Children should be seen and not heard, I guess.

I got in a fiiiiiiiiiiiight at the Farmer’s Market again yesterday (the last one was nearly a year ago, when some lady snapped at me to cover up while nursing). We had brought the kids over to have brunch. Robin was unhappy with A) food not coming fast enough, B) being in the stroller, C) the way we kept feeding the other baby instead of him, WTF, and D) everything else. He yelled periodically. Not constantly, and it’s not as if we weren’t doing our best to address it. But two asshole women at a nearby table kept glaring at me, and when I smiled apologetically at one she sneered, “I’m not smiling.” And they kept glaring. And glaring. Finally I went over there and said, “Hey, so, I’m getting a lot of nasty looks from over here, and it’s really bothering me.” Ms. I’m-Not-Smiling told me, unsmiling, that my children were disrupting her meal. “I’ve been watching you,” she said, “and every time he yells you pop food in his mouth. You’re rewarding his bad behavior.”

“Let me get this straight: he’s yelling because he’s hungry, so you want me to . . . not feed him?”

Well, they had come here to have a peaceful lunch. I pointed out that this was the Farmer’s Market; it was filled with kids and loud people. But all of the other kids near us were behaving perfectly, they answered.

“All of the other kids near us are older and capable of speech.”

Ms. I’m-Not-Smiling told me that she was a high school teacher, so she knew how kids like mine were going to turn out. I asked her if she really thought her badly behaved students were bad because their parents had fed them when they yelled for food when they were one year old.

There was more. Too much more. Husband came over and I informed him that we had been doing this whole parenting thing wrong all along and THANK GOD SOMEONE WAS HERE TO SET US STRAIGHT.

Oh, the whole thing was a freaking trainwreck. At the same time that their rudeness made me angry, it also reinforced my anxiety about bringing the kids out in public. It’s true: sometimes they’re loud (especially, I’ve noticed, when they are in loud environments). I’m already completely embarrassed by it even before the kind contributions of Ms. I’m-Not-Smiling. But what am I supposed to do, keep them locked away until they’re six?

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38 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Annika said,

    The Farmer’s Market doesn’t have assigned seating. If it bothered her so very much, why the fucking hell didn’t she move?

  2. 2

    Kara said,

    Some people are just jerks. As if you could tell how a kid will turn out! I often wonder just how bad someone’s life has been for them to be so hateful. But unless you ended up dumping a drink on her (I probably would’ve!), you handled it as well as possible. It is totally unreasonable to expect children to stay out of public places, and it is equally unreasonable to expect them to be quiet or even calm. I know it’s hard, but don’t let assholes like them shake you. You’re doing fine!

  3. 3

    Laurie Ann said,

    Having sat right next to your children at meal time on a few occasions, I can attest that their periodic yelps for food are not as loud and unbearable as you think. Don’t feel like you can’t bring them out in public just because they act like–OMG–children.

    Also, peaceful? Farmer’s Market? Is she nuts? I’m sure she’s just one of those people who are bitter no matter what the situation.

  4. 4

    Kate said,

    I’m speechless at the rudeness of strangers. Sure, I’ve seen some kids that get fussy when out for dinner, but you can’t stay inside until they’re 6. You’ll all go crazy. And there’s a difference between periodic demands for food and an uninterrupted tirade. Those women had NO PLACE to tell you how to raise your kids, and I’m shocked they thought the did. I’m getting pissed off at them just reading this.

  5. 5

    Gwen said,

    I second Annika and Laurie Ann — you were at the Farmer’s Market, which is a loud place full of kids and families. I also second Kara that I would’ve probably thrown a drink in her face, so I’m very impressed that you didn’t.

  6. 6

    Annika said,

    P.S. Can you imagine what little monsters they’d grow up to be if you never took them out in public? Just imagine, five years from now, their first trip to town! They would have NO IDEA what to expect or how to act. What a horrifying thought.

  7. 7

    gardener said,

    Let’s hope she doesn’t have kids of her own!

  8. 8

    Nora said,

    That’s fucking outrageous. They’re rude.

