I don't blame parents for taking their children out of the house every now and then. I suppose it's technically impossible to stay cooped up in a house with a child until it's 20; plus, the kids have to be socialized at some point. But taking your child out in public and inflicting it on the public are two entirely different things. I'm not a complete hard-hearted Grinch, by the way. When I see young parents in a restaurant with a crying baby, and they're overcome with embarrassment and try to remove the child from the premises, I feel sympathy in my heart.
But when I see parents sitting in a restaurant with a brat bawling away at the top of its lungs while they eat their dinners and the rest of us strain to hear the voice of the person sitting across the table from us, well, that's where my sympathy lapses. I also hate parents who allow their toddlers to run around the restaurant, where they always wind up at my table, begging for scraps or whatever it is they're doing as they stare at you in that unnerving way toddlers have.
Oh, and what makes me really crazy is that if you can manage to catch the parent's eye while their child is harassing you and sometimes even grabbing fries off your very plate, the parent will just shrug and look at you as if to say, "Well, kids will be kids." Or worse, they act as though they're expecting a compliment on how cute their howling, food-stealing, ketchup-covered blessed angel is. How adorable.
Just for the record, if the restaurant in question is Cici's Pizza or Chuck E. Cheese, I won't complain a bit. If you want to allow your child to cry and run rampant, these are the locations for you. But when it's ferns and brass, for goodness sake, remember that adults eat there, too!
Back in May when I went to see Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, which was, just as a reminder, the Movie Event of the Year, I was startled to see babies all over the theater. Honestly, you would have thought that Star Wars was Look Who's Talking X or something that babies would like (there's no accounting for baby taste). And, OK, maybe if you have an extra special baby that just loves to take three-hour naps in dark theaters filled with the sounds of droid battles, maybe I can see you taking this baby to Star Wars. None of the babies at my viewing were those kinds of babies. Plus, the parents were absolutely enraging because whenever the babies cried, the parents just sat there and rocked them, completely oblivious to the fact that the rest of us were trying to watch a movie for which we had just paid seven bucks and for which we had been waiting for years.
And if you have the gall to say anything to a parent about his or her rude behavior, he'll certainly regard you as an emotionless bastard, worthy of rank in Darth Vader's storm trooper army.
So when my parents bring up me having kids, these are the things I think of. Because the thing is, I'm fairly happy not being a complete idiot who makes the people around me miserable - which is what parents seem to have a knack for. If their children aren't actually crying or doing something annoying, the parents themselves are being annoying by expounding on all the amazing things their babies do -- activities such as sitting up, rolling over, eating Cheerios, not pooping green and successfully removing their socks from their feet. They're highly impressed with every smile, nonsense word and fart their precious child provides.
As thrilling as these achievements sound to me, as a non-parent, this kind of chatter leaves me bored after approximately, oh, one second. And though all of my parents and parents-in-law think grandchildren would be wonderful, I'm somewhat concerned about my ability to find spoon-chunking particularly clever.
Also, there's something else holding me up. If you ask me what my favorite movie is, I'll likely say something like Star Wars or maybe The Matrix. If you ask any given parent what his or her favorite movie is, he or she is likely to name a Disney movie like Pocahontas or The Love Bug.
My parents tell me this isn't a very good reason not to have children.
"Don't worry," they say. "These things will come."
That, however, is what I'm afraid of. I don't want to like Disney movies and I don't want to be annoying.
But, mom, guess what? Good news: I'm pregnant.
See you at Cici's.