The recent holiday weekend was a time for fun and festivities in our family and like a lot of people we took to the road with our three kids for an East Coast tour of family and friends. The trip offered its usual traffic headaches, picture moments, and irreplaceable memories, but I noticed another familiar feeling creeping up at moments and that was the surprising disgust I have sometimes for my friends’ and families’ kids. It rises up indiscriminately from my depths and I cannot ignore it anymore.
Of course I am ashamed to feel this way but when you think about it kids are a pretty rude and selfish lot. Babies are the worst, requiring constant attention and knowing all about how to get it with their incessant pleading cries. Breastfeeding, burping, diaper changing, and feeding take up about all the time of at least one parent of the baby and God forbid I try and hold a conversation with the mother. Babies are jealous and possessive little beings. Not to mention it is a bit distracting to have a chat while baby is fondling mommy’s nipples, as open as I am about breastfeeding in public. On top of it all it is unnerving to see my friends reduced to senseless groveling over their alien looking child with its gigantic head and bugged out eyes. It doesn’t get much better with older kids, they also need to be constantly supervised so they won’t do the dumb stuff they are apt to do like using dry erase markers to draw tattoos over their entire bodies in a chemical fumes induced haze. Often it is even scarier when they are not coming to bother you regularly as any parent knows that if you can’t hear your kids then they are probably doing something horrible they don’t want you to know about. Of course my own kids are the same as anyone else’s and there are times when I feel the urge to purge them from this Earth but somehow this feels different. Why should I get disgusted with other people’s kids? I’ve heard that there is an evolutionary reason behind the way little babies are cute and appealing to us, and that is because if they emerged from the womb looking ugly we would be much less likely to care for them in a loving way. While it may not be true that all babies are cute, and there are certainly some that are more attractive than others, no parent I’ve ever met doesn’t think their own child is the most adorable thing in the world. You can see it in their eyes. Kids are lucky that way because it may just be that if they were born hairless and pink like little rodents, I am pretty sure we would not fawn over them the way we do. Like a baby hamster, they may actually be in some danger from us parents if they weren’t so darn cute.
Am I that bad of a person to hate children? Maybe part of my ill feelings arise from the need to suppress the temptation to ask my friend or family member if they could just ignore their kids, or tell them to go stuff it, or just punish them and lock them up in their room instead of giving in to their every need. Sometimes we probably all need an outside eye to evaluate whether we are coddling our children too much and leading them into a life of obnoxious selfishness. It is definitely easier to spot this from the outside looking in. Sometimes I may be right in my assessment and would do a favor to the parent by telling them so, but most of the time I know that even my own friends would take this the wrong way, especially if I told them so in front of their child. The generally accepted rule seems to be that we should never interfere with how someone raises his or her child unless asked or if it’s an issue of safety. This is the polite thing to do. A lot of times I may be wrong in my assessment and the truth is I really don’t know all the ins and outs of their family life and that pisses me off too. I want to know and understand all about my friends’ lives, but it is impossible. This leads me to another thought.
Maybe it’s not so much that I hate kids but I just hate the fact that they are taking away the time I have with their parents. I come to visit them thinking I am about to hang out with friends and have a good time and I come to find out that my friends are too occupied with their kids to pay much attention to me. The truth is I just want to go back to the old days when we were young and kid-less and careless, and did I say, “young?” Seeing old friends and family brings us back to the old days when we were kids and teenagers and young people with the hopes and dreams and ambitions we had at the time. Revisiting people we also revisit the times we spent with them. It is these times that can never be had again. That hurts. Kids are the clearest reminder that we have moved on with our lives, that we have grown up, that we are that much closer to death. So maybe it isn’t that I hate my friends’ kids so much as I am fear my own death and they just remind me of it. That makes me feel a bit better about myself. I guess. At least it’s my own issue. It doesn’t really help to stop these feelings coming back to the surface again but at least I have another explanation for why I hate my friends’ kids other than I am a heartless ogre. And while deep down I may have some emotional rumblings anytime one of my friend’s kids takes our time away together, I’ll still be back again to visit soon, I promise.