A word about wee ones

I’m home. I’ll post later today (I hope) about the events of the last few days (I have to do laundry so I can leave again tomorrow.) but first….

I love babies. Just about all of them. They are the only human beings on earth that I judge as a group. (This likely has something to do with the way that they don’t mouth off.) Everyone else, everyone above about the age of 18 months, I meet individually, understanding that I’m going to like some of them (most really) and not like others. I’ve never understood people who say “I love children”, since it has always seemed to me that children are people, and I am going to like some, and not like others. Saying “I love children” has always struck me as bizarre as “I adore the elderly” or “Aren’t middle aged men just the best?” Sure, I admit that the very young have powerful qualities that make it more likely that I am going to love them…three year olds are the major repository of charm in the human race, for example, and scientific principles explained by a six year old are nothing short of devastating in their ability to captivate, and I like the unbridled stupidity, wilfulness, stamina and energy of teenagers – as long as they are yours. (In mine, the charm is lost on me.)

This belief, that children are people, with rights, needs and privileges, is central to what I’m about to tell you. There has been an incident or two at events, over the last weeks, where some adults have felt that some children should not have been present. The occasional mother has been asked to remove her child (not by me, nor by someone hosting the event.) and I wanted to go on record as saying that the actions of attendees at my events do not reflect my beliefs. (I also don’t want to go into the specific incidents. I’ll simply say that I was unaware of all of them, which, since I was at the front of the room, facing all possible offenders, must mean that none of them were a massively big deal. Nobody screamed for an hour, I assure you. Please try to avoid any specifics in the comments, if you know of them. We’re speaking in very general terms here. I don’t want you to write about who’s kid you think was disagreeable, which mother could have done better OR what some other person attending said that you feel wasn’t nice. Anybody who wants to can read here, and I don’t want people saying bad things about each other. It’s very hard to read about yourself.)

I believe that children are people. I believe that as people, they have a right to be anywhere that people have a right to be. I also believe that some babies/children/mothers are inseparable and that that is how it should be for them. Amanda was the kind of kid that I could have left with a babysitter any time I wanted. She didn’t mind at all. Megan, on the other hand, earned herself the nicknames “velco” and “The Klingon” (get it? Cling- on?) within moments of birth. If I hadn’t taken Meg places that I wanted to go, then I wouldn’t have been able to go anywhere…

and isn’t motherhood hard enough? We’ve got the only culture on earth – or in the history of humans that actually segregates adults and children, and it’s really hard on those of us who have little children who feel in their bones that they should be with their mothers. These mothers then have to choose between meeting the needs of their kids, or missing everything for years and years, and I think that really sucks, and discourages mothers from doing what is right for their particular little one. If a kid isn’t ready to be without their mother (or the other way around) and there is an ever increasing list of places that babies/toddlers/children aren’t welcome…then what’s a woman to do….curtail every aspect of her life for years? That’s really feminist…suggesting that a parenting/breastfeeding woman not take part fully in society. Just stay home and breed honey. Whoops. That’s a debate for another day.

That said, I also think that children disrupting something is pretty sucky too. I’ve been at movies or plays or something like that where a child wasn’t happy and nine times out of ten, the mum high-tailed it out or went to the back as soon as she realized that her kid wasn’t into the scene. The tenth time, maybe she didn’t, but I still cut her some slack because I understand that it might be the only time she’s left the house in two weeks, and leaving the house is really hard, and maybe the only thing standing between her and taking up chewing on sticks from the park as a hobby, and because maybe the first step toward decent child care, maternity leave and ethical treatment of parents and families is actually accepting THAT CHILDREN EXIST and are so far, the only way we have found (despite them being loud, dirty and occasionally too damp for my personal taste) to continue the species.

This is a long way around saying that babies/toddlers and children who will be happy there are welcome at my book events. In keeping with the “children are actual people” thing, I would hope that no baby/toddler/child who would be unhappy there would be brought or forced to stay, and I have faith that 99% of parents will make the right call for their particular young.

This means, and I know some of you will be disappointed about this, that it is very likely that these smallest of humans will continue to be present at events. (I hope) Most of them will be happy children, because their mothers, want to meet their needs by staying with them, but also want to meet their needs by not forcing them to stay when they are clearly miserable. These happy children will likely make happy kid noise. As long as this is a reasonable amount, I would like to suggest that the same way we wouldn’t ban anyone who used medical equipment that made noise or a person who had tourette’s who was unable to be quiet, that we all just cope. Happy kids make noise. (Actually, almost all kids make noise, and most adults have a terrible track record, there are tons of happy and unhappy adults who can’t zip it either.)

Saying babies/toddlers/children are welcome as they need to be, however, does mean that every once in a while there is going to be a happy kid who makes too much noise or a mum who fails to recognize that her child is being disruptive (seriously, it’s like becoming snow-blind. Mothers can’t always see it – I assure you that getting 3 hours of broken sleep a night can mess with your judgement.) or there might even be an unhappy kid who was predicted to do well and doesn’t, and instead uses the time to finely hone their impression of demon spawn, and those kids are going to be a pain in the arse….Just like some other people we are all going to meet in our day (I am keeping a list) that are a pain in the arse that we don’t have the right to get rid of either. I know these occasionally loud kids are going to get on your nerves, and sometimes mine too, but I’m begging, on behalf of mothers everywhere, to approach these baby/toddler friendly events of mine with a little tolerance and gentleness for these inexperienced little people and those who are trying to both have a life, and keep the peace.

Back to the regular blog shortly, I’m working on it. I got to bed after the Portland event at 1am, and had to leave for the airport at 4am and all day yesterday was lost to travelling home. I’m wiped, and I’ve got to go again in the morning. Still…I’m on it, and I’ll get something up about Seattle (I love Seattle) later.

Peace out.

477 thoughts on “A word about wee ones

  1. I never leave a comment because I usually get to your website after a couple of hundred comments are on the board. Just wanted to say that I love your books, love your blog, and you inspired me to try and knit socks (all that talk about how comfortable hand knit socks are!). After a Frankensteinian disaster, I am almost finished with my first pair. They are purple and I love them.

  2. As a mother who breastfed her 3 children exclusively and wore them in a sling, I applaud and appreciate your comments!

  3. bummer that you had to talk about this. I hope it doesn’t continue being a problem for you!
    Get some sleep, you poor thing.

  4. Thank you for this, it’s so encouraging to hear children are welcome from a public figure. I’m trying to work out how I can keep attending my quilting guild because some of the members have complained about my 7 month old’s happy noises.

  5. I would have had no idea, attending the event in Portland, that this would even been an issue. I saw a plethora of happy babies and mothers at the event, and was thrilled to see you holding said happy babies (who obviously love you as well). Kudos to you for sticking up for both Mom and child; if I see one in the park eating sticks, I’ll be sure to teach her how to knit with said sticks, just to try to help preserve what precious sanity she might have left. (I don’t have any babies of my own, but I also include them in society as a whole.) Thank you again for your wonderful visit to our humble rainy town. It was fabulous to meet you.

  6. Way more adults annoy than kids. The other night I was out for dinner at a cute restaurant and the lady beside me took her damn shoes off and put her feet up on the chair next to my husband. The waitress had to ask her to remove her feet from the upholstery. Kids don’t have a corner on the driving people crazy market.

  7. It seems like there is a larger and larger group of people who just want to complain and a shrinking group that is able to adapt to and tolerate a variety of situations. Perhaps the first group needs to knit more?

  8. Respecting your wishes to leave the can of worms unopened, I just want to say that I fully agree with you about the difference between saying “I love babies” and saying “I love children”. Babies are inherently lovable, designed by nature to be irresistible in order to further the propagation of the species. (In other words, they melt my heart by existing.) Children? Well, it depends. Like adults, some of them are fabulous, and others I would just as soon avoid.

  9. From a mom who just might take up chewing sticks in the park thanks to my 19 month old, I want to say thank you. I think sometimes people just hear “kid noise” and can’t differentiate between happy and upset kid noise. Thanks for posting this, because though sometimes it SEEMS that my child is running the race to get into as much stuff as possible in the shortest amount of time, he rarely sits and screams his head off. πŸ™‚

  10. The reason I was rubbing your shoulders at the Portland event was that I could see you were stretched so far that you were practically transparent. Wish I could have given you a massive transfusion of rest and strength. A little love and human contact was all I had available.
    I have been to three of your book-signings and have always found the babies to be charming participants. A drooly, toothless grin does wonders for my spirits.
    If a fussy baby is being a problem, the persons being annoyed might say to the mother, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

  11. You nailed it Stephanie. You always do. As a mother of 5 I have seen the most antagonism from people who are childless, usually by choice. Not sure why. Its as if the thinking is that I have chosen to be childless so I can do all these things that children might hinder me doing, so you should stay home because you have decided to have children. I don’t get that really.

