Other People's Children

I'm tired of people's children. Sick of them, in fact. It seems that no matter where I go, somebody's kid is screaming his or her head off and pissing me off. It's one thing if I'm in a supermarket or a mall or a nursery -- places one might expect to hear screaming children -- but who in the hell told parents it was okay to bring infants to the midnight show of "Kill Bill"? Who told them it wasn't completely rude to bring an infant to a restaurant where a dinner for two costs $100? Look, if I'm eating a hamburger at McDonald's, I don't really care if your baby is screaming louder than a landing jumbo jet. I don't. The ambience at McDonald's doesn't mean squat to me, but if I'm paying $100 to eat at one of the better restaurants in town, I'd better not have to tolerate a little brat screaming at the top of its lungs. This is what babysitters are for. Have the decency to hire a fucking sitter. If you're eating at the restaurant in the first place, you must have the money for the sitter, you asshole.

Obviously, movie theaters are even less tolerable places for children. Look, it's one thing if I'm seeing "Pooh's Heffalump Movie" in the middle of the day. I'm not a complete idiot. I expect kids to be in the theater. What I don't expect is to go to a midnight showing of "Casualties of War" and listen to some kid crying. Worse, I've had to tolerate parents who, on more than one occasion, considered the theater their little terror's personal playground. I'm trying to watch the movie and here's this three-year-old running up and down the aisles, a kid that's being studiously ignored by its parents. These are the kinds of kids who get kidnapped. Look, just because some moron is too stupid to watch his children after disgorging them onto the planet doesn't mean I should have to put up with them. Furthermore, that's the punishment for having children anyway: You get to stay the fuck home. You have to wait until the little freak can be quiet for at least two hours before you can be seen in public. That is the goddamn penalty. Sorry, but that was the choice you made.

Sadly, I'm at the age where most of my friends are now starting to have kids. I'm sure there are some rewards to having them, it's just that I don't really want those rewards to be the topic of every conversation for the rest of our relationship. Isn't there something else we can talk about? Pick up a newspaper: The Earth didn't stop turning when you had a baby. There are other things going on in the world besides gifted little Amy's potty training progress and whether or not the Baby Einstein series actually works. I cannot possibly look like I care. Fuck Baby Einstein.

What's worse is that if you don't have kids and you go to a party or something where kids are present, you are segregated off in the corner of the room where it's like having your own little leper colony of childless freaks. Pray to God that you aren't one of the few who chose not to squeeze out the pups too or you'll end up in the corner with the one other single person in the group discussing sports or politics and being told every five seconds to keep it down or not to put your beer on the table where somebody, like a fucking four-year-old, might grab it and spill it all over the carpet, as if the carpet wasn't one big spread of kid slobber and shit stains already.

Then there are the friends who don't have children, but are in a relationship where kids are being contemplated. In every situation, the woman's biological clock is ticking like some kind of impending nuclear detonation while the guy is babbling like a condemned man composing his last appeal. "I'm not sure I want kids." "What should I do?" "What should I tell her?" "Where should I go?" "Should I just say no?" What the poor sap doesn't realize is that his feeble protestations will prove no match for the inexorable march of an armed biological clock. Oh he's having kids; he just doesn't know it yet.

And God forbid if you are in a committed relationship and both partners have made the decision not to have children. Suddenly, it's like you just stuck your finger right in the eye of respectable society. Every question is some variation on this theme: "You're not having children. What is wrong with you?" Once the kid-friendlies have established that you don't have cancer or your partner's uterus isn't missing, they begin looking at you like you're from another universe for consciously deciding that you'd like do something else with your life than saddle an overcrowded planet with human being number six-billion-and-one.

Rest assured, life is not empty without children. They're not necessary for happiness. Far, far too many people have children because they're lonely or unsatisfied or want to tie their partner down or simply don't have any better ideas. Having a child isn't like getting a dog from the Humane Society, but many people treat it exactly that way: "I need company. My life is empty. I'm lonely. I know, I'll have a kid and everything will be perfect." Then what happens? After a few years, they realize their lives are still empty and worthless and they just end up inflicting their neuroses on their offspring and warping them for the rest of their lives.

So, if you haven't had children, here's a hearty thanks from me.


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