Dear Parents: You Aren’t That Special

baby-at-wedding Image via Shutterstock

Sitting at the pond, observing my four year old’s attempts at mastering the art of flotation, I watched a scene play out that I have seen time and time again: During swim class, there is no swimming in the area marked out for the lesson (which includes the dock), and every single day there seem to be parents who feel their children should be exempt from this rule.

Today, it was a mother who, upon being told by a lifeguard that they needed to be outside the buoys, responded “Well, we need to leave town in 30 minutes, and they want to play on the dock- they aren’t bothering anyone.” Except, of course, that they were, as they were about eight years old and running through the swim class full of toddlers. Plus, you know, rules.

Unfortunately, it seems as though more and more people feel entitled to break rules, be they unspoken or otherwise, when it comes to their children. The thing is, popping out a child doesn’t make them, or you, any more special than anyone else, and acting as though the sun shines out of that squishy little tushie? That just makes you a jerk. Here are some other places I’ve encountered parents who seem to think the world revolves around them and their children:

1. The Movies. Don’t bring your beautiful three month old miracle to a 10PM showing of a horror flick. Your child WILL wake up and disturb others around you. No, you are NOT entitled to go see the film just because you want to. Hire a babysitter. Watching a movie in a theater is not a right, and disturbing others is just obnoxious. This also goes for bringing young children into late night shows where they will either be terrified or disruptive- just don’t.

2. Bars. I am shocked I even have to write this, but having witnessed quite a few people (especially in NYC) feel completely comfortable bringing their young ones into what should clearly be adult only establishments, and it makes me wonder what these parents are thinking? Why would you: 1. Want your child in that environment, and 2. Feel as though it is appropriate to bring them to a venue where other adults congregate to imbibe spirits and likely be away from children? You aren’t that special. Leave your precious snowflakes at home. (Obviously some bars are totally family friendly, especially in the early evening. I’m not talking about those).

3. Inappropriate restaurants. There are family restaurants. Lots of them. Go to those.

4. When there is an age/height requirement at a venue or attraction. There is a reason for it, and arguing (often loudly and at someone who likely had no hand in the decision making) about why your darling child who is a clear six inches too short to ride that ride should be allowed on it, just makes you an entitled brat. It’s called safety — no one is trying to personally inconvenience you by enforcing the rules. If you’re the person willing to argue and harangue people over the rules, you’re probably also the type of person who would sue if something then happened to little Johnny after you forced the issue.

5. Weddings or other events that are specified at “adult only.” Nothing is more irritating than hosting a gathering which is clearly labeled “adults only” and having a friend or relative decide that this rule does not apply to them. No matter what your rationale is- couldn’t find a babysitter? Wanted your kids to see out of town relatives? It doesn’t matter. The host is the person who calls the shots, and imposing your little uninvited darlings on the event is both unfair and flat out rude. If you can’t bear to leave behind your kids, don’t go to the event- accept that your kids aren’t welcome everywhere at all times.

6. Planes/trains/public transportation. No one would ever say you can’t bring your child on planes or public conveyances; that’s asinine and impossible. However HOW you bring your child is very important. Don’t be that parent that brings a high maintenance toddler onto a plane for six hours without being prepared for it. From my experience, no one gets upset with the parents (and are far more patient with the kids) who are actively trying to keep their baby/toddler/small person entertained and calm throughout the flight. People get pretty darn ticked off with the parents that seem to have no concern for their precious little bundle’s decision to repeatedly kick the back of the seat in front of them, or play their movie at full volume without headphones. Don’t be a jerk: Just because you are on an airplane doesn’t mean you aren’t supposed to be a parent.

The moral of the story is that you and your offspring aren’t that special. Be a decent parent — nay — a decent person- and do the right thing.

Your kids will be better for it, and you won’t be “that mom” or “that dad” that everyone can’t stand.

Doesn’t that sound nice?

Related post: 10 People Who Make Parenting Harder


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  1. 1

    dm says

    I think it’s RUDE to have “adult only” WEDDINGS, and I brought my 2 year old and 4 year old to one of those. My COUSIN was getting married and asked that no kids “under the age of 5″ attend. But older kids were allowed? My kids were behaved, it wasn’t an “adult” atmosphere at all.
    I never apologized, I thought it was ridiculous because because of who they invited, they were essentially only eliminating MY children from the event. No one kicked us out either. And no one died because my kids were there.