  12. It’s sad that you had to say this, really.
    Mothers (and fathers too) can feel isolated, and wonderful though the internet is, the computer hasn’t been invented which will offer to hold your baby for a minute and a half so you can go to the bathroom and actually pull your trousers up with BOTH hands like a real adult human being.
    natalie

  13. It’s too bad this isn’t on Ravelry, because this really needs a
    love(1000)
    (Although then we’d have to deal with agree and disagree, and I think we’d rather not.)
    Thanks for being excellent. =)

  14. While I personally do not have any children, I teach them daily. I like kids. Kids are great, but I too hate not being able to enjoy a simple expeience, like shopping, movies or going to a book store because parents refuse, or just don’t notice, to dicipline their children, but I have an exceptionally high tolerance level. I deal with 13-year-olds on a daily basis. I can take a lot of chaos… the other adults are often WAY more irritating and far harder to get to stop. A child will be quiet and happily entartained with a ball of yarn or a quick oragami frog or somthing. And to those who obviously complained to you about it, get over yourselves… seriously!

  15. I am a former stick-chewer. (Now my kids are teenagers. . . so I’ve graduated to pulling out my hair.) Most moms I know try to do their very best. Every day. Support one another!

  16. The truth spoken by a 6 year old.
    I took my mother and sisters family to the Field Museum in Chicago for the Jackie Onassis-Kennedy exhibit a number of years ago. My nephew being all of 6 years old walked in and with a LOUD voice proclaimed over and over:
    “Why are we going to this beauty shop?”
    My guess that all they men in there heartily agreed with the tyke.

  17. THANK YOU! Mothers everywhere should be as accepted as you make them at your events. And to those who don’t appreciate the happy noises – pick up your sticks and make your knitting-induced patience bubble and leave the Moms (and wee ones) alone.

  18. As a breastfeeding mom of a velcro baby, I really appreciate this! My baby is quiet and happy as long as he is worn. I love going places where he is welcome. I have been asked to remove him from a place in the past (not your events) because the mere sight of a baby disturbed people. It was a public area. I was very bothered by it mostly because I had gone just to get out of the house for sanity’s sake (and my baby was sleeping quietly in his sling…not even eating or cooing, which I could have understood why it was bothersome even if I didn’t agree). I appreciate individuals with your views of children and motherhood!

  19. Thanks for saying this. One of my most horrible memories is taking my 2 kids, probably 2 and 4, to a “kid-friendly” restaurant (complete with crayons and paper tablecloths), where they proceeded to eat reasonably quietly and with what, to me, seemed a minimum of wildness. They were happy, anyway, but we were asked to leave. I know I’m their mother, but I really don’t think they were making very much noise — I have certainly heard them make more. And I don’t think I’m a lunatic. Anyway — it rankles still. (Obviously — they are now 16 and 18 and I’m still talking about this.) Where do people think the money to pay their social security is going to come from, anyway? (from my kids — that’s where.) Bah.

  20. I’m glad you wrote this. Mothers are people too. I’m not one, but I hope that in the event I become one, someone will give me the courtesy of respecting the fact that I too have a right to exist in public, even when I’m accompanied by little ones.

  21. As a mom who took her babies to board meetings (it helped that it was a YWCA board meeting), I loved your analysis. Sometimes, kids don’t want to be where you need to be (and vice versa) and it is important to recognize that, otherwise life can get ugly. But we also need to support those moms who are desperate to get out and have a life – especially if we have been there ourselves….

  22. Amen.
    We’re expected to deal with loud and/or obnoxious adults all the time – it bothers me that people seem to think that kids should be different.
    I agree with Diane above – it seems that as a whole, we’re a lot less able to suck up and deal with things that aren’t exactly how we want them, at all times.

  23. Reason #4,865,465,541 to love the Yarn Harlot! I hate public places that are willing to take my money, but make me feel as though I should have my uterus forcibly removed for giving birth to children who have the nerve to move or make noise.

  24. I have to admit, I tend to cringe when I hear upset baby noise, though I can and do differentiate between baby-who-cannot-communicate-otherwise (aw, poor thing) and young-child-who-can-but-is-screaming-anyway (shhh!). Thank you for writing this, as a reminder to people like myself that children are people, that mothers are people, and that just because babies aren’t a part of my daily life, doesn’t mean they should be excluded in anyway from society at large. I hereby resolve to not cringe next time I hear a baby crying.

  25. Bravo, Steph! It’s so great to hear from a kindred spirit about the child-rearing thing. By the way, the ones who complain the most about others’ children usually get their comeuppance when they have their own. Tee-hee.

  26. I love it when I come to this blog, and what you have to say is more good sense than I’ve heard all week. Bravo. Keep the baby pictures coming!

  27. I love that when you have to address things like this, you do. I also love how you address them- logically, generously and with great kindness.
    There’s nothing I love more than to hear a baby laugh or gurgle when you don’t expect it- like a book event!
    I also love the suggestion by Roxie of offering help instead of criticism. Sometimes a stranger can help refocus an unhappy child because they’re a new face. Give moms a hand when you can!

  28. hear, hear! i agree that most folks just need to take a step back and assess whether baby or kid or adult noises are something that really needs such a harsh response or just some understanding.

  29. I never leave comments, either, as there are usually 5897632 comments by the time I get here.
    But I wanted to say THANK YOU, as a mother who’s been banned from “adults-only” meetings and such for taking a breastfeeding infant. (Though I served in public office for a few years, and took my baby to every meeting, and breastfed while there, too!)

  30. As a mom of three velcro babies who became wonderful teenagers (so I lied, whatever, deal with it!) thank you for this posting.

  31. I too applaud your comments … especially, the comment about feminism & breastfeeding … having breast feed all three of my children discreetly with the use of cleverly knitted shawls and now supporting my daughter-in-law in her own stand on breast feeding in public places, I can only say BRAVA, BRAVISSIMA !!!
    And, while some very young children are eminently more “portable” than others, I do agree it is up to adults to behave like adults, i.e., to exercise, at the very minimum, tolerance … though one would hope we could all do better than that abnd actually move on to something a little more proactively supportive.

  32. I too applaud your comments … especially, the comment about feminism & breastfeeding … having breast feed all three of my children discreetly with the use of cleverly knitted shawls and now supporting my daughter-in-law in her own stand on breast feeding in public places, I can only say BRAVA, BRAVISSIMA !!!
    And, while some very young children are eminently more “portable” than others, I do agree it is up to adults to behave like adults, i.e., to exercise, at the very minimum, tolerance … though one would hope we could all do better than that abnd actually move on to something a little more proactively supportive.

  33. Thank you for your eloquent post and plea. I am convinced that our society has become one in which we express our dissatisfaction with things by trying to make other people feel ashamed of their behavior. I cannot tell you the number of times I get glaring looks from people in child-appropriate restaurants when I bring my daughter–who is a happy, well-behaved child. They have issues around kids and they are going to make me feel bad about it, gosh darn it.
    I agree, a mother who has a baby who is making baby noises (and an occasional cry every so often) is no more disruptive than the women in the middle of the audience who laugh loud and talk to each other about how they agree with the last thing the speaker said. And do so repeatedly. And then get up to pee, having to say “excuse me, pardon me” all the way down the row. That’s just human behavior–but babies get some sort of extra contempt nowadays…

  34. Interestingly, I was just thinking about what I would bring to entertain my 13 month old at the Madison event. I was fretting a little that he might be loud or (gasp and horrors) want to move around. . . . so how do I keep him both quiet and still? he he he—a monumental fete no doubt. I’d have to say though that I find baby/todddler/kid noises (even the temper tantrums) a lot less irritating than people who swear copiously in public or people who scream at their kids in public (or anywhere really). How is it that it’s okay to drop the “F-bomb” but a kid is supposed to be silent?
    Go fig!

  35. I’ve been known to have a lack of patience with vocal children, especially in movie theaters. One example in particular was a small child in a stroller at a showing of “Kill Bill”. Uh, really? Crazy lack of judgement there.
    However, I was at one of the events where a couple of incidents took place, and I was shocked to hear about them later. I heard happy noises, and a couple of kids possibly going a little nuclear in the lobby, but nothing that I felt detracted from anything going on. I think people need to get a grip, and not be so tightly wound. We were all there to have fun, and it hurts my heart a little to hear of some moms having their good time trampled all over.

  36. Amen, Sister! I would have hoped we’d have progressed farther by now. I breastfed both of my children-who are now in their twenties-and found it difficult to go out of the house because of those kind of negative responses. It’s been more than twenty years and we’re still struggling

  37. I love the sound of children. Happy babies? Like bubbling waterfalls. And if they’re not happy? It makes ME happy to know they’re not mine – all I feel is sympathy.

  38. Amen.
    I recently attended a local community children’s theatre production (the actors and actresses were grades 4 to 6). At the beginning of the show there was an announcement that went something like “this is live theatre suitable for ages 3 and up – if your child becomes disruptive you will be asked to leave”. There was a little person across the aisle from us (we were very near the front) who would occasionally call out (mostly in surprise/fear, I think – the show was Peter Pan, after all). Eventually the house manager came and asked them to leave. They didn’t – I am pretty sure that crawling across the eight or so laps it would have taken to get to the aisle would have been way more disruptive than the noise itself ever was.
    Besides, how are kids supposed to learn how to act in various situations if they don’t have a chance to experience them? This wasn’t Broadway, after all.