  9. 9

    MonkeyGurrl said,

    ARE YOU FREAKIN KIDDING ME?! Ditto what everybody else already said. Most of all (and I know this is much easier said than done), please try to NOT CARE what the Mrs. I’m-not-Smiling’s of the world have to say/do. Really. The Farmers Market?! I like to tell people like that that if I want their opinion, I’ll friggin beat it out of them. You are way too nice. Has anyone ever MET a quiet while hungry 1 y/o? Did she ever actually have children of her own, or did she just ruin everyone else’s?! OOOOH! I’m so mad, I’d like to smack her upside the head. You totally do NOT deserve that kind of treatment. Do not think for one moment that you, Husband or Robin and Wren do!!

  10. 10

    As far as I’m concerned, the only mistake you made was to be polite to them in the first place. If they’re banning bad behavior from farmers’ market, well, rude adults are WAY more badly behaved than yelping children. Just saying.

  11. 11

    Marie said,

    Some people need to get a hobby or something (like a clue)

  12. 12

    Sara R. said,

    It’s not like you’re taking the kids to Le Cirque! If the Farmer’s Market isn’t an appropriate place to take young children, I don’t know what is. Do not feel bad about taking your children out in public! Your kids are going to grow up to be grounded, well-adjusted people who know their parents love them.

    Screw the old biddy. Her students probably hate her.

  13. 13

    Level Best said,

    Wowee, how nice that someone who apparently so dislikes normal childlike behavior is a teacher! But my opinion is that this is a child-hating culture in general. I think it is commendable that you spoke with her about the nonverbal hate waves her party wafted towards you and your little ones.

  14. 14

    KS said,

    I am truly shocked that she didn’t back down after the first few exchanges! That’s some balls right there!

    I have been to the Farmer’s Market once, and although there were tons of kids there and it was certainly loud and boisterous and all that, I did not find it to be particularly child-friendly. As I was walking around with my two year old (at the time) I noticed that no one smiled at her, or really looked at us twice, and no one made any concessions for her (or me at 7 months pregnant) like walking around her or watching out for us. People just looked/walked right through us. Now, I wasn’t offended by this, no one was rude or mean at all, but it was very noticeable compared to other public places with a similar feel.

    Any time someone gives you a hard time about your kids it is hard to shake. But you know you were doing the right thing and your kids are not going to turn into monsters because they are sometimes loud in public at age one. Don’t let the assholes get you down!!!

  15. 15

    Jen said,

    God, what awful, awful people. They should have moved if they were bothered. They’re babies. They make noise. The fact that this woman deals with children of any age is frightening.

    Can you imagine how freaked out your children would become if you didn’t socialize them at this age? They’d be twitchy nervous wrecks. You’re making your babies adaptable. Clearly her parents didn’t do the same for her.

  16. 16

    julie said,

    Wow! That sounds pretty rough. Kudos to you for initially trying to stem the negative energy coming your way. It’s also great that you didn’t get physical. I wasn’t there; I didn’t witness or participate, so I’ll keep my mouth shut on that except to say thanks for sharing–good to know this stuff really happens.

    Your kids will be verbal long before the age of six =). Taking them out in public does expose them to lots of new/different stimulus. Getting out of the house is a good thing. Continue to be sensitive to how your kids respond to certain situations. Being overwhelmed is no fun. However, there may come a time between now and say, age 3, when taking the twins out (particularly to a place like a restaurant) generates more trauma than it’s worth (either for you or them). At that point, yes, avoid taking them out as frequently. It’s a temporary phase that usually only lasts a few months to a year. Once they’re past the can’t sit still for 5 seconds phase, go right back to dining out with them. It’ll be fun again, for the whole family, (and not a huge problem for other diners) and the twins won’t be scarred from being kept away from a situation they would be almost guaranteed to “fail” in. And no, I’m not an advocate of children should be seen but not heard. I’ve just been there, done that in restaurants with a toddler who refused to sit still. It’s actually pretty dangerous to run around a crowded restaurant with servers coming and going with heavy trays (and when you’re on vacation, you can’t really avoid all restaurants all the time).

  17. 17

    Andree said,

    Such charming ladies…(sarcasm)

  18. 18

    Celeste said,

    That teacher sounds like a burnout to me.

