I was trying to hold a conversation with a friend last week. I say "trying" because her 3 year-old made it impossible. Wait... actually, it's not the 3 year-old's fault, it's the mother's fault. Let me set the scene for you:
Sally (name changed to protect the annoying): Hi, it's Sally.
Me: Oh, hi. What's up? Haven't seen you for a long time!
Sally: I just called... honey, can you please sit there quietly while Mommy talks to her friend? Please? Thank you sweetheart. I just called to see if you're free this weekend to catch a movie or something.
Me: Sure. Got a movie in mind?
Sally: Well, I was.... sweetie, please sit down. No, get off the chair, that's not how we use the chair. [unbelievable screech] Please, sweetie, use your inside voice. No, don't pull on Mommy's shirt. I was thinking we could go see that new... honey, can't you see Mommy is on the phone? Yes, that's a very nice drawing. Go put it on the fridge, ok? Daddy would love to see it. No, put that down and put your drawing on the fridge for Daddy. Please? [screech] Remember, inside voice. Put it on the fridge.
Me: Maybe we should talk later?
Sally: No, I just .... Baby, get down, ok? Please get off Mommy's lap. Please stop pulling on Mommy's shirt. [screech] Inside voice, darling. Get off Mommy's lap.
Me: Um, I think I'm getting a call on the other line.
Sally: But we're in the middle of a conversation. Can't you ignore it?
Sally: As I was saying, we should go see the new Monsters vs. Aliens... honey, I said stop pulling Mommy's shirt. No, please don't pour that milk on the ... no, no, don't cry. I'm not mad at you. Don't cry, sweetie, let's look at your pretty picture.
Me: Well, I'm not much into kids' movies. How about Duplicity?
Sally: Well, that isn't really appropriate for a 3 year-old. Yes, sweetie, I see, no, don't do that... I see it.
Me: Um, she's coming with us?
Sally: Of course. With the economy the way it is, I really can't afford a sitter.
Me: How about if I pay for the sitter?
Sally: Well, I.... [insert 4 minute conversation with 3 year-old]. The thing is, she hasn't been sleeping well and I don't want her to feel like I'm not sympathetic to her feelings.
Me: Hey, sorry. I just got an email from my boss. I need to go out of town this weekend.
Sally: You need to figure out your priorities. Your friends should come first, but you are always distracted by your job.
Sadly, this is probably close to word-for-word. I got an email from her over the weekend. It was a page-long diatribe about how hard it is being a mom, and how no one understands. It went on to detail how her kid is doing in every area of her life -- potty training (aren't they trained by this point?), pre-school (i.e. playtime), choosing her own clothing, drawing, etc. It explained how great her kid is, especially compared to all the other kids in her learning academy (day-care). Sigh.
Newsflash to you moms. Your kid is not the greatest kid ever born. In fact, there's a chance your kid will grow up to be an ax murderer or AIG exec, making you look particularly stupid for thinking he/she is so awesome. I'm happy for you that you enjoy being a mom. Really. But I don't -- let me say it again, I DON'T need a report when your kid takes a crap. I don't need to know that your kid was crabby today. I don't think your kid is particularly talented or special. Every parent thinks that about their own kid, and it can't all be true.
As a kid, if my mom wanted to talk to someone, I was told to be quiet, and I knew there would be consequences if I disobeyed. I was quiet. My parents could shop in a store or eat in a restaurant with three kids without earning the collective hatred of the entire establishment. We were told to behave, and we did. If time-outs work for your kid, great. If not, find something else. Misbehaving, screeching and demanding attention are NOT acceptable.
More important news flash. YOU decided to have kids. Not me. So don't start whining to me when your kid isn't sleeping through the night and you aren't getting any sleep. I don't want to hear it when you have to clean up kiddie puke, or scrub infant diarrhea out of your couch. That's part of being a parent, so you signed up for it. Don't think you'll get sympathy out of me when you have to take off work for doctors appointments and PTA meetings, and when other annoying kids show up at your house to play. You asked for it. Keep it to yourself. You're whining.
By the way, I am exempting brand new parents from my diatribe. You are still learning how to cope, and everything is new and exciting. You get 6 months. After that, it's whining. I'm also exempting the parents who refuse to let their kid(s) take over their lives. My friend Susan and her husband drove cross country for 3 months to visit family when the kid was only a few months old. If she can do that, why can't you go see a two-hour movie without yours?
Bottom line: There's not a conspiracy of secrecy to prevent would-be parents from knowing what it will be like. There's no mystery how kids are conceived. You made the decision, you live with it. And STOP WHINING!