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    • 2

      Claire B. says

      That is a terrible, terrible attitude to have. #1, what gives you the right to tell your cousin (or any bride!) how to have her wedding??? #2, your kids are going to watch your actions and if you don’t teach them the importance of common courtesy and basic social rules, they are going to turn out like the egocentric and entitled people Lily is writing about. You certainly have the right to raise your kids the way you see fit, but please consider what kind of people you are raising them to be.

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      • 3

        MeggieB says

        I agree with Claire. It is unbelievably out of order to bring your children to a wedding that specifies “adults only” or “no children under 5″. I can’t believe anyone does that!

        And yes, I do have children, before anyone asks. Two of ‘em, and plan more :)

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        • 4

          Felicia says

          I agree with Claire too. I have a 2 year old. If I was invited to a wedding of someone close enough to me that did not want young children, then I would not bring my 2 year old. Respect the people getting married and their wishes on this one day. I would opt not to bring my child if I were offended by my 2 year old not getting invited.

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    • 5

      kathy says

      Nobody kicked you out because they had more class than you. Once you had gone against their very clear request, they decided their happy day wasn’t going to be any more disturbed by your actions and kept quiet. I can, without a doubt, tell you that your actions did not reflect well upon you and you have probably been the topic of many a conversation regarding your misplaced sense of entitlement. Heaven help your little darlings- they may grow up exactly the way you want, and that’ll be just another generation of selfishness.

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    • 7

      Christi says

      Thank you for illustrating the author’s point, dm. Your tone and obvious disrespect for anybody but yourself shines right through. And if you think there is no difference between a well behaved 2 year old and a well behaved 5 year old, you’re delusional as well as selfish. Of course there is a difference. The likelihood of a 2 year old suddenly bursting into tears because of the sudden cacophany of applause at the announcement of the bride and groom, captured for enternity on the happy couples expensive wedding video is far more likely than with a child old enough to have learned basic reasoning and impulse control. But, hey… it doesn’t matter what I, or anyone else says. It’s your world and we’re all RUDE just for being in it.

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    • 9

      Trish says

      You are incredibly rude. It wasn’t your wedding, where you get to make the rules. People have a budget and an idea for how they want THEIR day to play out. Your children were not invited. Bringing them anyway and feeling no remorse was amaxingly selfish, and totally insane. It’s the same thing as deciding that you are just randomly going to crash a wedding to which you were not invited – would you show up at a stranger’s wedding to which you were not invited and think they were rude to not invite you? Your choices in this case were to get a sitter for stay home, not to randomly add uninvited guests to the guest list and increase the expense of that couple. Ridiculous!

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    • 10

      Andi says

      I had a no kids wedding because between my husband and myself we had 45 kids on the list! We both come from families where having 5 or 6 kids is the norm ( and they bring them to the events). We simply could not afford to pay for all those kids plus our venue was far too small and child unfriendly ( ponds and such). Perhaps before you judge you should remember its not about your or your family. Weddings are stressful enough and hard decisions have to be made during the planning. It was rude of you to bring people that were not invited.

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    • 11


      Wow, so you are exactly the person the author is writing about! Congratulations, now you know you’re a jerk! In the end, these all boil down to the same thing-it isn’t YOUR decision. Disregarding the wishes of the people footing the bill is awful. If you were so offended, you should have declined the invitation. If you think adult only (or specific age) events are rude, don’t have one.

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    • 12

      LLOkieLady says

      Oh yeah, cause that is classy. Forget that they are paying thousands of dollars for their special day. It’s all about you.

      Don’t hold your breath waiting for the next invitation.

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    • 13

      BeeMoney says

      Have you seen your COUSIN since the WEDDING? I would think twice before inviting you to future events. Their wedding was not about you or your children.

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    • 17

      Kaya says

      It doesn’t matter what you think or what you want. She said no kids under five. That’s it. End of story. You get to “not believe” in adult only weddings when you throw one not when others do.

      What you did was extremely tacky. It says a lot about the bride that she didn’t ask you to leave with the kids. She was gracious and don’t think there weren’t a half dozen people telling her that she should have kicked you out.

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    • 18

      Tif D says

      I think it is RUDE to ignore the wishes of the bride. It was, after all, her wedding and it should be just as she wishes. I bet if someone went against your wishes you would rip them apart due to your entitlement. This only reflected badly on you. If you did not like their decision you should have stayed home and not attended. It is never ok to go against what is specified on a wedding invite.

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    • 19

      Rachel says

      Congratulations on being a perfect example of the entitled all-about-me attitude that this article is talking about. I bet that you were belligerent too and lacked the sense to even fake feeling awkward. Are you also the type that demands menu changes and special accommodations for get togethers that you attend? Do you wail about , blurt and complain that you can’t afford a babysitter? Your response made you look like a super rude person.