    She should have gotten up and moved if she wasn’t happy; it’s not her place to pick on you.

    My advice? Don’t engage with these people. It’s like mud wrestling a pig.

  19. 19

    anon said,

    while i don’t think things like this should make you feel badly, i actually think it’s fine to feel anxious about being in public with two babies, and i agree with julie in that there are probably going to be many times before they are of a certain age (youger than six – don’t worry) where spending extended times in crowded public places will be more trouble than its worth. it’s not just about the babybirds – you also have to recognize what does and doesn’t work for YOU, and if certain situations make you uncomfortable and anxious, it’s fine to avoid them if you can. my parents didn’t take us out a ton as really young kids because, like you, they recognized that it can be rough trying to deal with multiple really young kids in public. but we all actually turned out fine – in fact, once we got older and did start going out on family outings, we were always *particularly* well-behaved because, you know, it was kind of special and fun to get out.

    i assume that on many, many more occasions than this, people have fussed over how cute and awesome babies are, or expressed admiration at your ability to handle two at once. focus on those positive experiences, and just tune out things like this that rattle you. these women are idiots, and you already knew that before you even engaged them. plus, i know for a fact that you’ve dealt with worse assholes than this. you’ll be ok 🙂

  20. 20

    ecclescake said,

    They were wrong. You were right. They were also assholes. You were also brave!

    And: I feel sorry for her students. I kind of hope her antipathy is only towards babies so I don’t have to imagine scores of high schoolers out there with that much more of their self-worth rubbed away.

  21. 21

    Chris said,

    I’m glad this isn’t going to keep you from getting the kids out and getting them used to all kinds of social situations. Your new Farmer’s Market friends are suffering their own punishment for being assholes, which is to be assholes. It’s a beautifully karmic.

    You confronted the bullies appropriately and courageously.

    Sometimes when I read parents saying that children should be kept out of sight to avoid any awkward moments I wonder if it’s actually the parents’ neuroses that are being coddled. You don’t seem to have that problem.

  22. 22

    Writer2 said,

    14 months old they are (well, almost, almost), so judging them as if they are j.d.’s seems literally premature. My limited experience with parenting tells me that confronting adults is just as fruitless as demanding silence of expressive kids — which tells me those who are hyper-critical of kids being kids are themselves pretty badly damaged and beyond repair.

    Having seen kids JUST LIKE THAT I know you handled this as well as possible — and don’t let the curmudgeons keep you down or at home. That’s what the Farmers Market is for, anyway.

  23. 23

    akeeyu said,

    To be fair, I’m sure these silly bints would prefer that children not be seen OR heard.

    I always fall back on my standard: At least you only had to deal with them for 20 minutes. They have to BE them forever, which is probably worse.

  24. 24

    Anon X said,

    Hmm…I think you did exactly what they wanted by going over and validating their glaring looks. Those kind of people are miserable to the core. They won’t change, and you can never win with them. Personally, I’d just ignore them in the future. If it really bothers you, then you can move. They like to see misery in the world, so they will stay put.

  25. 25

    Nan said,

    I (Annika’s Mom) am coming to LA next week and am soooo looking forward to SnB at the Farmer’s Market, mainly so that I can meet your hungry yelling children!! Bring ’em on!!

  26. 26

    geckogrrl said,

    So sorry to hear about your story. You totally did right giving it to those people and I say #$%A them. We had so many problems when Alex was little because she was so fussy. I would get all sorts of people saying mean things to us. (Once at the aquarium with kiddo in a carrier, hat on head and all wrapped and snuggled in up some woman rudely said to me “Oh she’s crying because it’s too sunny for her.” I totally told her off…) 15 month olds have tantrums, that’s just what they do.

    That woman was most likely just bitter because she is a burnt out HS teacher. If anything the kids whose parents let them scream or plop them down in front of the TV instead of taking them out to explore the world wind up being the trouble makers!

  27. 27

    liz said,

    Keep bringing your kids out. If people want to live in a child-free, sanitized, silent world, they can buy themselves a desert island or go live in an active adult community.

