I've taught them to be respectful and kind, but they also need to be allowed to be kids.
We just moved into a new neighborhood and I met an elderly woman a couple blocks down the street. She looked at me in shock (almost horror) when I told her that we have four kids and she kept saying, “Four? four??" Then she looked at me square in the eyes.
“I guess that will be okay," she said, “as long as they are quiet." She was dead serious.
I laughed like it was a joke (because that's what I do when I feel awkward).
I took the kids and we continued down the street feeling kid-shamed.
I think I understand her perspective. This is her street and she's probably lived on it upwards of 50 years. It would be hard to deal with change and disruption of her normal. It probably feels like the invasion of the Brady Bunch.
However, I often feel like we bother people by just being us. Not necessarily by anything we do, but just the idea of what we “might do." When we'd wait our turn for our passports and tickets to be checked at the airport, we'd hear heavy sighs behind us like are you kidding me. I felt like turning around and saying, “FYI sir, we paid for six tickets, you paid for one, so we have every right to be here."
Kids are a normal part of society; it's always been that way. You are not actually entitled to a child-free life. Sorry, not sorry.
You don't have to have them yourself, and you can go to as many adult-only things as possible, but you don't get to expect that we are going to keep kids out of your way in the world we all share: parks, sidewalks, grocery stores, restaurants (yes, I take my kids to restaurants and I won't apologize), the beach, airplanes.
We teach our kids to respect people and to not act like wild animals (except the 4-year-old, she's kind of a loose cannon).
We teach them to give up their seats on a train for an elderly person and to look someone in the eyes when they shake their hand.
We teach them not to wrestle or yell in inappropriate places and to say please and thank you.
They aren't perfect at it by any means, but they're pretty good. Outside of that, I will not apologize for having kids, and I won't apologize for my kids being, well, kids.
I won't apologize for them laughing loudly while they ride bikes in the cul-de-sac. I tell them not to yell, but I don't feel bad when an occasional “whoop" slips their lips. They are kids. Kids are a normal part of life.
When we asked for a rental application for a certain house, the property manager replied with a simple one-line e-mail, “Sorry this house is too small for your family." It was a three bedroom, which is the size of home we've always lived in.
No questions, no asking if we were sure it would work for us. It was a clear “blow off" from someone who didn't want to be inconvenienced by children. (If you're ever in that situation, know your rights).
These “annoying kids" are the future.
A baby in an airplane who is screaming is not “annoying you" and making your flight terrible, they are likely in a lot of pain. You can put on your headphones and crank the music. I guarantee this scenario is a lot worse for the baby and for the parents than it is for you.
I'm not trying to start an argument here (although I might anyway), and I'm not even trying to villainize anyone for being annoyed at my kids—I get annoyed at them, too, we should have a glass of wine and commiserate together. But actually, buck up buttercup.
Kids are a part of life…period.
In my opinion, they bring a lot of sunshine and joy to the world. I know I like mine.
We visited a church recently where all the generations were represented. We were welcomed like family, the kids even received several handshakes and someone went to find them crayons.
I loved it.
We need each other.
We need the grandmas and the grandpas and we need the babies and the obnoxious 4-year-olds and everyone in between...like it or not.