Parents are a judgmental lot. Parent bloggers have turned judgment and ridicule into an Olympic sport. And never has that obnoxious trait been on display in all its wretchedness more than the past 36 hours.
I just read a post (I won’t link to it because it doesn’t deserve the pageviews), in which a fellow dad blogger said his first reaction to the Colorado theater shootings was: “Why the hell are kids at this movie?” And he’s not alone. There are thousands of anonymous Internet cowards saying the same thing — ridiculing parenting decisions of others less than 24 hours after a horrific event.
And it makes me sick.
Let me bottom line this thing for you. If your gut reaction to the Colorado movie theater shootings was anything other than “Holy shit, that’s so horrible. I feel awful for everyone who had to endure such a tragedy,” then that’s a real problem. Because while I’m all for using current events as blog fodder and even jumping on the occasional soapbox to talk about parenting issues, criticizing these parents for taking their kids to a movie after they had a gun pointed at them and bullets flying by their heads, is one of the more despicable things I’ve seen from the online parenting community in quite some time.
Would I take Will to any showing of this Batman movie? No, I wouldn’t. Because he’s only 4 and I’ve heard this is a pretty dark movie. But there are some mitigating circumstances to the Aurora incident. Some of the kids were just newborns, including a 3-month-old. And I’m absolutely fine with that. Newborns are great because you can pretty much still take them anywhere, and it’s impossible to warp them for life by enduring Bain and Christian Bale’s harsh Batman whisperings. And when kids are older — in the 9 to 10 range — I’m all for taking them to a midnight showing as a special treat. Kind of like when your parents allow you to skip school for one day and take you to a baseball game or amusement park. I think that’s where some special memories can be made, even though it’s not in the parenting handbook to have your kids skip class.
But all that is secondary.
The main problem I have is that some parents couldn’t wait for the crime tape to go up before they started in on criticizing parenting decisions that go against their own. And that sucks. It starts with pregnancy and whether moms are going to go natural childbirth or use an epidural. Home-birth or hospital? Once the baby is born the breastfeeding vs. formula snark begins, followed immediately by cloth-diapering vs. disposables. Vaccines, daycare, when to introduce solids, when to start watching TV — there is FIERCE debate each and every step of the way. Which is just downright stupid because no one forces us into our parenting decisions and we’re free to do as we please. Yet we’re inundated with the need to convince other parents that they’re wrong and you’re right at every turn.
Newsflash: I took Will to pub trivia when he was just a few months old. I was never drunk, there was no smoking and it was a neighborhood bar. We had fun, I got to socialize and if he got really fussy I’d leave. I also took Will to the movies in his infant carrier when he was just a few months old. He slept the entire time. And lo and behold, my now 4-year-old is neither a raging alcoholic nor a TV zombie.
I don’t know why so many parents feel they have to martyr themselves when their kids are born. Sure life changes big time when you have kids. No you can’t do everything you used to do. But you can still do some things. And you should when possible. Because even though you become a parent, you don’t stop being the person you were before kids came along. And if you don’t take SOME time for yourself once in awhile, you’ll go insane. I’m lucky enough to have family around who can watch Will occasionally, but not everyone does. So because of that, sometimes you end up with parents bringing their kids to movies.
And I don’t know about you, but a crazed gunman entering the theater and killing us all is not something about which I usually worry.
These parents are victims. Everyone in the theater is. They were tortured by an armed lunatic and put into one of the most terrifying situations I can imagine. And none of it — NONE OF IT! — was their fault. Anyone feeling anything other than pity and compassion for what these people had to endure should take a long look in the mirror, because if you judged these parents or called them names, I’ve got a few names I’d like to call you that will be much more deserved.
I just heard Usher’s 11-year-old step-son died. He died from injuries sustained in a jet ski accident earlier this month. And I swear, the same people who are knocking the movie theater parents are going to go on tirades about how young kids shouldn’t be on jet skis. Forget the condolences and jump right to the accusations and condescension. It kills me.
Parent however you want, but don’t be a dick about it.