  39. Well put. Kudos for good sense and an understanding that we don’t all have the right never to be inconvenienced by anyone else, nor do we have the right to inconvenience others unreasonably if we can help it. It’s called life. Deal with it.

  40. As a father of three (6 and under) who takes them places (sometimes with their mother, and sometimes without), thanks. Kids make noise (both good and bad, both verbal and other) and they squirm and kick (including things like airplane seats, even when parents react at warp speed). Nobody makes anybody have kids. If someone does not want them, then by all means, do not have them. Society will be in your debt for not spawning. That said, those who do have kids are nearly always trying to do the right thing and are nearly always aware of what their kids are doing and will take steps to deal with whatever is going on. Kids are part of life (a rather crucial part of it, dare I say). They can’t be banned, cornered off, or muted. Isolated moments aside, most parents would say that this is exactly what makes raising children so wonderful.

  41. As a mom who’s BTDT and has the t-shirt from my “barnacle boy” who’s now an independent eight, I understand. Thanks for your support, Steph.
    And as my husband says every time we hear a baby cry in public, “It’s so nice to hear the sound of ‘not my problem anymore!’ ”

  42. I love you. Stephanie, thank you for saying that so well. I’m leaving my boys home with my husband on Sunday (Webs) because they wouldn’t enjoy it and I’m lucky enough right now to be able to get out by myself. But if I see you next tour, I’ll (knock on wood all goes well; high-risk pregnancy) have a baby with me, because I nurse for years, and the baby goes where I go. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy tour and your time at home to advocate for mothers and children. Too many people forget that children are people, and their mothers are, too.

  43. Lovely rant. Thank you. My son went to work with me (outside the home, 40 hours per week) at 3 weeks of age and continued going to work with me every day for the next 2-1/2 years. It was the best. It was insane. I got to see him grow and earned a living while being his mommy.

  44. Good Geeeawd, the beautiful part of your book tours are:
    1. relaxed, fun atmosphere with people who all have at least one thing in common.
    2. you can converse (even if you’re reserved/shy)with a complete stranger because you have a common subject matter.
    3. the events are free (okay, maybe a suggested donation which helps someone else, another plus!)
    Do you put a star at the bottom of the promotion poster warning “There May Be Children Present”? Boggles my mind.
    WEBS is waiting for you Steph-welcome to Massachusetts.

  45. I’ll admit that I am definitely one of those adult women that need to be told to zip-it, although sometimes I think I could get a zipper off of my mouth too, if I had to. I’m not proud of this, but I am glad that you-all still let me attend events. I’ll get better. I promise! πŸ™‚

  46. Thank you, thank you, thank you! As the mom of 3 kids under 5 (the youngest is 3 months old), sometimes I’m just desperate to get out (especially in the depths of a NH winter. I freely admit that my 2 year old can be loud (she is rarely upset, just exuberant about life) & I am very careful to be certain that the volume is appropriate for the venue.
    There are times, however, that unkind words can nearly destroy me (in general I feel sorry for people who can’t appreciate the boundless joy in a small child). I think that people forget what it was like when their children were young – but most moms I know are very well aware (and embarrassed) if their child is acting inappropriately & will take steps to rectify the situation. Patience and a kind word will do much more to help than anything nasty – I really appreciate the suggestion to offer help – there are times that a sincere offer of help can make me feel like I am not alone in the situation.
    ps. I agree on the not liking all kids comment – I happen to love my own, but there are children that I’m not too fond of – babies are an entirely different situation!

  47. I may be an empty nester now but I still remember the days when I’d venture out with my kidlets. I did try to minimize any disruption to those around me in places like movie theatres or restaurants by generally removing the little darlings temporarily until I could calm one or the other down if they got their noses out of joint. But I can remember times when their father had been out to sea for months, courtesy of the Navy, leaving me alone with two little toddlers and I just HAD to get out and be around adults. So now, whenever I find myself by a young mother who has that look of desperation that I remember and her little one is fussing, I try to think back to my own mothering days and cut her some slack. Besides, I like to make faces at the babies and that, along with things I find in my knitting bag of tricks, will usually distract the fussiest baby.

  48. I’m not a mom, but I agree. How are children supposed to learn how to behave in places if they do not see examples? I work in a Library and yes I do see my share of children who need to work on their social skills, but I see just as many adults who need to too. Try a quick game of peek a boo it can solve a large number of problems! Even just a little wave and smile will turn an unhappy child into a happier one.

  49. Brava! My daughter — who is now 11 years old and 5’2″ tall — doesn’t have this problem any more. But when she was small (2 years old and walking) I would be very frustrated because folks would want to “walk over her” as she was standing next to me (in a store, on the street). If I was irratated enough I even would say “Pretend that’s a person standing there.”
    It’s amazing how many appear to believe that “peoplehood = adulthood.”
    Best. I saw you in Annapolis (with my daughter, who knits and had you sign her knitting bag). It was great!

  50. Yeah! I was never what you’d call a “baby person” until I had 3 of my own, but babies are a pretty necessary part of the human race, after all. We’ve all been one at some point.
    I’m waaaay more annoyed by adults than I’ve ever been by baby noises. Plus, now that my own kids are teens and older, baby noises seem very quiet by comparison.

  51. I have no children, but I never in a million years would ask any shop to remove a family for making noise! How totally crazy is that?
    I mean, there are so many other things in this world that offend. A baby cooing, screaming or even breast-feeding would never be one of them! People seem to have lost a grip on the reality of life and our roll in it.
    As a few people mentioned above, seeing babies at knitting events or any event really, is just part of the fun! They are like an attraction in themselves. Besides, they inspire more baby knits!

  52. Thank you SO much. As a person who likes her children, and likes to do things with her children, and who thinks that not only are children people, but that they are people with interests who deserve the opportunity to go and do stuff out there in the world, thanks. No, it doesn’t always work out. Yes, I’ve had to walk out of places because I either misjudged my girls’ interest, or energy level, or something else, but generally, it’s nice to have all sorts of people out there in the world, including small ones. (And how are they going to learn how to be adults who can go to these sorts of things unless they get a chance to try?)
    It’s funny you should write this today; I just posted about taking my daughters to a klezmer concert last night, and about trying to find the balance between letting them express their enjoyment of a very lively musical event, and making sure that that expression didn’t upset anyone else’s enjoyment. Here’s hoping I was somewhere near the middle on that one.
    Travel safely, and I hope there’s some sleep in it for you somewhere!

  53. When you get a minute (ha!), I’d like to hear tales of how the velcro baby grew up into an independent young woman who doesn’t throw tantrums when her mum leaves on business trips.
    You know, when you have time.
    πŸ˜‰

  54. Sing it sister. Children should be included in all the ordinary things of life – the grocery store, church services, concerts, Yarn Harlot talks. This is how they learn to mingle in society (and besides, most of the time they are pretty fun to have along). I just attended your event in Portland and was thrilled to see the babies and children (of all ages). The only time a child needs to be pulled is if they are screaming (this is part of learning acceptable social behavior); all other child noises are music.

  55. I would suggest that in today’s society kids should be welcome everywhere- with the exception of school- speaking as a teacher I could be a little biased!! But seriously- how else will they learn to behave in public places?? I too love teenagers unless they owe me coursework!!! Go for it Harlot and do come to the uk soon!!!

  56. As another mom who breastfed her Klingons, I appreciate your words. Kids do make noise sometimes – often at moments that are deemed inappropriate. But then again adults do too. I personally find it easier to ignore a wiggly and slightly noisy kid than a pair of whispering adults. Thank you for posting this. I feel for those mothers who were asked to leave.

  57. I just wonder how many people who complain about the noises of babies and children just _need_ to have their cellphone on and _have_ to take that call on the bus or in the restaurant or where-ever.
    “No, I’m on the train. On the TRAIN! He did what?!?! Oh my GOD…” ad nauseum. Give me a happy baby any day of the week.

  58. You go girl! Well said as usual. To Lynn in Tucson — the “velcro babies” do in fact grow up well-adjusted, IF… you let them be Velcro long enough to feel secure and establish their trust, instead of tearing them away from their initial source of security. Basic developmental psychology, Erikson if I remember right.

  59. I appreciate the balanced perspective you offer on meeting the needs of people large and small.

  60. Thanks for the inspiring post, acknowledging both sides! -I wish I could have made it up to Portland, but maybe next time.

  61. I think a lot of people freak out whenever a kid makes noise because of the 10% of experiences where the parents are letting their children be out of control and disrespectful. So, if any kid makes a peep a lot of people go on the defensive, which is totally unfair to the other 90%. And, it’s one thing to be upset about apparent non-parenting… it isn’t the kid’s fault. I always appreciate it if a child is being really loud in a happy way… if they are laughing and joyous, we should all be really happy about that! People on airplanes tend to be really intolerant of kids and upset when they cry. Man, when I’m on an airplane sucking recycled air for two hours, I WANT TO CRY TOO. And $100 gets you earphones that completely cut out all noise, so, be prepared. And celebrate children, don’t hate ’em. Please.