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    • 20

      casy says

      You are that parent. It’s not your wedding and if people wish to not have children of a certain age they should be able to do just that. Regardless if your kids were well behaved or not the point is you tjink you are an exception to the rule. If it bothered you so much and felt like you were being targeted then maybe you should have stayed home.

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    • 21

      odbowes says

      Dear DM…grow up. You and your children are not special. And yes, people can choose to have ‘adult only’ events. If you are so offended, perhaps you should just stay home. A friend of mine was getting married and I replied to the invitation that I was coming with my 7 year old (there wasn’t a mention of ‘no children’ on the invite.) She called me and explained that her father was paying $60 a plate and that they were asking that children not attend. It was at a very nice winery. I completely understood and took my mother instead. Once again, dm, GROW UP.

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    • 22

      bombinabirdcage says

      I had a no-child wedding. I had one cousin show up with two young kids anyway. I promptly and privately asked her to meet us at the reception hall. I explained that every other parent made arrangements and she refused to. She does not get special treatment. Therefore, she was sent packing. If you cannot respect my request, you cannot attend. You sound like a spoiled brat.

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    • 24

      Patti says

      So, that’s funny…the ONLY kids that were asked not to attend were yours? And that doesn’t tell you something? You didn’t read the very obvious writing on the wall about that?

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    • 25

      otdina says

      Well, aren’t you special?

      No. That was not nice of you. Not classy, and just rude. It wasn’t your party.

      You are more than entitled to not agree with the bride’s request not to include certain guests. If you don’t agree, you politely decline the invitation. If she asks why, tell her that you choose not to attend if you can not bring your children. But it was just wrong of you to ignore her wishes. It is her right to choose who attends and who doesn’t. Also, please remember that often the caterer doesn’t discriminate by age. He might make her pay the same amount per plate, even for young guests. In that case, she might want to save her money, and just have, say the ring bearer and flower girl attend, and no other children.

      I am a parent. I have two small children. If they are invited to a party, I bring them. If they are not, I don’t. It is simple. I am honored to be asked to attend someone’s party, and not nearly so rude that I would countermand their wishes just because I feel entitled.

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    • 26

      Cindy says

      Really??!! What an idiot!!! Were you paying $50-$100 a plate only to have your little “darlings” waste their money?? What don’t you understand about being told they AREN’T invited??? YOU didn’t pay for the wedding!!! If you want to invite all convicted rapists to your darling daughter’s wedding – go ahead. Someone else’s wedding is NOT your call!!!!

      People like you are why the schools are falling apart and the courts are so full – get it in your head – your kids aren’t that special to the rest of us… Grow up princess…

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    • 28

      Tracy says

      My cousin also had a no kids wedding. My son was approximately 4 at the time. I really wanted to attend the wedding and was, personally, quite angry that they wanted me (and others) to hire a babysitter in order to attend their special day. Ultimately, it was THEIR day and not mine and I simply stayed home. I could have chosen to go without my son but in my situation it was hard to justify the expense of a babysitter. I could have chosen to take my son with me – yes it was always an possible choice as it would have been with anyone – but I wanted to attend the wedding because I respected my cousin. Showing up WITH my son would have been a huge disrespect to him and his bride. So, I stayed home. That was 12 years ago. I still wish I could/would have gone but I am still certain that taking my son (who has ALWAYS been a miniature adult in behavior) would have been wrong. In fact, this weekend is my grandmother’s birthday party and they are having a dinner without kids to celebrate. My daughter, 4, would be super well behaved should I take her. However, I will likely make the decision to stay home rather than hire a babysitter. I will probably go see my grandma another day and take my daughter with me THEN.

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    • 29

      Amber says

      I love my kids, don’t get me wrong, but I would jump for joy if I were invited to ANYTHING where kids were banned for the night! Once in awhile it’s fantastic to have a night off. Look at these invitations as opportunities for stress-free grown up time! And, yes, it’s rude to bring kids to inappropriate places.

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      • 30

        Kimberly says

        I am with you 100% there, Amber. Who wouldn’t want to have a day without the kiddos. I probably wouldn’t take them anyway even if they had allowed children. My parents certainly didn’t take us anywhere like a wedding until I was six and that was only because I was a flower girl.

