Today, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: It gets old defending children on the internet. I know what you’re thinking, “But you don’t defend children on the internet! You talk trash about them!” Not exactly. You see, STFU, Parents is about mocking and scrutinizing parents, not their children, and I often hear myself saying things like, “I have lots of parents friends, and I myself want to have kids someday. I LOVE BABIES, OKAY!” when fielding criticisms of the blog. It’s not that I feel the need to ascribe to a certain way of life; it’s just that I get frustrated when people ask me questions like, “Why do you hate babies so much?” or declare, “I’m not going to stop posting cute pictures of my kid a few times a week just because you think it’s annoying!” I never said that I hate babies (I don’t), and the purpose of “STFU, Parents” is not to say, “Your friends don’t want to see pictures of your child, so don’t post them.” I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to reassure people that posting occasional (meaning fewer than 10 a day) photos of their kids online is fine, and that most people, including me, enjoy seeing them.
But you know what? It’s hard to toe that line and repeatedly exclaim my love of children, because the truth is, until I have children of my own, they ARE kind of annoying. It’s not that I get irritated by any kids in particular; I don’t privately despise my niece or nephews, or hate all children who are within a certain age range. And I do enjoy seeing my friends’ cute photos on Facebook. It’s just the way kids are that gets under my skin, and I’m never really in a position to complain about them myself, lest I be (even more) known as a child-hating wench who runs an anti-kid website. Typically, I’m able to ignore a baby’s screams on long flights, or make my way past parents pushing massive double-wide strollers along my narrow Brooklyn street without incident. I pay no mind to the dozens of shrieking, ear-piercing middle schoolers who walk past my office window every day when school lets out. I even try to conceal my intense anger at the little girl who lives next door and insists on loudly playing in our shared backyard at 6:30a.m. when I’m normally sleeping. (As a childless freelancer, I tend to work late and sleep past 7a.m. I know, I know — how spoiled and selfish am I?!)
But it’s not easy being this breezy. In fact, sometimes I have to admit it out loud: Kids are charming, adorable, life-enriching brats. Over the years, one of the few things that’s helped me feel better in this realm is realizing that many parents share my sentiment. I light up inside when I get a new Mom’s Gold Star submission that suggests that some parents can’t stand kids, either — whether it’s their own kids, their friends’ kids, or every tiny tot they see around town. Sure, there are a lot of childfree STFU, Parents readers who identify with that feeling, as well, but somehow it’s only when the parents express it that I really feel better about my own grievances. I like knowing that I can discreetly roll my eyes at other people’s children and anticipate they might feel the same way.
With that in mind, I put together some of my favorite examples of parents letting down the happy facade. These aren’t just parents who joke around using old clichés like “Kids for sale! Get ’em at a bargain!” or “Having a toddler is like living in a frat house!” No, these are parents who have allowed themselves to be brutally honest about parenting with no guilt, shame, or remorse. They have very little patience for children, sometimes on a regular basis, and that is because kids are annoying. FACT.
Let’s check out some examples.
1. Laughing Kids
Whenever I’m feeling momentarily enraged by a child who doesn’t belong to me, I start hearing the voices of obnoxious parents in my head, spreading lies like, “Once you have your own, you’ll understand,” or, “If you ever become a mommy, you’ll finally realize that children are the greatest gift in the world.” Thankfully, Deirdre is one of the few truth-telling parents who doesn’t subscribe to that line of bullshit rationale. She thought innocent giggling could be incredibly irritating before she had kids, and now that she has a kid of her own, she’s certain that it can be irritating. Somehow this makes me feel better.
2. Sick Kids (Side note: When are kids NOT sick?)
I’m not usually a fan of the “My kid is a little asshole” type of complaint, because we all know that the type of parent who posts that on Facebook is the same type of parent who turns around three minutes later and says the exact opposite. But in the case of this submission, I appreciate the way Sarah’s status update informs Hillary’s comment. Hillary is genuinely grateful to be allowed to say, or even think, “My kid is being an asshole today.” Sometimes when you’re a mom living in a society that says every minute of parenthood should be a joy and a blessing, you just need permission to admit that it’s not.
3. Strategy And Manipulation
I love a parent who’s willing to admit:
1. His kid’s blind defiance is annoying, and
2. He’s willing to manipulate that kid in order to change the course of said defiance.
In fact, I feel like this is a pretty solid definition of what I consider a good parent to be. It’s like the childrearing version of that Lil Jon lyric: “Don’t start no shit, there won’t be no shit.” If only kids could understand this simple concept.
4. Crying Kids
Nothing is more aggravating than watching parents “negotiate” with their crying kids. Of course, it’s something all parents will do at some point (“If you stop throwing a tantrum, we can stop for ice cream later.”), but that doesn’t make it any easier to witness. Thankfully, parents like Lisa remind me that not all parents give in to their child’s cries, and that some parents will ignore their weeping children altogether. That’s not to say I don’t try to calm a child who’s hurt or upset, but every now and then it’s nice to hear a parent say, “Suck it up, kid. You can’t
right now. Deal with it.”
5. Survival Tactics
It’s not just childfree people who don’t want to hear the high-pitched wails of an infant. But rather than post the typical woe is mom rant about how the baby’s late night cries are probably going to ruin a pleasant weekend in the woods, these parents took the funny route. I also appreciate Petra’s informed tip. Some parents are cool with letting the baby cry it out — and getting some sleep of their own. You can’t soothe a screaming baby if you can’t hear its cries! #ZING #WINNING
6. Empty Nest Envy
I could listen to these parents discuss kicking their kids out of the house in 10 years for easily another 100 comments. It’s so refreshing to hear parents talk about wanting time to themselves (or just not wanting their kids around). So frequently these days, parents obsess about how important it is that their kids be with them at all times, in all settings. Attachment parents nurse their babies until they can eat steak and sleep with their kids until they can do long division in their heads, and helicopter parents insist on texting their school-aged children dozens of times a day just to make sure they’re still breathing. Every now and then, it’s nice need to be reminded that not all parents feel this way. Mike, Max, Karen, Kristin, Tiffany, and Claudia: Can I be your friend?