  62. Word.
    As for the “debate for another day”, I think it’s absolutely tied to this one. The rights of children to exist are vital to the right of women to live lives that aren’t entirely defined by motherhood.

  63. as the mother of a former velcro baby (now 13) who nursed for well over three years, i have had occasion to notice how they grow up, and it is true, and cannot be said enough, that babies who have their needs met consistently grow up to be the loveliest people.
    i am horrified that people would complain about babies and children, but really grateful that you’re standing up for the rights of families. thank you!
    meredith in ypsi

  64. Poor Steph. Get some rest; the Blog can wait.
    Sometime when you have a minute, I’ll tell you about the time I took my baby, then 2 months old, to a triple bill at the movies. In order to keep her quiet, I breastfed her non-stop through the whole thing– 7 hours, I think. Boy, was I sore the next day…

  65. Bravo indeed. I would add that your events (other than buying the book) are free. That doesn’t mean they are less valuable, just that the “I paid $20 to listen to that kid giggle through the movie” argument doesn’t really apply.
    A (child free) friend of mine recently opined that now that more people seem to be opting to remain child free combined with less mothers being full-time SAHMs appears to have resulted in less tolerance for the presence of children…anywhere. “Remember the 70s…moms took their kids everywhere and everyone just dealt with it because that’s just how it was. Now if you take your kid somewhere it’s like you’re a criminal.”
    Tolerance. Pass it on.

  66. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    You’ve hit the nail spot on the head – we need to be supportive of all women in their choices to have (and not have) children! And having young people in public is a great way to teach them how to be responsible citizens.
    I will be childless (sort of) at the Webs event on Sunday – much to hubby’s dismay I’m leaving the 2 year old at home. He’s one who could NOT handle this sort of event. The one that’s due in June will be coming but I don’t think she’ll make any noise πŸ™‚

  67. Thank you for saying this. While I’ve never been to one of your events I always appreciate people who *truly* understand. I have quit knitting circles and friendships due to this intolerance of people.

  68. Thanks for posting about this. I read someone’s blog post yesterday about how she took her baby to your event in Portland and the negative reaction she received from an audience member. I really felt bad for the mom!
    She just wanted to get out of the house and have some fun but bring her kid along too! And that did not sound like an easy task either! Thanks again for being so supportive of moms out there who, like this lady, just wanted to have a life but include her child as well. Elaine.

  69. I have had both velcro children and the easier type, and really appreciate your favorable attitude! My oldest was very verbal before she reached the age where she knew how to whisper, so I was mortified by her comments like ‘look Mom, that man doesn’t have enough hair!’ or (in line at the bank) ‘remember that time you had blood on your panties?’
    We had a pastor say once, when a little one was really unhappy but there was nowhere to go because it was a tiny church and frigid outside, “We probably all sound like that to God.” Best sermon ever.
    Get lots of rest now that you’re home! I’m sure you’re all glad to be back together.
    p.s. I bought 2 skeins of bulky thick and thin hand painted yarn; what should I do with them?

  70. I love your attitude to our little treasures. I find it difficult to understand how children are supposed to learn how to behave well in public places if they are excluded from such places.

  71. Amen Sistah, I would have expected nothing less from our Harlot, but am sorry you had to address this issue anyway.

  72. short response: yes!
    longer form:
    1. My grandmother, who always said other people’s crying babies never bothered her (she held all she could connive to)
    2. Our priest who said there was no better sound in the world than the sound of happy children coming to the altar (ok, this only works if you’re into religion)
    3. Our choir director, Andrew. We’ve often had babies and toddlers come for (adult)rehearsals. As one vocal toddler left(bedtime, the parents with kids always left at the half-time rehearsal break)–anyway, Andrew went over to the child, knelt to her level, and told her how happy he was she’d been there and how important her presence was to us.

  73. As a first-time mom with a 13 month old, I really appreciate your words. I plan on bringing my son to your Madison stop on the tour, and fully expect him to be saying “hi” “uh oh” “bye bye” and “mommy” from time to time. And you know what? I’m okay with that, and I’m glad you are, too. Who knows… maybe he’ll even make it to the signing stage of the event and you’ll get to meet him yourself.
    I look forward to seeing you, and having my little Henry blow you kisses.

  74. I was at the Portland event, completely surrounded by other knitters of all ages, and a DELIGHTFUL number of babies. Not a single one of those babies was in any way a nuisance. There were also a fair number of young children, who were beautifully behaved. Cannot imagine who might have found anything to complain about!
    It was a super evening and I had a fabulous time. Wish I’d had time to stay and tell you in person how much I enjoyed it, show you my first pair of socks, (which I finished while while waiting for the event to start), and give you the bar of “Emergency Chocolate” I brought. Sounds like you could have used it. Soak up love from your family, and I hope you get some sleep.

  75. Thank you so much. It is so frustrating to hear about people who just don’t want the sight of a baby wherever they are. It’s almost as though I have made their life miserable because I brought my baby! Who happens to be very jolly and nice!
    I want the front parking spot everytime I go to the mall, but it’s just not gonna happen.
    Oh well, I guess the world doesn’t revolve around me after all!

  76. Once again, you know just how to say what most of us feel, Ok what I THINK most of us who read your blog feel, and are still charming about it.
    My husband and I have never had the luxury of living close to family who could babysit for us and when we go on vacation, our son comes along. We have always taken him with us where ever we go and are very conscious of his needs as well as the needs of those around us.
    You would be shocked at some of the experiences we have had at higher-end restaurants when we arrive for our meals. Everything from dirty looks from the maitre-d and/or staff (as well as other diners) upon our arrival to as far as being told (on a couple of occasions) “you DO realize that we don’t have children’s menus and really don’t serve children friendly meals” – Huh? Really? You mean if I give my child something from your menu, something that it OK for me to eat, he might, er, IMPLODE? Huh? I didn’t realize that children ate a completely different diet from what I eat. I actually had to tell the staff at a couple of restaurants that my child was capable of eating food from their menus and (to a particularly snarky waiter) actually said “and he even knows how to use silverware and drink from a glass!”
    Needless to say, I once again applaud you and your level headed common sense.
    No wonder we all love you!

  77. I am tearing up as I read this. Partly because you feel the need to even state these things. And partly because I know, because I’m one of them, that there are mom’s out there who have been afraid of coming to see you in case their kids might turn out to be the one(s) that ruin the experience for the crowd.
    Then when I read about the “unhappy kid who was predicted to do well and doesn’t, and instead uses the time to finely hone their impression of demon spawn”, I almost snorted. Thanks to Ravelry, I have met up with some wonderful ladies, and we have started our own KnitNight. I can usually count on hubby to be home in time for me to go out for a couple hours, but it never fails, on the days when he can’t, and I have to bring the boys with me, well, you described it perfectly. I bring a bag or box of activities, and they go through those in minutes, and the rest of the time, I just want to cry. The ladies all have kids, and are very understanding. I think, if you don’t mind, I’m going to quote your demon spawn thing.
    This whole post rocks, and I know there’s moms out there cheering you on. But then again, we almost always do that anyway. Excuse me now, my 4 year old is paging me…

  78. It bothers me when someone says,they like some people ,some they do not like.
    Unless someone does something really crumby to
    someone.But of course there are some who are just anoying.
    I hope that if we ever meet,you decide you like me.

  79. huh. scratching my head. we’ve either been that mother or wished we weren’t that mother. how do we teach the kids in seclusion?
    i am looking forward to bringing 2 of my 4 aspiring master knitters to Webs this weekend!!!

  80. Children and babies are the ultimate inexperienced amaturs. How the heck are they going to learn to get along in the world if they don’t get to participate? I had limpets, I wore velcro babies, chewed sticks and tore out chunks of hair. the only time I have a problem with children present is when the venue is inappropriate or dangerous for the children ie; adult movies, adult bar scenes, Biker rallys. I know that sometimes for safety, harnesses and leashes are needed, as long as they don’t involve the neck I am fine.
    Please keep the babies coming, knitting is a great venue.

  81. Most would consider me a child-less woman (I do have two dogsons as well as a handful of godchildren), and I’m lucky enough to work in a museum and see children regularly. My favorite days are those days full of children exploring, but when I started this job I had a tough time with teeneagers. I think I finally have it figured out. We adults tend to ignore them, because we think, well, they are teenagers. When you look them in the eye and talk to them like they are human beings they are absolutely remarkable. Some days I prefer teenagers to adults!