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    • 31

      Kylie says

      To be fair, I also don’t really enjoy no kid weddings/parties. But, you must respect the person who is paying for it! I recently went to a no kid anniversary part and all us parents (the majority of the crowd) thought it was weird since the guests of honor had kids themselves, and the host loves kids. (I went only because I had special permission to bring my still nursing, not able to walk baby, otherwise I would have stayed home and sent dh by himself). We’ll upon arriving we all learned the party was next to a very busy road, outside with no fence at all. So lesson learned. When they say no kids it’s usually for a good reason!

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    • 32

      Melissa says

      I had a kid free wedding. I can tell you for certain if you had of turned up at my wedding with kids you would have been shown the door pretty quickly.
      You are the rude one.

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    • 33

      Mf says

      I respond as a bride (in the last 2 years), as a mother (the last 8 months) and as a teacher (responding to your entitlement and that to which your children will have). I have no idea who you think you are exhibiting theses actions, but you really need to get over yourself.

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    • 37

      Josie says

      Rite on! If more than just ur lil ones were under the age limit it would b understandable. It seems like u were singled out. I hate when certain family members act rude and single out kids just because of who they belong to. I would have done the same as u. It makes me angry when some of my family members single out my daughters bro cuz hes not my child and i am no longer with their dad. Or on her dads side they do it with my daughter which makes me even more angry cuz shes 100% blood.

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    • 38

      K M says

      That’s horrible! What a great example you are to your children. People are allowed to make rules for THEIR events. If you don’t like it, then don’t attend.

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    • 39

      Beth says

      Are you privy to their entire guest list? Do you personally know the family structure of every guest at the wedding? If not, how do you know that only your kids were excluded. Perhaps other guests had the class to either leave their kids at home, or if they couldn’t or didn’t want to get a sitter, perhaps they didn’t attend the wedding.

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    • 40

      Claire Webster says

      Wow. How rude are you. You were invited to someone’s wedding and then you decide you’ll bring your uninvited children! When its your wedding and your footing the bill then you decide. You should be ashamed of yourself.

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    • 41

      Sophia says

      So basically you’re one of the douches that this article is talking about. I would have kicked you and your little shit bags out if it was my wedding.

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    • 43


      If what you say is accurate, and the bride and groom really were trying to “only eliminate” your children from their guest list (which I doubt is true-yet another example of your irrational opinion that every decision others make, is about you), I can see why. If your children are anything like their mama, then they too are entitled brats who think the world revolves around them. Not the kind of guests I would want on the day that was supposed to be about me and my hubby.

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    • 44

      tracy says

      The bride and groom are the hosts of the event so it’s their call who attends. I had a kid free wedding but said all or none as it was unfair to include some kids and not others. I would have sent you and your kids packing if you rocked up so rudely with them after being told no and then not invited you to future events. You get a babysitter or don’t go at all, simple.

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  2. 45

    Claire B. says

    Hi! It’s sort of funny that I read this, because despite being married, I have no kids and no plans to have them anytime soon. But a friend sent this to me, because this is a HUGE hot-button issue for me – parents or not, it seems that a lot of people today think that they are just to special for the rules. Whether it’s cutting in line at the train or letting their kids run rampant at a nice restaurant, I just wish people would just accept that everyone needs to maintain common courtesy, no matter who they think they are. Especially if they are parents! How will kids grow up knowing how to behave well when their parents are constantly teaching them that they are too important to follow the rules?? Thank you so much for shining a light on this issue – I hope I have friends like you when I become a mom.

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    • 46


      I agree. As a teacher, I applaud this piece. My colleagues and I were talking about why some kids just don’t follow the rules that we explicit talk to them about, and we concluded that it comes from their parents’ disregard for the rules. So the next time my friend and I had carpool duty, we kept track of which parents broke the rules of drop-off (e.g., dropping kids off where they shouldn’t, cutting in line, etc.). Sure enough, a lot of the kids we had problems with had parents that broke the rules too.

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      • 47


        As a fellow teacher, I completely agree! Many times when there’s a problem student, I meet with the parents and everything suddenly becomes clear. Several years ago, during American Education Week, I had a mother bring her toddler daughter to my class. While I was teaching, she allowed her toddler to sit in my chair at my desk and play on my computer, without asking me. I didn’t know what to say! I didn’t think I’d have to correct kids who aren’t even my students, let alone their parents!

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      • 49


        I too, am a teacher, and students who think that sitting in my classroom earns them an “A” is my absolute biggest educational issue. Entitled children come from entitled parents. This has been proven, over and over again.

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      • 58

        AN says

        I don’t see what is so wrong with talking to my child in public… I do it all of the time, both with my two year old and my 4 month old. It isn’t for anyone’s benefit but ours and I can’t help if other people can hear us. I don’t think ANYONE can talk quietly enough that NOBODY can hear them.

