This little incident at Trader Joe’s is just one example of an attitude I have seen and heard from others regarding my taking my children out and about. I am fortunate to live in the South, where people are generally pretty friendly and casual when interacting with strangers. But even here, with my comparatively calm and well-behaved children, I occasionally get dirty looks and verbal jabs like this one. My crime? Toting around multiple small children… in public.
At some level, I do get it. Most people don’t have four children under the age of eight, as I now do. Most people also have their children in school of some sort by the age of four or five, while we homeschool. Further, a growing number of mothers are going to work, rather than staying at home with their little ones as I do. So I know I’m the odd one out. I can understand why people sometimes stare. What I don’t understand is why our culture seems to view it as such a negative thing to have children integrated into our everyday lives.
Perhaps this may be seen as an overreaction to a relatively tame comment from a single grumpy lady. And if it were based on my experience alone, I would probably agree. But I write because I know I am not the only one. I may be the oddball in our culture, but I have quite a few friends who are in a similar position. I’ve heard numerous stories of strangers giving my friends nasty looks or comments because of a minor incident of naughtiness, or (as in my own example) even the simple fact that they have children in public, being what they are: children. Parents are quite often driven to embarrassment by their children’s behavior, not so much because the children did anything abnormal, but because they did it in public.