  82. As a mom of 3 beautiful children (when they’re asleep), I applaud you. Thank you.
    I work full time, come home, work at home (you know, cooking, laundry, homework, etc.). The one time that I might get to go out, I may have to take the kiddo’s. Sometimes it’s fine, sometimes it’s not… They’re now 9,7,and 6, and it is more often not, just because one will have something the other wants, the first will share, the second won’t give back……..(sorry, just thinking of last time!) I haven’t gotten the opportunity to come to any of your events (not for lack of trying/praying, and hoping!), as yet, but that might be my only -mom time- even if I have them with me. I appreciate your understanding that this might just be my sanity saving event for the month (or so!), and to have patience with me.
    If things get rough, I DO leave, (include threaten, bribe, and a number of other things I’ve tried-not always my proudest moments), but knowing that there is at least one other person in the place that understands helps to make it better.
    Thank you.

  83. I rarely comment, but read often. I am so grateful for this post today. I really want to come when you are in Salt Lake, but live 2 hours away and can’t leave my Klingon for that long. So, I will pack her up, bring her yarn to play with and lots of fun toys and pray that she allows her Mama to have a day out and not resort to chewing on sticks (which I have seriously contemplated on many an occasion!).
    Anyway, thank you. I feel much better now about bringing my 22 month old little one.

  84. Hmmm. It would be disappointing to drive two hours and wait in line two hours, just to hear you speak and then not be able to hear you. Have you considered taping some of your engagements? The Yarn Harlot on CD. Doesn’t that sound grand? Or podcasts!

  85. I nursed all three of mine, and when they weren’t nursing they were in the soft pack on my back. But when they were tired, sad, hungry, I didn’t try to take them to the library or the grocery store. Somehow this doesn’t seem like rocket science. A child who is tired, sad, hungry, whatever is going to act about the same way adults do in the same situation–which is to say annoying. Babies were easy to take places–toddlers harder. A little thoughtfulness, both on the part of the adult with kid, and the adult without, would go a long ways. I think I come down a little further toward folks leaving when their kids are disruptive than you do, but what I really like about your post is the call for generosity of spirit to all. Keep it up!

  86. Thank you! As a stay at home mom of 5 (thankfully the youngest is now 5 and I’m past chewing sticks stage), I really appreciate it when others understand that our lives can’t stop for 10 years in case it makes other people slightly uncomfortable. And you’re right, I’m more annoyed by adults who misbehave (and should know better) than children all the time. Plus children are people too!

  87. As a Latin, I have always been amazed at the attitude toward children in this the USA. Latins think children are entertainment and natural, even the men, often? Thanks for sticking up for mother’s needs and rights.

  88. I was at the back of the event in Portland, with my happy little guy (10 mos). He was totally flirting with all the Blue Moon Fiber gals. Unfortunateley we weren’t sure (my hubby and me) how long he would last so we ended up leaving around 8, but he didn’t get cranky until after we left. During the event he made all sorts of happy noises, the BM gals even encouraged his gurgles, giggles, and claps. I just knew when my little nursling was spent and took him home for sleep. My only dissapointment was I wasn’t able to get my book signed or Steph her beer that I had brought her!

  89. Ageism against children is no more tolerable than ageism against the elderly. Thank you for standing up for mothers and their babes. I don’t have any babies myself, but am always happy to see parents and their kids at events like yours, because it means that at least those families are enjoying hobbies and culture together and not just tethered to a TV or a game console or a couch. Let’s keep remembering that the knitting community, like all communities, needs young people to survive.

  90. My son was a screecher. Come to think of it, he still kind of is (at 22). I spent a lot of time in parked cars waiting for the rest of the fam to finish up whatever they were doing and join us. Just part of the job. Boy not happy. Remove Boy. Then everyone can be happy, including Boy.
    Well, except maybe me, but there were always doggie bags and stuff.

  91. I work in retail, and I hear my fair share of fussy/whining/screaming/crying kids throughout the day (and consequently have “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” stuck in my head a lot :p). So, thank you for this post; I need my perspective adjusted on occasion. Cheers!

  92. Amen. I am childless myself, (but not for lack of trying ). I love babies and most children. πŸ™‚ I think if a child is behaving, even though he may be making happy noises that people should be more tolerant. I know I’ve offered to help mothers who look like they could really use just 5 quiet minutes to themselves. Bravo Stephanie.

  93. Considering that most kids are better-behaved than an awful lot of adults who really should know better, amen, sister, amen!

  94. We recently vacationed at Disney Land, and when we took the 6yo with us into one of their high-end restaurants the waitress looked at us like she had just been asked to serve dinner to a cockroach, rather than a little girl. Cuz, you know, it’s really rare to see a child at Disney Land.

  95. I think the stress of those who are distracted or iritated has to do with the great value they place on being in the same room with you.
    I feel the only time a child should be excluded is if there is inappropriate activity- we can get a bit racy, but come-on, this is knitting, not brain surgery.
    There is a growing divergence of cultures that do or do not include children. As much as I respect your right to choose to not have children, that little screamer may be your brainsurgeon one day.
    Oh, and dogs are great. But they’re not people.

  96. As the mother of six kids I want to say that I west everywhere with all six of them in tow. 50% of the time they were pretty good, and the other 50% it was a crap shoot. A lot of people complained about the noise, and a lot of people praised them for their good behavior. Bottom line–they grew up knowing tht Mom would rather have them with her than anything else in the world. Bless you Yarn Harlot. You are the best!

  97. Amen Sister! I have NEVER been upset by happy baby noises and it’s much easier to tune out cranky kids than cranky adults!
    Rachel t. you are probably so right! Loud people on cellphones never think that they are disturbing anyone, and some of them look at you all indignant like you are eavesdropping on them!

  98. Thank you! Maybe b/c I am pregnant with my first, I’ve been drawn to various online discussions about babies and children and how they should or should not behave and where they should or should not go. I was surprised to see a fairly common attitude that “children (and babies) should be seen and not heard.” I thought that idea died out with the Victorians.

  99. Wow. I think that I love you now. πŸ™‚ I am a mother of 5. Most of them Velcro kids and when my second kid was born I was told to remove myself and my girls from a restaurant because they were being loud. 3month old happy screamy noise and a 2 yr old keeping her happy. I wouldn’t go anyway for a long time if it meant having to take my kids. I was isolated. Until I started knitting πŸ™‚
    Thanks for this post.

  100. I LOVE YOU MAN !! NO, REALLY I LOVE YOU MAN!!!
    Seriously I know how it goes. I have 4 kids. My surprise 3yo has made more events happier with his imputs and outbursts than any adult person I know. Case in point his Great-great-grandfathers funeral, when the pastor greeted everyone at the start of the service Cole greeted the loudest, and sang along with the hymns, and yes he had been going to church sence BEFORE birth!
    I love you!!

  101. as someone without kids (maybe some day, but not yet), i still completely agree. i like seeing kids (both babies and children) and as long as they are not screaming their head off (well – if they are, then their parents are taking them outside to do whatever needs to be done), welcome!
    the only time i get really annoyed is when kids (not so much babies, but older kids) get taken to events that are likely to be a bit long/boring for them and the parents haven’t thought through bringing/improvising toys for them. having sat next to a couple of kids on LONG plane rides who didn’t have any toys packed, not even a couple of crayons. i still remember my mom being very happy when she realized that i could amuse myself through any concert with a couple gum wrappers (braid them, make origami, etc).

  102. A voice of reason in the wilderness … again. As someone else already said here, earlier — thanks for being excellent. I absolutely love that you can have me doubled-over-with-laughter-spewing-coffee-on-the-keyboard one minute, and nodding my head vigorously in serious agreement on serious subjects the next. You rock, Stephanie.

  103. They don’t even have to be babies to be demon spawn. I bought MYSELF a game boy so that when I want to go somewhere that isn’t necessarily my 12 and 7 yo’s cup of tea, they can play on the game boy and I can visit with relatives, shop for yarn, whatever it is they don’t want to do.
    So thanks for understanding those of us who have demon spawn for children.

  104. Though a dedicated daily Harlot reader, I also rarely post (honestly, only once before) and while it disappoints me that a matter which is really nothing more than basic human respect has to be controversial, I applaud you writing this. I was a breastfeeding mom of two, and one of my fondest memories is of taking my velcro infant to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY. I was so nervous people would be taken aback by the mere presence of my infant-in-sling, and moreso nursing (I made sure to do it in a portion of the gallery which houses statues of bare-brested women, lest anyone try to get snippy). At one point a pair of elderly women walked up to me and said: What a great mother, starting your baby off so early on fine art. It made me realize how much I had been looked-askance-at and marginalized when I joined the ranks of public motherhood. Thank you again for supporting moms everywhere.

  105. You know, as a mom of 3 perfectly capable of being the spawn of all that is evil, when I’m out, even when there are other evil spawn children, I don’t seem to notice them.
    I applaud you for saying this, and hope that as knitters, whether we have babies or not, we can just let it be for a little while… Maybe even give that mom and baby a little smile… the baby might just stop fussing long enough to wonder who you are.
    Go, wash undies, hug family, and sleep!

  106. Thank you! I’m a mom of kids who are now 6, 5, and 3…but there was a day that going anywhere meant that I had a 3, 2, and nursing baby. I knew there were places that we weren’t welcome. And that sucked. Now, as a homeschooling mom…they’re all still with me…they’re just a bit bigger. I usually can leave them with my husband for an outing…but most days I can only go where we’re all welcome. That said…my 3 y.o. loves the LYS…and the shop ladies love her. That’s a good thing. I hope that this time you’re in Los Angeles there are more tickets available.

