favor and stay home to enjoy it.' First off, parenthood happens. It's not always planned and it doesn't necessary have to be the culmination of anything other than unprotected sex. I'm not saying parenthood isn't great, but it doesn't have to completely define you. People can be both an artist and animal advocate, so why are parents forced to just be parents? His logic errs. In his universe, only people that fit his bill should be allowed to partake in society. If that isn't selfish, I don't know what is.
The point of this entire diatribe is that children are assholes (often) because they don't know any better. Adults don't have any excuse. Living in a society means cooperating with others, whether or not they are five or fifty. There are more perils than a child in a public space. Perhaps looking outside one's own comfort zone would ensure that adults have a better perspective about what really matters. Why are people bullying little children and their parents when there are much bigger fish to fry? It doesn't make sense. But I guess that is the number one rule of asshole behavior; nothing that comes out of their mouths ever makes much sense.