Dear disheveled parents,
I see you trying to console your child. I see you looking around the room taking in every judging stare from those around you as your child has a meltdown. I also see the bags under your eyes. I can even see the confusion in your heart as your torn between riding out a tantrum and letting the world judge, or stepping over your own boundaries and using disciplinary action that you may not be comfortable with just to make it stop.
I’ve seen many parents like you come through my lines at Target. You’re always the first to apologize multiple times. I didn’t know back then that I was actually looking straight into a mirror. An exhausted parent trying to get some shopping done with a bored and unhappy child. A child that might be teething, or tired. The dark circles under your eyes now look exactly like my own, and I can say that I have walked at least a half mile in your shoes.
I understand now what people mean when they say American society is intolerant towards children. Many want them to be seen and not heard. That’s not simple though. It’s not comfortable for many children to be quiet and to be still. They want to explore and vocalize. They want to push boundaries, even the boundaries that can throw us over the edge as parents. Were we not so different at one point? Was that not a simpler time for us?
Maybe there is a huge flaw in this “be seen and not heard” logic. Isn’t that what’s wrong with our country to begin with? Many of us float through our days and do what we’re told, instead of taking a stand. We try to invalidate and shut up those that do have voices right now and do take a stand. When a child takes a stand and pushes boundaries, we want them to shut up. We want to shut out the voices that obviously have the most to say. Influential people do not become known and do not have their voice heard by sitting down and shutting up. They vocalize, and sometimes loudly and it hurts the ears of some around them and yet they keep speaking. I wonder if Oprah ever had a temper tantrum…
I don’t want my kids to shut up and float through their days. I want them to push their boundaries, and I even want them to push my boundaries. I want them to challenge and be challenged. I want them to take a stand against what they view is wrong, even if it might be them arguing for another cookie before nap time. Of course, I will not give in, but I will take comfort in knowing that they can vocalize their wants. When we allow kids to be kids, they learn how to interact. They learn the limits of themselves and those around them. Why put a stop to that? Why shut it up? Because you’re uncomfortable? Welcome to life, it’s a bed of nails. You’re never going to get comfortable.
So, disheveled parents, I say let the world judge. I say you’re doing a great job. I don’t blame your kid for vocalizing because he/she’s bored. I’m pretty bored myself sometimes, and I wish I had the courage to scream some days. Maybe your kid will grow up and speak out against the wrong doings of this country, or at least I hope so.
I hope they speak up for tolerance in every single way. I hope they push every boundary known to society. I hope they change minds and hearts.
I’m sitting here looking, disheveled parents, and I am not judging. I am not wishing your kid would shut up while I eat my preservative enriched food. I am wishing that the rest America could get back on your level instead of trying to force you on our level. We weren’t so different at one point, and it’s something that I miss on some level.