  107. Thank you for this, from a mother of a 3 yr old who’s only ‘me-time’ is going to work in the morning while he’s at preschool!
    Interesting book out called “The Good Mom Myth” which points out that motherhood today is a bigger struggle with all the ‘judges’ out there watching you! No matter what you do, someone will tell you that you’re wrong. We used to have a community of support…

  108. I don’t mind happy babies or children, they are enjoyable to hear and be around. That being said, I live next to small children that scream/screach constantly and drive my husband and I nuts (they are new neighbors, we were here before them – our previous neighbors had three wonderful children). When DH and I go out, it’s to get away and enjoy some quite time. The last thing I want to hear is a screaming child.

  109. Thanks for the calming of the waters, Steph! I am firmly in your camp about society being more excepting of the fact that children are an integral part of our world and need to be welcomed, guided, supported, included, enjoyed and respected. But, that said, I have also seen situations where I seriously question the judgement of the adults in charge who bring their children to events that just aren’t set up to meet their young one’s needs or interests. Your type of event is the type of place where I would expect to see children. After all, aren’t most of us knitters moms??? And it is, assuming from the many posts of yours that I have read, a casual and laidback atmosphere. It seems to come down to a case of mutual respect. As in, those without young children who may have forgotten what it’s really, really like to raise little ones, should put themselves in that parent’s shoes. But likewise, those with small children need to remember that even though every living, breathing moment of their offsprings’ existence is an event of wonderous proportions, not everyone else will be as enthralled as you are with your youngster. So let’s all play nice in the sandbox of life! πŸ™‚

  110. Thank you Stephanie, thank you thank you… as a new mother I needed to hear it put in those terms.
    PS I love Seattle too. Can’t wait to see pics.

  111. We all need to be more gracious to not only mothers with young children, but everyone else nowadays as well, now don’t we?

  112. Thank you thank you thank you. I really can’t understand what’s wrong with so many adults that they think children are not people.
    And thank you to Erica, whose comment made me snort my coffee in a most unladylike fashion, because I just love the idea of nursing in a room full of bare-breasted statues. So much that I am thinking of looking for such a room and bringing my toddler there.

  113. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I was once told to take my child “to the back of the bus” because he was crying on a tour bus and needed a nap. I felt so humiliated on top of already feeling frustrated that I had a crying child on a tour bus (who fell asleep before we were forced to the back, by the way).

  114. I think the need to educate people on this subject is indicative of the segregation of children from society that you point out.

  115. I would never want to make anyone feel bad–it’s just that I think glaring at moms with little ones at your book events (which don’t cost anything to get in), asking them to leave or doing anything that makes them feel unwelcome, only serves to diminish the number of potential future knitters in the world. While my own teenage daughter hates knitting, many children of knitters will themselves pick up the needles. They will be the ones to make the blankets and hats that warm babies in need. Some of them may become the celebrated designers of the future. We just never know how it’s going to go. Perhaps a larger message is lost in straining to hear your words over the sound of those too young to know they should be quiet.

  116. The balance is much easier when people are welcoming and understanding. The considerable shame dumped on mothers whose children, the little individuals that they are, choose inopportune moments to express that individuality.
    Easing someone else’s burden brings so much joy. I’ve held many a cranky baby (and entertained many children of various ages) so his/her mother could eat a whole meal, finish a conversation, have a shower in peace. It does me no harm at all. (I’m one of the people who loves children, babies, adolescents, adults, the elderly, et cetera, barring a couple of malcontents, but I try to love them too, clearly they need it.)
    I hope more take the opportunity to help (and more mothers accept the help). Life’s too darn hard if you’re always going it alone.

  117. I teach ninth graders (iow, teenage hormone city) all day. Although single and childless, I still LOVE babies. Happy baby noises are much more enjoyable than morose teenage attitude, even if it is silent!
    Whoever got cranky about baby noises must not have fondled enough good yarn that day!

  118. Word. Especially when we all know that the adults that get annoyed at children noises forget that they were once children that were just as noisy, if not noisier.
    And I had to laugh ’cause I thought DH was the only one that used “kling-on” for our children, mostly for the older one w/stickier velcro.

  119. I so agree. I’m childless and find I have more tolerance for other people’s kids making noise in public places than some of my power-mommy friends.

  120. As a mom of teenagers, I still remember all too well the days we would get on a plane with my little ones, and people would cringe. “A baby on a plane! They’re going to scream/kick my seat/stink up the place.” We would get through the flight unscathed, and people would stop and tell me how surprised they were that my kids were well-behaved. They weren’t necessarily well-behaved, they were busy. We brought toys, games, snacks, drinks, anything they could possibly want or need. They learned to entertain themselves and behave in public on planes, in restaurants, etc. Sure there were bad times – spiked a fever on the plane, cried all the way home, but there’s a difference (at least to moms) in hurting inconsolable crying and just bored or tired or want my way crying.
    I for one am a huge fan of babies in general, and happy baby noises too. If little people aren’t allowed to mingle with big people in this world, how will they ever learn?

  121. Bravo!! From a mother of 3 who are now 6,5, and 3. There is no way to predict what will happen sometimes and sometimes it would be nice if more people could be understanding.

  122. Well said. You can put me in the camp of folks who would rather listen to happy kid noises than other people’s cell phone conversations every time πŸ™‚

  123. You can’t see me but I am standing on my chair yelling “Hurrah!” My daughters are in their 30’s now but I will never forget the time when, pregnant with the younger one, I took the 2Β½ year old to a fabric store with me. Now my girls were always extremely well behaved in public (partly because I worked with them on acceptable public behavior & partly because I tried to never spend more time than they could tolerate in places that were terribly boring for them). As soon as we walked in the door, the owner started in – “Watch your child; don’t let her touch anything with her sticky hands (her hands happened to be as clean as mine or the store owner’s); what is she doing (uh – just standing there looking at the weird lady!” Needless to say, I left very quickly without buying anything, never went there again & told all my friends about our experience. One reason (among many) why I love my LYS is their welcoming attitude to my grands when I bring them to buy mommy yarn for her BD.

  124. Thank you so much for this, Stephanie. My eyes are welled up with tears now. I opted not to bring my young children to any events for this tour due to some negative feedback I got at a “Casts Off” event. I hope your comments today will encourage young mothers to attend your events and dissuade certain other adults from being critical, rude, and outwardly hostile.
    I hope you get some rest. πŸ™‚

  125. Thank you for this Stephanie. I don’t have kids yet but had a mom who believed and still does, that the only way children will learn how to behave in public is by being in public. And in my experience, many adults could stand a lesson or two in this too.
    I am glad you are defending the right of babies and kids (and their mommies!) to be at these events. It is unfortunate that anyone was made to feel unwelcome.
    eloquent as always

  126. As a mother of three lovely children who are at all times making some kind of noise or another, I thank you for your words. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you rock!

  127. Sorry you even felt the need to say those things. IMO the fault tends to lie in the parent and not in the child when things turn ugly. This does not mean that they are a bad parent, but perhaps they have misread the kid this time, or have reached the end of the rope for non-adult contact and can’t quite pry themselves away. However, we have all seen parents turn a blind eye to kids doing irresponsible things in public and largely disrupting the scene for all. THAT does not leave me either happy nor tolerant of either the wee or not so wee people responsible.

  128. Yay! Thanks you for this. I got to the Seattle event late and was way in the back. I was close to two unhappy babies and a few happy ones. I was perfectly happy. I was glad these parents took there kids out with them. Sure it was hard to hear at times, but so what? I don’t have kids yet, but I think they should be able to go with their parents to a book store for goodness sake.

  129. As a young woman who has made the decision not to have children, I just wanted to put my two cents in (I noticed that the child-free are a little underrepresented in the comments thus far). I think babies are great, but I would rather play video games or knit than breastfeed or change diapers. I can’t wait for my sister to have children so I can knit for them, but I like to hand them back to mommy when it’s time to head home. I just want to show my support for the people who have chosen to have a family and want their children to learn and be happy in the world, whether that means they bring their babies or leave them at home. I love to see babies & kids at events, especially knitting events. I love the way they watch knitting so intently, like they see something magical in the stitches. Babies learn how to act from their parents and their experiences in society, the more exposure they get the safer, happier and more comfortable they will be as they gain independence. My psychology classes say so and my personal experiences back it up. My sister and I went everywhere with our parents and I strongly believe that we have a greater respect for and sense of the world as a result.

