I ran into a grocery store with my three young kids. My youngest, a toddler whose mood changed with every passing box of cereal, was particularly volatile and I remember thinking that I would have to be quick about this.
He took advantage of me not buckling him into the cart (huge mistake) by hopping in and out of it at one second intervals. So I tried to wrestle him into the belt, which he resisted with body contortions, kicks, screams and various other unpleasantries. In the end, I hoisted him over my shoulder, secured my left arm around the back of his legs, and used my right arm to navigate the cart and my two other kids through the aisles.
At this point, I should have left my bread and eggs (completely overrated at times like these) and exited the store with a teeny shred of dignity. But I was young(er) and wonderfully optimistic and had not yet experienced — well, what I was about to experience.
So I stayed while both my son’s behavior and my optimism deteriorated at the speed of light. Feeling utterly defeated, I was finally ready to swipe my credit card — after which I planned on retreating to my car for a good cry.
But then, as with the most memorable learning experiences, things took a turn for the worse.
My son chose the very second I was swiping my card to try something brand new. Using a weapon I had left unsecured and readily available — his teeth — he clamped down as hard as he could on the back of my shoulder. A vise grip, if you will, that he seemed intent on holding until he reached his next birthday.
Cussing like a sailor (a bit out of character for me), I barely made it through the transaction.
I would never choose to repeat that experience. But here’s what made it bearable.
Although I am positive that there were people in the store who judged me or my son on various levels (before I had kids, I would have judged both me and my son), no one was openly critical. Moms gave me empathetic looks and wide berths in the aisles. Customers in my line were patient and helpful with my other two kids. The cashier was kind despite being somewhat alarmed at being in such close proximity to my son (for which I can hardly blame her).
An employee even opened the door and offered me assistance to the car — unprecedented for that store. This was very likely on account of wanting to get rid of us as quickly as possible, but the gesture was appreciated nonetheless.
Even though my kids are older now and I am no longer in danger of being bitten by one of them (knock on wood), I value the general sentiment of public support for what I’m doing as a mom. For the most part, the attitude I experience when I’m out and about with my children is that kids are pretty awesome and totally worth it — even at their most annoying.
So I am conflicted about the “no-kids-allowed” or “brat ban” policies that are growing in popularity (http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/the-no-kids-allowed-movement-is-spreading-2516110.html). Not surprisingly, it all began with adults-only resorts. But now, a wave of restaurants, movie theatres and even airlines have established policies that either ban kids altogether or stipulate times when kids are allowed and when they’re not.
This got my wheels turning. Should our kids (and, by definition, their parents) be banned from local movie theatres or grocery stores? In Texas, one cinema chain has even reversed the model and completely banned kids under six, except on specified “baby days.”
I understand that it is difficult for businesses to ignore revenue from the increasing number of childless adults, the group fueling this movement. But I hate to see society becoming less kid-friendly. What does this mean for the future?
Does this mean that my kids might be raising my grandkids in a society where their families are banned from as many (or more) places than they are welcomed? Does this put parents in danger of becoming second-class citizens?
There are certainly times when I’m on a date with my husband and would rather not be seated next to a screaming (or, heaven forbid, biting) child. And someday I hope to be able to confirm reports that vacationing at adults-only resorts can be quite lovely.
But I’ll more than tolerate — I’ll even be kind and helpful to the parents of — tantrum-throwing kids if the alternative is a society that doesn’t welcome them. The way I see it, all of us adults — even the ones who choose not to have children of their own — were once kids ourselves. And for the most part, we were totally awesome and completely worth it — even at our most annoying.
In your opinion, where (if anywhere) should businesses draw the line on these types of policies? What do you think about the growing number of “no-kids-allowed” bans? Let us know what you think in the comment section or on our Motherhood Matters Facebook page.
Susie Boyce’s column, “Momsensical,” is featured in several North Dallas area newspapers and posts Thursdays on KSL.com. Visit her website at www.seriousmomsense.com.