Saturday, January 24, 2009

I Don't Really Like Other People's Kids

Ok, maybe that's too strong a way to put it, though I think it is kind of mild. What I mean is, I don't seem to find little kids all adorable the way one is expected to. I find them mostly annoying. And hard to figure out or relate to.

I must admit that the relating and the annoying has lessened since I've gotten my own kids. I can now empathize with the parents as they try to deal with the little three-year-old terrorists in public. But I still don't really want to have anything to do with other people's kids most of the time. Maybe it is because I just tend not to find other peoples' kids cute, like mine are. I wonder sometimes if my kids look so adorable to me just because they are my kids or if they just happened to be adorable, so I like them for that. I wonder if they were ugly if I would feel the overwhelming bond of love I feel with them. I wonder if just everyone sees their own kids as the prettiest. It is muddied for me by all of the compliments my children get, both my daughter and my son, for how pretty or cute they are - from strangers who just come up out of nowhere to people who see them all the time.

I saw an example of this yesterday, when I was waiting in a never-moving line to see the doctor. Ahead of me was a woman with a small child, probably two-years old. The child just looked disturbing to me. Maybe it was because her face reminded me of an adult face yet it was on a child's body and it brought back images of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (with Donald Sutherland) - where the old bum's face ends up on the dog. The girl was not really listening to her mom and was running around everywhere. So even though I was in no way finding the child adorable, I sympathized with her mother and I also still smiled because it reminded my of my own little bi-pedal terrorist that I had waiting for me at home. Still, I wasn't all that eager to interact with the child and so I was relieved that she never ran in my direction.

Of course, other peoples' kids can grow on me. I spent some time watching a friend's kids before my daughter was born (but she was on her way...) and they were actually adorable and I liked them. So maybe I just like the adorable ones. Or maybe I just like those kids who I get to know, just like any other person. Maybe that isn't so bad - after all, I'm not exactly a social butterfly. Maybe it is just that I treat kids like adults - I'm mostly indifferent to them until I get to know them.

Another thing this makes me ponder is that really loving and taking care of your own children says nothing about how you are with other people or even whether or not you are an asshole. The classic media example of this is the Mob family, where you see Vito or whomever showing such tenderness with his kids before he goes out and slits the throat of someone else's kid for some minor slight. Obviously, love for one's own offspring says nothing about caring for others. Maybe that's hormonal. Or maybe that's just the whole "familiarity" thing. Or both.

One thing I do feel now is the collective angst that all parents feel when you, for instance, read stories like this. I imagine it is my own children and it, frankly, freaks me out. I can't help it. At the same time, it is terribly annoying that these stories get shown so much, because when you really think about it, they had to scour the entire PLANET to find this story about one day care to share it. It wasn't even in this country. Why the hell is this even being mentioned in the United States? Oh wait, that collective angst. Must sell papers. Of course, other children are being slaughtered in countries where they don't have nice white, suburban day care centers. But we don't hear about that. I tend to think that is less racism than simply the lessened impact of the unfamiliar and the general rule that a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic. I certainly can't relate to the kind of destroyed society violence that is happening, say, in Darfur. That it totally alien to me. But day care centers, even those in another country, I can relate to that. I drop my kids off at one every single weekday. And I'm the target audience. That's one of the first rules of selling a story - getting you to identify with someone in it.

And now I must do another parent thing - leave my son with a babysitter so the rest of us can go to get Japanese food (my daughter's favorite, and really we all like to eat lunch out at this one restaurant). Yum.


armagh444 said...

I don't seem to find little kids all adorable the way one is expected to. I find them mostly annoying. And hard to figure out or relate to.

I am starting to think this is normal. It's certainly normal for me. Generally, I hate kids. Adore my own to distraction, and occasionally find someone else's kid intriguing or worthy of notice . . . but children in general? Well, the allure escapes me. Always has.

I can now empathize with the parents as they try to deal with the little three-year-old terrorists in public.

You can always spot the other parents in the grocery store. They're the ones who don't shoot knives at you with their eyes while your little angel pitches a fit.

DBB said...

When you really think about it, it isn't expected that you normally get along with every person you meet. And kids are people too. Moreover, kids are proto-people with often bad manners, lots of snots, and so they aren't particularly likeable on their own terms.

Being cute, at least to family, must be a survival mechanism to offset some of that.

And of course, there are the genetic celebrities who are cute to everyone.

But ah yes, at the very least, having kids makes you at least tolerate other kids' bad behavior. Within limits.

C Woods said...

Sometimes it isn't the kids I find annoying ---it is the parents.

Recently I was in a grocery store. Two mothers were stopped in the middle of the aisle talking while right in front of them, their kids had climbed onto shelves holding paper towels and crawling all over them and knocking them into the aisle and then throwing them at each other. I stopped and looked at the kids, then at the parents. One woman looked at me and said, "What are you looking at? What our kids do is none of your business." I said, "I'm not bothered by their behavior. I'm appalled that you are allowing it to continue." Then I turned away because I was tempted to bitch-slap her. It's in their nature for kids to do whatever they can get away with. I can overlook a 6, 10, or 12-year-old 's behavior. I can't overlook a parent for not setting the kid straight.

DBB said...

Yes, I do admit, that still really bugs me, too. I mean, I can sympathize when a parent at least tries to stop the three-year-old terrorist from doing something and the kid ignores him or her - what can you do then? But when they just let the kid destroy without even trying to stop him or her, and on top of that, they get nasty with you about it... That annoys me. People do not have to put up with that. Me not being annoyed by your kid's annoying behavior is a privilege, not a right.