  130. Well, I am going to throw my two cents’ worth on the other side of the issue. I have a son and I have been through the happy kid noise scenario…and through the demon spawn scenario.
    Now I am sliding down the opposite side of the hill with a Mom who has Alzheimer’s, and a recently deceased father-in-law with a hearing problem, and a husband who is probably developing one.
    If you or those accompanying you are disturbing and/or noticably, repeatedly distracting those in your vicinity by talking, noises, etc. (breastfeeding/bottlefeeding and snacking (without crinkly paper)excepted) and you cannot cease such activities, you should probably move.
    I think it is wonderful to expose children to a wide range of activities and events. At the same time, it is not fair to inhibit the other people present from enjoying the event. People with hearing loss or who are developing dementia struggle to separate background noise from what they are trying to comprehend.
    Both sides need to give a little, and use basic manners so that everyone can fully enjoy the activity.

  131. At the New York event last year I chased my 2 year old around and around and around as he ran through the auditorium. He had been in a stroller all day and was burning off some nerves. He loved the long sloping floor. Luckily most people find him to bea charming little devil.
    However, when it was time for the talk, I moved him to the back of the room. And when he cried I took him to the lobby. And when I realized his little body and brain could not stand the exhaustion we left. Easy enough. I missed some of the talk but was lucky enough to catch it again in Madison CT, kidless that time AND I got my book signed.
    Thank you for your post and your love of babies!

  132. Absolutely! You’re so right. I remember being told that my Mum had a set to with the Bishop when he asked her to take my sister out of a church service because he felt she was disrupting it. And I think it’s societies insistence that adults and children be divorced like this that makes many women feel that they can’t carry on with their normal lives once they’ve had children. What’s wrong with taking kids most places? How else are they going to learn? I get the impression that they have a more relaxed attitude about this on the continent, and I think that’s right. Let’s hope that these attitudes gradually change and children become properly valued as fellow human beings. Personally, I think the Victorians have a lot to answer for!

  133. Seems to me to boil down to “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing”. Which I heartily endorse as long as I can bitch about it in private later to the ever understanding DH.

  134. I’d like to pipe up, that even though we are considered a ‘middle class’ income bracket it isn’t easy getting out either! The money for a babysitter, if you can even leave the little monsters at home, isn’t always there.
    I’m chewing on a stick at the moment. My eldest child exhibits Aspergers like symptoms with very little impulse control (yes I’m the woman hollering at him to STOP! whatever needs to be stopped). My other two are rather demanding. If my idea of a night out clashes with husbands schedule. Nine times out of ten. I don’t get to go.
    Then again. The Yarn Harlot hasn’t made it to Manitoba yet…. has she?

  135. Thank you so much for writing this. I hope the people who need to listen and take heart. As the mother of four young children (6, almost 4, and 2 month old twins) I work very hard to balance their needs to be with me and my needs to be more than just their mother, which includes being out and about with them, especially as both of my sons are/were barnacle babies. πŸ™‚

  136. Thank you, I too, had a clingon and with 4 kids, we have yet to hire a baby sitter, mind you we range from 22, 15, 11 & 3 and if we go generally the kids go. I love my kids, that’s why we had them. BRAVO recognizing that kids are people too!!

  137. Thank you so much. As a mother of four, I can tell you that my little girls are easily entertained and very happy. My little boys, on the other hand, have done demon spawn impressions that have fooled demons into believing I took the wrong child home. I am the mother who runs her kid to the back of the room and outside–always blushing, sometimes crying, because it is embarrassing and I am always riddled with guilt for siccing my obnoxious small person on the world. Thank you for loving those babies too, for forgiving those mothers too, and for understanding that little people are little people, and that only demons consign them to the netherworld without the benefit of the doubt.
    (And I have probably flashed my rack to 1/2 of NOrthern California–by the fourth one I didn’t care, but I do wish I’d read something like this during the first baby–he could nurse forEVER.)

  138. Love and tolerence, eh? Not a bad way to approach the human race in general….
    An uplifting sentiment today. Thanks for that!

  139. I really appreciate this, on behalf of velcro kids like me and women everywhere. I think that (while you said we weren’t going there) that this really starts to get to the heart of how our society likes to segregate different parts of our lives. I remember one late night sitting down with a good friend of mine and discussing how we really didn’t know how to go to school, become successful in our work, but also raise children the way that we felt was appropriate. I have no idea what the answer is, but thanks for bringing up the point, in any little way, that incorporating them into our lives is a great first step.

  140. Cheers to you for trying to keep things as child/baby friendly as possible. As a mom of 3 (and yes, one of mine was a Klingon too, plus all 3 were breast-fed) I appreciate this. None of mine are small anymore, but when they were I went to great effort to train them how to behave in public. And when it was just an off day for them, I always tried to be courteous to those around me. MANY times I had people make rude comments to me before my children had even done ANYTHING, in fact as soon as they’d see me coming with 3 boys. It can be very discouraging.

  141. Thanks for posting this. I’m a mom of two small boys, ages two and five. I sympathize with moms of crying babies, because I’ve been there, and still am frequently! The only problem I have with crying babies, is that after nursing two boys for over two years apiece, the sound of crying makes my boobs hurt! LOL!

  142. Amen! Extremely well said! Thanks for being a great spokesperson for moms every where.
    I was a member of a quilting group when my daugher was born & I asked if I could bring her to the meetings while she was 6 months and under and still breastfeeding exclusively. I was shocked and bitterly angry that they felt it would be “too disruptive” and if they allowed babies, other people would to bring their children for other reasons. Babies, especially at the breastfeeding age need to be with their mom. 99.9% of people with a fussy kid or baby will leave if needed without any proding.

  143. I agree to an extent. I do get annoyed when people get snippy with a mom with a crying baby on an airplane. I mean come on. What is she supposed to do? I want to sleep also but I’m not going to smother a baby to do it.
    But I do think that too many people are blind to their children being disruptive and distracting. I paid to get into the movie to listen to it, not the children. However, to me, it is the adult’s fault, not the child’s. I would think that people should use these things to teach their children how to behave.
    My sister had a sweet stray cat in her neighborhood. She had people come to visit and she found the children being cruel to the cat. She stopped them and mentioned it to their parents, who had done nothing to stop it. When she mentioned it, the excuse was their age, they didn’t know better. Well, baby, it’s time to learn better and it’s the parent’s responbility to do it.

  144. People can be really bizarre. I can recall going to the zoo on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, when my now 16 year old was about 18 months. We were in an area surrounded by the primates (you know they are quiet!) My daughter was excited by the sights and sounds, and was happy toddler noisy (outside at the zoo, on a weekend afternoon.) I recall an older (70’s or 80’s) lady GLARING at her, because she was noisy. She was obvious enough that my daughter shied away from looking toward the lady. (To this day, I do not know what the woman was expecting to find at the zoo, if not happy kids and families.)
    The other thing I always try to remind myself, there is joy when everyone walks through the door, some upon entry, some upon leaving.

  145. Amen sister! Mine are 9, 5, 4, and 2, and while I defend your right to allow pleasant children to attend, I am jubilant that circumstances will allow me to see you in Madison without them. They are not cooperative in public. Yet. (The five year old did make you a lovely card, though. Sometimes their better selves peek out.)
    Nom nom nom….yummy sticks!

  146. Thank you for allowing the wee ones at events. I know my wee-est one (who was 7) enjoyed attending one of your book tour events last year, where you signed her spindle as a peer and not as a patronizing adult.
    On the other hand, damn you, because now she uses you as the primary reason why she should be entitled to all the silk top in my stash that I’m not currently using. “Stephanie Per-mcfee signed *my* spindle. She just signed *your* book. Give it to me.”

  147. I know this isn’t practical everywhere, but I really like places that provide “crying rooms”. Sometimes all it seems to take for an upset baby to quiet down is a little time away from all these strange folks before rejoining the festivities!

  148. Amen!
    I breastfed my child in restaurants, church, other people’s homes – wherever and whenever she was hungry. But never in restrooms – they are not for eating.
    If my kid got/gets too rowdy, I take her outside. People at our parish have complimented us on how well she has behaved – even when I think she’s a bit too active/loud.
    If ANYONE EVER were to mouth off on my kid, I’d sure as anything mouth right back on them.
    My child is a PERSON and is entitled to the same consideration as an adult. And is also entitled to go anywhere that an adult can go (okay, not to R rated movies, obviously) without some whiner complaining of her presence.
    Very happy that wee ones are always welcome at the Harlot’s place.

  149. What you said. All of it.
    As someone who attended your Saint Paul event (you have a picture of my daughter Veronica) and spent about a quarter of your talk in the back dancing with her because I was very stressed that she was fussy and might bother other people, your understanding is appreciated. I would, of course, have left if she had started to make an actual fuss, but everyone there was so nice about offering to help me out since I was there by myself with a baby. I even had a couple of people offer to take some pictures of you with my camera for me!

