Your kid is annoying.
Recently I was on an airplane populated by four screaming toddlers within five rows of me. They were annoying. All of them. Your screaming kid is not an exception.
I turned to Chris, who was in the seat behind me, and said, “It’s like everyone in Cleveland decided a flight smack dab in the middle of bedtime.” Which was true. The flight was from 6:40 pm-8:20 pm. Prime time for little kids to lose their damn minds.
The woman in the row across the aisle said, “Actually, this was the only flight today.”
Actually, there were a dozen flights from Cleveland to the beach, maybe not on that specific airline, but that wasn’t the point. The point was we’d been listening to children scream for over an hour, piercing through the most technologically advanced earbuds, and it was exhausting.
I’ve come across three blogs recently addressed to people who were “judging” parents of children who were having meltdowns in public. In none of those articles did the parents actually talk to the general public, they just assumed the people around them were judging them on their parenting, judging their kids, and assuming they could do better. Allow me to present the counterargument.
Screaming kids are simply annoying.
Here’s something else I know, and everybody else knows, about kids. They’re monsters. Sometimes they’re cute, sometimes they’re sweet, sometimes they’re unintentionally hilarious, but at their core, children are feral animals in human clothes that they’re constantly trying to shed. If you’ve ever wondered why kids want to be naked all the time, it’s because they’re not quite human, not yet.
When your kid is throwing a temper tantrum, I don’t assume you’re a bad parent or that I could do better. I mean, I don’t automatically assume you’re a good parent, but I’ve seen a kid lose his mind because the corner of a tortilla chip was too pointy, so I understand a child cannot be talked down from the brink using rationality. Sometimes straight up bribery doesn’t work if you don’t have access to the specific weird thing they want. I’m on your side, parents of that kid I would definitely throw out the window if the windows opened.
I also don’t assume your kid is bad, or at least not worse than any other. Kids scream sometimes. They scream because they wanted to wear their pink pants, they scream because none of the seventeen stuffed animals in the car is the one they want, they scream because they wanted bacon for breakfast and there wasn’t any in the house, they scream because the air feels “creepy.” Babies scream and don’t even bother to tell you what’s wrong.
Look, I get this is part of the social contract. Even if I never have a kid, I was a child once, and other people had to endure my mood swings. I get that learning how to behave in public is something that can only be accomplished by going out in public. Parents, when you feel those eyes on you, and you automatically assume you’re being judged, coming specifically from me, know I’m not judging you.
I just think your kid is annoying. And let’s not act like we can pretend it’s not happening. You can’t continue a normal conversation when a three-year-old seven feet from you is screaming bloody murder because their fries are curly and their world is coming apart at the seams. Your night kind of stops. Again, I’m not judging. I’m not blaming, you or the kid. As long as you’re doing what parents are expected to do to quell the unquellable, I get it. Kids are evil, and much like a volcano, evil erupts. They’re learning to navigate disappointment. Their brains aren’t yet capable of understanding they’re not the center of the universe. It’s a rough lesson.
Given the choice, you probably wouldn’t want to listen to a child scream. When you’re captive, like on an airplane, and your kid has been screaming for 45 minutes straight, I totally understand that if you could do anything to stop it, you would. I also believe there was a time before you had a child when you would’ve thought “Oh, man, I wish that kid would shut the fuck up. This is unbearable.” I’ll bet there has been a time or two since you gave birth where you wished your own kid or someone else’s kid would miraculously be struck mute. Maybe sometimes you go to your bedroom, bury your head in your pillow, and scream until your lungs collapse because you can’t remember the last time you had five minutes of silence. I dunno.
So to the parents of your screaming toddler: speaking as a member of the public, I sincerely promise I’m not judging you. I hope one day we can all agree that screaming kids are obnoxious and leave it at that.