Well pardon me for breeding…

Sometimes I wish I’d called one of my sons Johnny. This isn’t because I particularly like the name; it’s just so that the next time some child-phobic misanthrope saw fit to comment on his less-than-adult behaviour, I could say, in an exaggeratedly mumsy voice, “just you leave my little Johnny alone!”. I bet that’d really piss them off (for good measure, the other son would be called Timmy Timpson, after Spoilt Bastard in Viz. Obviously it’s too late now. Why do I never think of these things at the time?).

Two children I imagine are NOT called Johnny and Timmy are a pair of 14-week-old twins whose parents took them on flight and provided “apology” gifts to all the other passengers, to excuse in advance the shocking behaviour of those who’ve had fewer than six months on Earth in which to learn the rules of polite society. I read about this in an excellent blog post from Scribbles from the Middle. Mummy and Daddy – “AKA our portable milk machine and our diaper changer” – are clearly feeling uneasy about the intrusion of their offspring into other people’s quiet lives (not that I recall adults on plane flights as ever having been particularly quiet. In fact, do you know what I’d find really cool? If all those people who are scared of flying and get totally pissed in the departure lounge were to scrawl barely legible “apology in advance” notes on the back of their boarding passes. Each ending with “ah fuckin’ luv u”, obviously).

I’m aware that in having children, neither I nor anyone else is doing humankind a massive favour. There are some people who gain from this – CBeebies presenters, for instance – and while the anti-children brigade can moan about over-population, we parents can counter this with the made-up argument that we did it all to combat “an ageing population”. But still, for something that’s so shockingly inconvenient, I’d say that overall having children is remarkably non-altruistic. But then so, by and large, is being alive. And yes, while you didn’t choose to be born, I did choose to have children. But anyhow, I’m not going into that. My kids are here now, so what are you going to do about it?

Moan, that’s what, at least if you’re someone who dislikes the presence of little people in planes, shops and restaurants, and at social events (I wonder if a baby’s ever been banned from his or her own christening? Seriously, it wouldn’t surprise me). Having had a century of ridiculing the Victorians for apparently believing that “children should be seen and not heard”, it would appear that it’s now radical to assert this all over again. The child-free now feel they’ve been “seen and not heard” for far too long. For today’s children – little Johnnies and Jacintas – it’s time to shut the hell up.

Well, seeing as my children are being rather quiet at the moment (I’ve stuffed their gobs with cake – hope you approve), there are several things I would like to make clear:

  1. No one starts life as a parent. We parents all know how wonderful and altruistic being a non-parent is, because that used to be us, too. Back when we were working for Amnesty and giving all our extra cash to Oxfam and being totally and utterly silent on all those plane flights to war zones where we were serving as human shields. That once was us. But yes, we’ve changed. We know it. We’re sorry.
  2. Yes, our children can be really fucking annoying. How can you possibly think we haven’t noticed this? Honestly, you don’t know the half of it (not meant in a smug way – more that this is even more of a shambles than it looks). So can all outsiders please work on the assumption that yes, we’re aware of what fuckwits our offspring are being? No need to point it out, thanks.
  3. If we started banning people who were annoying and/or had a poor grasp of the unwritten rules of social interaction from all public events, where would it end? I mean, look at your own friends and family – would you really be seen with them ever again? At least not without copy of Debrett’s and some hardcore tranquilisers, in case all else fails.

So anyhow, those are my thoughts on the matter. But I now need to go since Little Johnny is being a total sod and whining about Timmy Timpson “spoiling his game”. Oh well. All part of life’s rich tapestry <runs off to assemble “apology bags” for the neighbours>


10 thoughts on “Well pardon me for breeding…

  1. Great post! We all started as children too. Funnily enough having children makes it much easier to tune out other people’s children, so to anyone annoyed by my darlings my advice is have children of your own then when you encounter mine you’ll just be grateful they’re not yours to deal with.