        How bitter do you have to be to “hate” people who talk to their kids in public? Or who look at their children adoringly? WTF?

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        • 59

          Krys says

          That comment wasn’t directed at just talking to your children. It was directed at the people who talk in the loud sing-song voice, the one that screams “look at me and my child!!!” Those are usually the people who have major issues going on behind the scenes and are trying extra hard to put on that perfect facade.

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  3. 61


    I agree with all except the plane one. My son is autistic and no matter how prepared I am … There is always one meltdown. Traveling is hard. It’s harder on kids. It’s even harder on special needs kids. But it has to be done. So stop judging us. We’re really tired of having to tell our kids to stop kicking the seat, too. But your “helpful” suggestions about how my kid just needs disciplined – yeah those aren’t really helpful.

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    • 62

      n says

      Chances are though, you’re trying to do something to assuage the situation, and that’s all that’s needed.

      My husband was on a flight with a fairly small baby and clearly new parents. Baby screamed….the whole flight. Hubby noticed baby looked a lot like our two did when they had gas pains, and politely suggested to new mom and dad that maybe their child had some gas pains and suggested trying to keep burping. He was very sympathetic to the stress of baby crying. Mom and dad replied with doing…nothing except saying “shhhh baby” and “I don’t know why she’s doing this.”

      It was a very unpleasant flight for him and he was irritated, because they did absolutely nothing to help calm their baby.

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      • 63

        hjames says

        It doesn’t matter if your husband was an experienced father of 25 children, no other parent has to follow his “expert” advice. They WERE trying and unsolicited advice is rude.

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        • 64

          Krys says

          Sorry, not everyone is a perfect parent like you. When I was a new mom and having problems calming my son, a more experienced parent nicely offering some advice was welcome. The husband was polite about offering some advice on calming a baby. If everyone had your attitude, then new parents wouldn’t benefit from advice of those who have been there. It’s not always a bad thing, you know.

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    • 65

      Corinne says

      Totally agree with you! I do like this article, but it is a little bit judgemental. As a mother, you must teach your children to behave, but it is ridiculous to blame yourself for every little “bad” thing your son, mostly without meaning it, does.

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    • 66


      The author is CLEARLY not discussing children with special needs- in fact, the author doesn’t seem to be discussing children at all, rather the focus is on parenting (or lack thereof). Any parent who makes a good faith effort to help they child act appropriately in society isn’t included in this post.

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    • 67

      Mindi spenner says

      I don’t think that’s what the author means here. It’s the parents that don’t prepare or try anything. For instance, my friend just went ona flight and she said the parents seated themselves ina different row from the children. How do you think that went? When I travel with my 4 kids, I don’t expect perfection but you can bet I have a bag of tricks- videos, headphones, toys, snacks- the GOOD stuff- not apples and crap I bet you do the same. People see me working it- like you do. They see you working it. When they see a parent have drink first thing, hand their kid a DVD and then check out for the rest of the flight- that’s when they deserve some hatin’. It is an enclosed space. It is stressful for kids. It is our job to entertain them and work the flight. If we ignore them, it will go to hell. It sucks but it is what we have to do. I envy the businessperson who has that drink and settles in- but whatever. I can’t promise quiet from my kid but I will try to keep my kid from kicking the seat by engaging with them- may or may not stop them but at least I tried. I bet this is you too. This is the difference about which the author is speaking.

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  4. 74


    Yes! I’ve witnessed two women talking at a Barnes & Noble, watching and allowing their precious girls to make a mess of the toy area, opening and playing with toys, and leaving the now ruined and unsellable toys littering the floors!!!!

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    • 76

      Trene Remin says

      My older child was not able to sit quietly on a plane, either. Unfortunately, when my dad was dying we had to ride on a plane since my parents live on the other side of the Pacific ocean.

      Not everything is a pleasure trip.

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  5. 78


    How about the parents who don’t feel the need to park in a parking spot when dropping their precious bundle off at daycare in the rain. They think they’re special enough to stop in the fire lane, blocking the single, narrow sidewalk entrance to school so that other parents must pick up their toddlers and rub up against car in violation to get to the sidewalk. I either carry my child thru the wet bushes while holding an umbrella or a rub up against your precious “I’m more important than you” vehicle. Guess what I choose?

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    • 79

      Amber says

      We have the same problem at my daughter’s elementary school. People park in the fire lane when dropping off their kids. I have gotten boxed in before and ended up late for work because of this. Have people always been this rude?

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