I am a zealous reader of the website STFU, Parents, which brilliantly catalogues and comments on parenting oversharers, their bratty damn kids, and the annoying parents responsible for them. I think STFU Parents is the perfect guide to how NOT to be a parent. Last week, Blair Koenig — the brilliant and childless woman behind the website — released a book based on the website: STFU Parents: The Jaw-Dropping, Self-Indulgent, and Occasionally Rage-Inducing World of Parent Overshare, and I recommend it to any parent who wants to know how not to act, and any childless person who wants to commiserate over the obnoxiousness of parents in the Facebook generation.
The one issue I have, however, is that with the release of the book, the media — morning shows, CNN, and countless blogs, among others — are having a field day with this, running with the themes of Koenig’s book and piling on. The problem is, the good parents are getting lumped in with the bad, and in the witch hunt of the childless, all breeders are being unfairly burned upon the same stake. We don’t all take to Facebook to discuss our children’s bowel movements (or worse, post pictures of their poops) and the “jaw-dropping” self-indulgence of a few is becoming representative of the many.
How would you feel, you childless heathens, if we were to label all the non-breeders the same? Let’s find out. Here are the 10 Complaints from People With Children About the Annoying Complaints of the Childless (an answer to portions of this post, drolly written by a mother)
1. Parents Post Too Many Photos of Their Children on Their Facebook Walls — If you regularly post pictures or talk about your dogs, cats, or other pets on Facebook, just don’t even. Really, do you have any idea how little we care about how adorable your puppy looks peeking out from under the blankets? But do we constantly give you sh*t about it, or talk smack about you behind your back? No. We “Like” your post like the good goddamn friends we are because if it makes you happy, it makes us happy, even if that worthless damn pet of yours will never be able to pay for your hospice care.
If you’re not posting pictures of your children or pets, you’re probably posting pictures of your meals. Or your choice of alcoholic beverages. Or you’re posting about whatever minor illness you’ve come down with today. Or you’re complaining about the weather. Or you are sharing some trivial story about a co-worker or family member. All of these things fall under the category of banal. Obnoxiousness on Facebook is not limited to parents; it’s endemic to the entire social network.
2. Control Your Children in Restaurants — Look, if you see a kid at a restaurant, more times than not, it’s because you’ve chosen to go to a “family” restaurant, and “family” often means loud-mouthed litte brats. Parents aren’t taking their kids to nice restaurants because we don’t want to waste our money on something the kid is going to push around his plate, throw at his sister, or complain about. So, if you want to avoid us, go to a nicer damn restaurant or go after the kid’s bedtime.
But if you choose to eat comfort food with the masses anyway, you can shove your judgmental stares. I know you think if you were in our position, you’d grab that whiny little sh*t and take him or her home the second he acted out, but you wouldn’t. Trust me. The only reason you would bother to take the kids to a restaurant in the first place was so that you could avoid cooking and cleaning up for one goddamn night of your life, and you’re sure as hell not going to pick up and leave before your kids have finished the meal you just spent $50 on so you can go back home and do exactly what you set out to avoid, i.e., cook and clean-up. Cut us a f***king break and try to remember how you behaved last time you showed up at IHOP at 2 in the morning after 7 Bud lights and asked the waitress if the “no shirt” rule applied to her.
If I hear one more non-breeder complain about a parents failure to “control their kid” based on that one shitty little brat they saw throwing a tantrum in the middle of Wal-Mart, I’m going to go apoplectic. For every tantrum-throwing little sh*t, there are 300 well-adjusted children who don’t have to be removed from a situation, and yet it is this complaint that is most often cited.
2a. The Sheer Mess that Some Kids Make When Out to Eat is Astounding — Yeah. That’s why we go out, dumbass. We just paid $7 plus (a very generous) tip for a crappy grilled cheese sandwich so we wouldn’t have to deal with that mess.
3. My Biggest Complaint Are the Parents Who Play the “Shy” Card on Behalf of their Children — If we say that our child is “shy,” when our child is being quiet or ignoring you, we’re just trying to be nice. In reality, it’s because you are a scary looking person who children immediately distrust and we don’t want to hurt your feelings by telling you that. Please, don’t make this about our kid. Instead, ask yourself why that kid doesn’t seem to be acting “shy” around other grown-ups, then take a good hard look in the mirror, and remove those giant f***king rubber things from your earlobes because you look like a creepy hipster.
