This is Fuck You Week, Jezebel's first annual week of desperate emotional cleansing and unhinged psychic purging.
I fucking hate other people's kids. Before I became a mother, and some shitty child would be having a total meltdown in a restaurant, screaming at the top of his lungs and writhing around on the floor, trying to escape from his table as though sitting properly in a chair was tantamount to Lingchi torture, I used to be like, "Well, having kids must be so hard. I'm sure those parents are doing the best they can." But now that I have a child of my own, I'm like, "I hear enough of that shit at home! Hire a fucking sitter like the rest of the people in this restaurant did. God!"
Seriously, though, other people's kids are the worst. I actually thought that once I had a child, I'd start to like all children. But the opposite has been true—I like other children a lot less now. Experience as a parent has given me some real perspective on the matter. Asshole children didn't get that way despite the best efforts of doting parents. They're assholes because they're born of assholes who never correct asshole behavior because they don't even recognize how asshole-y it is.
Besides, now I have this cute, sweet, polite, funny, gorgeous, award-winning baby. And I'll probably eventually learn that she's a genius, you know, once she starts school and the teachers notice how remarkably advanced she is and send her off for some testing. I don't know yet if we'll allow her to skip grades. That's like a we'll-cross-that-bridge-when-we-get-to-it kind of thing, but obviously it is swirling around in the back of our minds.
Anyway, compared to my exceptional child, these other kids seem like crude savages. But that's too kind. That makes them sound almost human. They're more like creatures. You know the type: the kind to ruin the fireworks display for everyone else by screaming and crying and carrying on like the fucking world is ending. First of all, the fireworks are miles away. Secondly, you know who gets scared during fireworks? Dogs. What are you? An animal?
Summertime can be especially difficult because it's just full of children. Going to the beach is an exercise in patience. Kids are very inconsiderate with their boogie board trajectories, plowing down other swimmers like they're a set of bowling pins. Are you seriously trying to tell me that there isn't enough room in the God damned ocean for all of us that you can't avoid knocking into me?
And when the ice cream man shows up and rings his bell on the dune, all the kids sprint to be the first in line, pushing past others. And they don't have any money! Meanwhile, their parents are just taking their sweet-ass time showing up with their wallets, meandering through beach chairs, stopping to say hello to their neighbors ("Oh, how was your Fourth? Did your family come down? Were you guys here on Memorial Day? Your kids go back to school before Labor Day this year? Wow, that's early."), while their children are clogging up the line, waiting for the cash to pay for the treats that are melting all over the ground and causing a huge mess. One of them will probably touch you and get you all sticky.
Later, they will tease the seagulls with the sticks from whatever Good Humor thing they were eating, tossing them in the air, attracting a whole flock of pests who will end up walking too close to my blanket and trying to go after my real food. Also, throwing garbage is littering and that's gross.
But the absolute worst-behaved children at the beach are the ones who throw sand. They might as well just be showering everyone with broken glass. It's pretty much the same thing. It's dangerous and it's rude and it's unbelievable that their parents aren't telling them not to do it!
Speaking of rude, my biggest pet peeve is when other people's children are completely lacking in manners. If I hand a child something, and that child just walks away without saying "thank you," I narrow my eyes and mentally hiss at them. Like, what the fuck? Fucking say "thank you," you uncouth piss-ant.
One time, at a child's birthday party I attended, two little boys (neither of whom were the birthday boy) were fighting over playing with one of the presents. The first little boy screamed to the second little boy, "I want to share!" He thought that "share" meant "it's my turn to play with it now." And it's easy to see why, because right after he said that, instead of correcting him, the mother of the first little boy said to the second little boy, "It's his turn to play with it now." I was horrified.
If you actually like other people's children, I'd have to ask you if you've been to the zoo recently. Seeing the way that some people's kids treat animals is very telling (hello, we're in like, future serial killer territory here) and can be disheartening. Sometimes, it takes everything in me not to slap a child's hand away from banging on the glass partition of the primate habitat. There's just something really cruel about harassing captive animals.