  28. 28

    Argh said,

    Do us all a favor.. A) Keep your spawn at home till it can behave and not SCREAM
    B) Play mother earth boob feeder somewhere else. We don’t want to see it

    Give it a rest already, had I been there I would have called the cops on you for indecent exposure.

    Its freaks like you that give breast feeding a bad name.

    • 29

      FununuF said,

      A) So, I guess your parents kept you at home until you were 18. You obviously never adjusted. Your tone basically is SCREAMING.

      B) You don’t want to see it, then turn your head.

      …and…

      Call the cops for breastfeeding, calling it “indecent exposure?”

      Go ahead and call. It’s legal.

      Ninny.

  29. 30

    Gonga said,

    Please keep the screaming spawn at home. They are NOT welcome in many places now thanks to people like you who let them scream and yell and run all over.

    I would have asked you to LEAVE my restaurant.

    I am 34 and LOVE the child-free, sanitized, silent world. Keep the GERMS and SCREAMS at home.

    • 31

      uccellina said,

      Hm . . . two names . . . two comments . . . one IP address . . . I spy a troll!

      • 32

        kathy a. said,

        gah, like you need trolls! i don’t know what is wrong with people.

        hope you and the babes and everyone are doing well!

    • 33

      FununuF said,

      “You’re 34 and LOVE the child-free, sanitized, silent world?” Then I have an idea for you:

      Just stay in your own freakin’ child-free, sanitized, silent *home*, playing your Wii and occasionally flaming folks’ blogs, while the rest of the world enjoys it for what it really is: imperfect, broken, noisy, and beautiful, just begging to be explored by noisy little kids.

  30. 34

    Nora said,

    Rudeness is just uncalled for.

  31. 35

    Alex said,

    Anyone who expects a BABY to be SILENT may as well ask a stag to take off its prongs.
    You have the right to bring your children in public.
    You have the right to feed your child even if the way you do it isn’t as pretty as the mona lisa. Anyone who says otherwise is a troll, and, unlike your children, these shouldn’t be fed. Your kids should get food.

  32. 36

    Danielle said,

    Just found your lovely blog. This post reminds me of why I hated most of my high school teachers! I think it’s the high strung folks looking for the sanitized “public spaces” that need to stay at home.

    Great blog, & looking forward to the day when I have babies who will make lots of noise & annoy people in public 🙂

  33. 37

    I kind of agree with Gonga‘s posts a LTTLE, and I’m a parent.

    When I’m out & about, I do not want to hear someone else’s noisy brat squawling.

    And, frankly, I have taken in the past taken the position with my own kids when they were younger–if you scream because I’m trying to feed you but you’re being impatient that I’m not fast enough, then yes I will stop feeding you. I will not tolerate your fussing at me trying to control me with your bratty behavior. I’m doing the best that I can, and I don’t appreciate your bad attitude.

    Yes, I did my own child that way, around age 8-12 months or so.

    What it was was that I’d be in the kitchen cooking or preparing something for them, prior to this point they had been fine, but upon seeing me prepare the food they’d scream because it would take me a few minutes to finish. My response was to plug my ears with the MP3 player so I couldn’t hear them, on some occasions I’d send them back to the crib until I was done. I was delivering the message loud & clear–do not fuss.

    So I agree with what the ladies were saying, actually.

    However: I have learned somewhat to not be preachy, snotty, or judgmental about it, either, as long as I can see the person is trying to get things under control. I realize that, sometimes, only so much can be helped with regards to keeping things quiet, and if I see the effort, then I grant some grace to the frazzled parent and leave them alone. I may even offer to help, and I do so with a nice, pleasant attitude.

    So I do somewhat scold the ladies for how they treated you.

    All I am saying (in terms of agreeing with that one person) is this: when I’m in public, especially something like a nice restaurant or a waiting room (I realize you were at the farmer’s market, though), I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect some peace & quiet and for parents to make efforts towards that. Those who said “babies make noise, get over it”–I have to disagree. I shouldn’t have to hear that if it can be helped.

  34. 38

    N/a said,

    Wow, I’d hate to run into you and your nightmare kids in public.
    Those ladies had every right to get ticked, sorry.


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