Monday, August 27, 2007

Uh Oh, Dare I Go Here Again?

Well, if I haven't already kicked up enough dust over my post from Saturday, "No Children Allowed," I thought I would continue the dialogue (or rant?) today. I think it is safe to say that folks with children read the comments differently than childFREE people. Some themes emerged in the comments worth talking about some more. For example, there were several mentions of children who are ill-mannered and the blame put wholly (at least that was how I read it) on the parents for this behavior. The idea is, sure, bring your kids out as long as you have disciplined them to behave like little adults.

I can guarantee you that most parents who saw these comments rolled their eyes, at a minimum, or wanted to curse out the jack ass who implied such things. Look, no one is going to deny that there are bad parents out there with ill-mannered kids. But putting that point aside, it is damn near impossible to expect a child, especially one as young as mine!, to behave well in public. They are not adults. Depending on their age, their neurological development is still underway and so they cannot be expected to sit quietly and speak in soft tones. Even the best behaved toddlers are going to have flare ups for goodness sake. Maybe they have missed a nap or maybe they don't feel well or maybe they are just having an off day. After all, I can think of lots of adults who behave badly in the same public spaces that we want to be childFREE. What about an annoying drunk who thinks its O.K. to park himself at your table because, you are single women out in a bar/restaurant. What about a spoiled rich bitch who commands everyone in the room to do exactly what she wants or she'll pitch a fit.

As someone pointed out in the comments, when you step into public space--commercial or not--you cannot expect to be free from hassles, difficult people, or god forbid, children who are staring you down while you eat.

But, what interests me most about this discussion is how incongruous these sentiments are with what I think are the politics of these people. For example, if you were to take your grandmother to a restaurant, and she has advanced dementia, and might wander off and sit at someone elses' table by accident, are you a bad granddaughter who refuses to respect dementia-grandmother-FREE people? What if your brother has Tourette syndrome and unfortunately says some unsavory things within earshot of another couple in the cafe you stopped in to buy him water? It seems odd to me that is perfectly reasonable to criticize parents for bringing their ill-mannered children out and spoiling an evening for the childFREE, but these same folks--I am willing to bet--would never voice such criticism about people willing to step into public/commercial space with their Tourette Syndrome brother.

What is that all about? Seriously.

You see, if you know, like most parents do, that you cannot be 100% sure that your child will be a perfect angel in public, then the only space that you can enter and not feel like an asshole is places set up for children, your house, or the homes of friends who have children. Your mobility is limited.

The other theme that emerged was paying taxes for the school district was a way of taking part in raising children. Yes, that is true. If you are a property owner, you pay taxes for the school district in your neighborhood. But I think we all know that our tax dollars for local public schools are useful, only if we can afford to live in a very expensive school district and pay extraordinarily high taxes. This is why, perhaps, so many idiots took out subprime loans to buy houses they couldn't afford so they could send their kid to a quality public school. If you own property in a less than high dollar locale, then your tax dollars are probably not doing much for the children in your neighborhood.

But I find it odd to hear people patting themselves on their back for paying taxes for school districts and thereby assuming they have done enough for the common good. Again, since I was really sort of bewildered by progressives, I just find it odd that folks willing to fight for social security, who want universal health care and other protectionist policies for U.S. workers, would suddenly take a sort of cynical attitude toward paying taxes toward public education. If we don't pay for public education, then we are all worse off.

What I do agree with is the view that we should be responsible about how many children we have and whether not we can provide for them. This is an important point and hence why I am passionate advocate of reproductive rights for women. I also think that it is the right thing to do for the planet.

Alright, let's hear your retorts . . .