I've been to several petting zoos in the past year. Some of them are on the up and up and enforce strict rules about what, if anything, you can feed the animals, and have attendants to make sure that people and their shitty kids are behaving appropriately. Other places are sadder, with a handful of obese rabbits, defeated pigs, and dangerously aggressive goats who have been regularly fed concession stand snacks, like funnel cake, by children who want to ensure that they hog all the animals' time in their specific corner of the pen.
One time at the Queens County Farm, my daughter wanted to feed some sanctioned Romaine lettuce to a goat, but this 11-year-old fuck face kept making kissy sounds while waving a greasy paper plate with a half-eaten strudel on it over the goat's head so that my one-year-old wouldn't be able to have the experience for which I'd paid $4. He was awful. I hope he dies. Oh, whatever, shut up. He's going to die anyway, one day. We all are. Get over it.
Older kids are exponentially worse than toddlers. Babies at least have an excuse for acting like babies. You know? Being at the park really exposes the dark underbelly of the true nature of horrible children. Like the 8-year-olds who go on baby swings instead of the big kid swings. I make no bones about yelling at them. "You're too big. You're going to break it and ruin it for everybody!"
And I don't care if their nanny hears me. In fact, if their nanny cared about anything, she would be correcting the little prick instead of talking to the other nannies about how much she hates his mother. I can't blame her. I hate his mother, too. She must be an asshole to raise a kid like that.
What really sets me off at the park, though, is when another person's child tries to lay a hand on my child. One time my daughter walked over to an abandoned mini motorbike. As part of learning and exploring the world around her, she reached out to touch it as her eyes were wide with wonder. And then some 6-year-old ran out of nowhere and tried to punch her in the face. The only reason why he didn't was because his mother—who must be all too familiar with his insane temper—lunged forward to stop him at the last minute. Still, he scared my baby, threw off her balance, and knocked her over. I wanted to punt him clear across the jungle gym. Also, it's like, look, motherfucker, if you don't want people touching your things, don't leave them unattended in New York City of all places. If that were a real motorbike it'd be gone. Dick.
Wintertime isn't much better, though, as far as other people's children go. First of all, they're all sick. They're like little petri dishes, incubating and perfecting viruses that will infect you and keep you sick and miserable for 11 days in a row.
At a recent kiddie concert in my neighborhood there was a child in attendance who was way too ill to be there. It's just so discourteous to bring a very sick kid to an event like that. Unfortunately, she was seated on the floor right by my family. And she kept coughing out. You know, coughing openly, all over the place (including into my drink!). "Coughing out" was actually a major plot point in Basketball Wives season 4. Kesha kept coughing out to the point that Tami almost beat her up. To quote Tami, "I get offended when people cough and don't cover their mouth. That's a big deal for me. I don't tolerate that from anybody."
Her mother never told her to cover her mouth. That kid was old enough to learn if instructed properly. Needless to say, my child got very sick.
Public transportation with other people's children will test you. You know what I hate? When kids sit next to me on the subway and try to see the game I'm playing on my iPad and get too close and breath through their mouths and get their mouth breath on me. Instead of asking me, they'll ask their mother, "Mommy, what is she playing?"
Bitch, how the fuck would your mom know? She's not me! What? You feel comfortable enough to pull yourself up using the sleeve of my coat, but you can't address me with a question about my life? And by the way, I'm playing The Settlers of Catan, Cities and Knights expansion, and I highly doubt you'd ever understand the strategical complexities involved.
But beyond everything else that's fucking annoying about other people's kids—their whining, their questions, their stickiness, their rudeness, their inconsideration—what's truly the worst is the way their shit smells. And a strong poop stench is bound to assault you when you're around kids a lot. But you get accustomed to the stink of your own child's excrement. It's gross, but it's familiar. Better the diaper you know than the diaper you don't.
Actually, dirty diapers serve as a decent allegory for how I feel about other people's kids. I can handle my own kid's crap. We can make jokes about how much her poop smells and she does cute stuff like holding her nose to warn me that she's dropping a real one. We both point out when she stinks and then I do something about it before she offends other people around us. I do this because I love her. But also because I have to. I am not legally and morally obligated to deal with your kids' shit. And I will not stand for it.