    1. Funnily enough, after I wrote this post I took my kids to McDonald’s and one of them was such a total sod that for the first time ever we DID decide to remove him from the restaurant! Or rather my partner did. I stayed there with the other one and had chips in peace and quiet…

  2. Totally! One thing makes my blood boil – perfectly grown up adults, who in theory ought to know how to behave talking on mobiles or just generally talking loudly in the quiet carriage on the train! I mean wtf! I booked a seat specifically so I don’t have to listen to your annoying babble… Grr!
    But yeah traveling with kids is tough. We took the train to the seaside this year I couldn’t imagine the 4 hr car journey with our 4mo boy who used to just scream bloody murder in the car. My husband had a speech prepared for arses who dared to say anything. No one did. And an older couple said how well behaved our little lad was 🙂 I of course thought our son was being a right pain the one time he got upset and still occasionally don’t want to go to grown up dos with him in case he’s a right sod. It’s just easier to not have to comfort him every time some stranger makes him cry (he’s in that stage now) or the dog barks or someone sneezes loudly or…
    A very cool thing trains have in Finland is a children’s carriage (also awesome is that parents/carers travel for free when with kids, cool yeah?). There’s a slide, books, play area etc and kids are entertained. Win win! I’ve been on one, it’s lovely 🙂
    I’d never make up “sorry my kids are kids packs of sweets” but sometimes “sorry I’m such a lazy arse parent” ones are in order you know for those cases when they couldn’t be arsed to bring a colouring book, load the laptop with a couple of movies or bring something nice to keep the kids happy cos it’s unhealthy or will make them hyper…

  3. So you’re aware that your children are ruining other people’s dinners, movies, etc, but all you offer is “Yeah, I know they’re annoying?”

    Have you thought about, I dunno, REMOVING THEM?

    This is why business owners have to ban you people. You have no sense of courtesy towards the larger public, and it’s costing them customers. Why should they lose customers over you?

    Businesses didn’t do this in the past because they didn’t have to. Parents used to take responsibility for their children. When I was a kid, if I started acting like an idiot in public, I got taken out to the car and sat there until I composed myself. It didn’t happen more than a couple of times. Grow a pair, and stop letting your brat go apeshit and ruin my lunch.

    Yes, this might mean sometimes YOUR good times get interrupted when you remove your child mid-meltdown, but guess what?


    You made that decision. You understood it was going to place certain limitations on your life. Stop inflicting it on the rest of us. If I pay good money for something, you don’t have a right to ruin it for me, and thank goodness businesses are starting to recognize that.

    1. This is a question of tolerance and politeness, regardless of age. Children do not have a monopoly on not knowing the boundaries.
      I’ve never taken my children to the cinema and did take one of them out of the last show – a pantomime, ffs! – for being too noisy. The truth is, they’re not “ruining” anything for you. I get the impression that your lack of tolerance is. This is a question of what’s reasonable in broader social interactions and whether the world should be a child-free space, not one of parental “rights”. And whether or not children are here due to someone’s choice doesn’t change the fact that they’re still people, too.

      1. You’re absolutely right. And yet, no one is arguing we should simply let adults disrupt other people. Only children should be allowed to do that, apparently.

        You don’t think screaming over a movie or knocking on the back of my head while I try to eat is ruining it? Just because you’re used to it doesn’t mean I have to put up with it.

        If kids behave in public, I will fail to notice them. I tolerate them perfectly well.

        Like I said, parents used to control THEIR OWN children. And that means that businesses didn’t have to make rules about them, because the parents took care of it. These days, parents are rude and inconsiderate and will let there kids do just about anything. So, to avoid losing customers, they have to make rules.

        Like I said above, yes, they’re still people, but we don’t let adults scream and jab people in public settings regardless of their degree of mental compitence, so why should we let children? Why do your children have a special right to make my day hell?

        1. I’m not sure at what point in this discussion my hypothetically terrible children started making your day hell. As far as my real children are concerned, they’re in bed, honest. And as for that movie – it totally wasn’t them! I’m not going to start apologising in advance for things they haven’t done and probably never will (unlike that couple on the plane!).
          As for making allowances based on mental competence in adults – well, perhaps you don’t, but I think we should (I have a disabled sibling. He’s not pretty to look at in restaurants. Sorry if he puts you off your pasta, but I don’t choose to leave him at home).

  4. If your child is being obnoxious and ruining someone’s dinner, I think they have a right to complain.

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