4. I Hate the “You Don’t Understand” Parents — But, here’s the thing: You don’t understand. You think that because you had a couple of playdates with your nephews or nieces or the neighbors kid that you understand. You’re wrong. You’re the same person who thinks that having a dog is the same as having a kid. Shut up. When you’ve slept in an awkward position on a crappy armchair all night because it’s the only way your sick kid will sleep, or when you’ve changed a sh*tty diaper not once not twice but THOUSANDS OF TIMES and you’ve read the same book four hundred times, sat through countless doctor visits, and fed and cleaned up after a child three times a day for a few years, then you’ve earned the right for parents not to say, “You don’t understand.” Until then, indulge us, OK? if we’re enduring all of this, the least you can do is humor us for one goddamn second and stop making it all about you.
5. No One Wants to Watch a Video of Your Child that is Longer than 12 seconds Long — True, but we don’t want to look at your vacation photos, either. Or anything you post to Instagram. Or listen to that terrible story about how a restaurant served you the wrong meal. Or hear about what a great deal you got on that pair of jeans, or your thoughts on the situation in the Middle East, or your passion for a sports team, or any of one million things that annoy us about you but that we quietly put up with because we’re your f***king friend and that’s what f***king friends do, you arrogant little sh*t.
6. I Get Irritated When Parents Blabber on about Being So Busy — Oh, honey. We’re not that busy. When you manage to fold in taking care of a child into your full time job, we parents become excellent time managers. I manage three kids, writing for two sites, consume 30-40 hours of media each week, and still find time to hang out with friends. If we are “too busy” to hang out, it just means that we think that changing diapers and reading Where the Wild Things Are is more fun than hanging out with you.
7. I Most Hate That They Fall Into What We Call the “Baby Hole.” Why Can’t Anyone Get a Damn Babysitter Anymore? — Do you know how much a babysitter costs? Plus, you have to add that on to the expense of going out. Plus, do you know how hard it is to find a decent babysitter? Why, so we can go “clubbing” with you? Look: We already did all that, and we found our spouses, and we got married, and we had kids SO WE WOULDN’T HAVE TO DO THAT ANYMORE. But if you’d like to babysit for us so we can spend the night out together, that would be great.
But seriously, I get it. The first year is tough on parents, adjusting to new schedules, missing sleep, getting to know our children. But after a year, most of us can return to the civilized world, drink, hang out, play Rock Band at your place until 3 a.m. It’s just that most of the time, we have to do it separately. We take turns. One parent takes care of the kids, the other gets sh*tfaced all night and takes care of the kids with a hangover the next day while the parent who volunteered to stay home gets to sleep in. It’s a decent, if paradoxical system, and it allows us to hang out with both other parents and the childless, or at least the ones we want to hang out with. If we’re not hanging out with you, there’s probably a much better reason than the fact that you’re not a fellow parent.
8. I Don’t Like When Spouses Start to Call Each Other “Mommy” and “Daddy.” That’s Just Creepy. Fair point. 100 percent agree. But this is also true of almost all pet names that spouses and partners have for each other. Pet names are creepy, and it’s not just limited to parents.
9. What Really Annoys Me Is When Parents Yell at their Kids But Never Get Out of Their Chair and Deal with the Kid — Well, how are we supposed to “deal with it”? We yelled at the kid, didn’t we? We can’t spank them because you childless hippie liberals have taken that away from us. Oh, “time out.” Yeah, like that works. Should we take away something? Because she’s three, does she really have anything of value? Oh, we should send them to their rooms without dinner? Great idea, if you want child protective services called on you. Should take away their playdate? But why? Then we’re just punishing ourselves. That playdate was two hours of freedom, or at least two hours of adult conversation with the other parent.
Our disciplinary avenues have been taken away, and now all we’re left with is positive reinforcement (ha!) and shame, and we don’t have to get out of our seats to shame our children.
10. My Biggest Pet Peeve Is ‘You Can’t Imagine How Tired, Frustrated, Pain, Etc. Unless You’ve Had a Child — You know what, imaginary person who is annoyed with all of these things you have to deal with by virtue of being friends with the people who choose, for their own happiness, to continue repopulating the Earth: Either stop hanging out with parents, or stop bitching. You know what’s more annoying than complaining parents? People who complain about complaining parents (and people who complain about people that complain about complaining parents are the worst). You chose your path, we chose ours. We’re all annoying or obnoxious in some respects. We all have complaints or gripes or quibbles. It’s called THE HUMAN CONDITION and it is not exclusive to parents, so get the f**k over yourselves.