  150. Hear, hear!
    I think, sadly, many people don’t realize that children don’t come with remote controls – we parents can’t just turn them to “Mute” when they get noisy. (Probably for the best – I imagine if we did most of us would not be able to resist abusing the privilege… grin!)
    I remember once, taking my 3-year-old twins to the grocery store. They’d done rather well for the whole trip, considering they didn’t much want to be there but we had /literally/ no food in the house, so I didn’t have any room for, “Okay, fine, I’ll get three things and deal with the rest of it tomorrow.” But then we got to the check-out lane, and it was busy, and after a few minutes of waiting they started to protest.
    It’s almost a year later, and I am STILL deeply grateful to the woman behind me in line, who kept my unhappier boy entertained while I unloaded our cart onto the conveyor. It was a simple thing – he kept taking a lip balm off the display, she would chat at him about it for a minute and show him how it put it back, and he would take it down again – but it made a really hard day bearable. If I met her again, I’d get her info so I could knit her a nice hat or perhaps some nice mittens.

  151. How about when you’ve paid to go to an event, maybe made a long journey to get there, it’s a not-to-be-repeated event you’ve looked forward to for ages yet when seated you find yourself unable to hear or concentration due to noisy audience members ? This could be a baby crying, audience members talking to one another, someone’s iPod turned up too loud, etc. Politely asking the person/people responsible to be a little quieter seems reasonable to me, it is after all not a coffee shop or a park moment. Respect and being gracious to others should work both ways, shouldn’t it ?

  152. The sad part of this is that this topic is coming up on many of my internet conversations. Moms who are tired of evil looks but also folks reduced to evil looks because of children completely disturbing events. Yes, children (babies in particular) really can’t control many of the noises they make. In most places, for most people – those noises are ok. But there are some moments and places – wedding ceremonies, the deep parts of a religious service, anniversary level restaurants – where the audio of the experience is important. I don’t want to be distracted by anyone who could avoid it, be it a baby babbling, a cell phone ringing, an old guy farting. There is a point where it’s just rude

  153. I agree.
    It’s tough when you REALLY want to do something and your child REALLY doesn’t. My husband and I have been guilty on occasion of taking an uncooperative child or two out to dinner before (because the parents of the young need to see that society has continued).
    As for other’s children, all I ask is that you try. But I know as well as anyone, that trying doesn’t always work.

  154. Thanks so much. Wonderfully said. All parents (with rare exception)are acutely aware of how their kids are acting, and are doing the very best they can to make sure the kids are being well behaved.

  155. Good for you! If you were ever in my area, I would bring my daughter with me, not just because it’s easier, but because it’s another way to expose her to all that is wonderful about knitting and the world of knitters.
    Well said Stephanie!

  156. Welcome home, Steph. Hope you can pretend you aren’t leaving in 24 hours! Love your essay on baby/mom rights.
    Travel safe, somehow get enough rest, and keep that sock monkey away from your stash. I’m pretty sure he won’t be able to stop at one sock.

  157. Doesn’t it boil down to tolerance and respect? Tolerate (and enjoy, if you’re wired that way) the little ones, who will inevitably behave and sound like little ones. Respect your neighbors who have come to see and hear; if they can’t because of what your child is doing, move away.
    You might wish you weren’t sitting next to a chatty two-year-old; you might wish you weren’t sitting next to someone who can’t hear the speaker over your child’s remarks–but you are. Civility isn’t always easy; usually it means someone has to give something up. Will it be you or your neighbor?

  158. I think that most of the people who fuss about noisy children never had one of their own. I did. Said child is now 21 but I remember the colic, allergies, tantrums, meltdowns, etc. very well. When I hear a child losing it in public I try to say to the parent, “Been there. Done that. I understand.” As for happy baby noise, pure music to my ears.
    I also have been a primary teacher for almost 30 years and tried my best to make sure that my class was prepared for public outings by letting them know what the agenda would be and making my expectations of their behavior known ahead of time. 99% of the time I was proud of their behavior. Still, there were people who should have known better and still complained. I remember taking my class to swimming lessons at the Y and having the receptionist freak out at the kids every time they entered the building. The kids were not misbehaving; they were just talking. When the receptionist complained to me that the noise would disturb the adults who were there to work out or whatever, I countered by telling her that they are kids and kids talk. Once we left the building, I usually had to reassure the kids who she yelled at by letting them know that they were not in the wrong and the woman didn’t understand kids. Some of those kids got really upset and it burned me that one adult had that much power to hurt their feelings over actions that are completely acceptable coming from adults.
    All that said, however, I have witnessed a perfectly well-behaved student turn into an obnoxious brat as soon as a parent was in sight. Some parents really don’t get that they are tolerating outrageous behavior from their children and, in fact, are encouraging it by thinking it’s cute and precocious. These parents are in the minority, thankfully, but I see more of it recently than I did at the start of my teaching career (the whys and wherefores of this statement are also a discussion for another time.)

  159. Amen sista!
    ‘nuf said. See you in Chicago. Can’t wait to see the babies – don’t really want another one for myself (I like sleeping at night) but love looking at other people’s little ones.

  160. Bravo! I wholeheartedly agree πŸ™‚ I would have brought my children with me to Portland, but they would have put me to shame… by behaving better than I did *blush*
    Try to get some rest, you are an amazing woman, I don’t know how you do it all!

  161. PS. I forgot to add, we used to call our 6 year old the “Klingon Commander” πŸ™‚ *Waves the geek flag proudly*
    Now he refuses a hug before we drop him off at Kindergarten. Sigh.

  162. As the mother of a four year old, a two year old, and of a gestating baby, your piece made me cry a little bit. It’s so hard to feel that even your well-behaved child is unwelcome in some events. Your express acceptance makes in so much easier to be in the world with children.
    Of course, it may just be pregnancy hormones, too. I’ve been tearing up quite a bit lately. πŸ™‚

  163. We take steps constantly to teach our son what is appropriate behavior… but alas… occasionally he still act up in public. The dirty, judgmental and rude looks are always there. Like we obviously just let him run wild and teach him NO discipline. Sometimes kids are just kids. Sometimes at the worst possible moment they decide to be childish.
    Also? Sometimes parents don’t know it all. We can’t wave a magic wand and make our kids behave.

  164. As the mother of three klingons who all breast fed until they could tie their own shoes, let me say that in hindsight, one of my BIGGEST mistakes was in not accepting that life has it’s seasons. I should have reveled in the season of babies and accepted the fact that bringing children into my life also changed the entire fabric and focus of my life. I tried to continue on as if nothing had happened. I’m sure that I was inordinately rude on many occasions by hauling my klingons to events where their presence was neither uplifting nor appreciated by others.
    In other words, someone should have really taken me aside and said, “Dearest, you are making an ass out of yourself. Go home. This is an adult event.”
    Once my children got old enough to take responsibility for their own behavior, and our presence was either appreciated or benign, I suddenly realized… and was deeply ashamed…
    I am a to-the-bone proponent of attachment parenting, but it means that mama (and daddy) needs to make some sacrifices and stay away from *some* events. I wouldn’t make many changes in my past, but this is one area where I wish I could have a do-over. Babies grow up very fast.

  165. To quote Horton- (who heard a who)…and likewise his genius creator and one of my favorite cultural commentators- Dr Seuss-
    “A person’s a person, no matter how small”
    well said.

  166. That is a tough one. I plan on bringing my 8 y.o. to the Maker Faire so I can see you again. But I’m not an idiot: I’ll be bringing his favorite book, his Game Boy, and earplugs.
    And still, I may have to leave early. (But I would love for you to see his knitting!)

  167. Amen.
    I’ve always thought this, but having just had my first child 9 weeks ago, I agree with you doubly, both because children need to see the world, and moms need to get out of the house. Perhaps if society were more supportive of mothers and their children, children would more easily learn how to properly behave.

  168. I love the way you addressed this!
    I, for one, find it much harder to deal with adults who talk through readings/in movies/ use their cell phones IN LIBRARIES, than children who are being children.
    As for the “I love the elderly” comment. I must say that in over five years of working with the elderly, and having met/worked with hundreds of individuals over this time, I have only ever met one elderly person that I just did not like. So, I feel pretty confident is saying that I love the elderly! πŸ™‚

  169. Thank you for your comments about the little ones. I am one of those moms who wouldn’t be able to leave the house if I couldn’t take my toddler with me. For the most part, people are understanding of his noise and high energy, but every once in a while the dirty looks definitely come our way. Ah well.
    I wish I could have come to see you in Seattle, but said toddler would not have stood for the trip in the car. Maybe next time!

  170. Hmm…I’m going to go out on a limb and post from the other side of the fence. First of all, I agree with Diane (the poster above me) about the expectation of enjoyment and the sense of entitlement to that enjoyment if one has traveled far, made special plans and/or sacrifices to be at an event and then been disturbed by the behavior of others. I do think that politely asking for quiet (the key word being politely) is perfectly reasonable. I am childfree by choice, and my tolerance threshold for babies and small children is generally very low. My beef is always with the parents, not the youngsters – I’m afraid that I find many more parents to be oblivious and thoughtless about the effect that their children’s antics have on others than the opposite. The difficulty arises when you have competing interests, and both sides should be able to recognize when it’s appropriate for them to be the ones to react. For example, the parents of noisy kids in a movie theater should instruct their kids to be quiet or take them out, the person who went for a quiet read in the park and sat near the playground should move to another bench and not expect quiet from children at play.
    All of that being said, the only time I have a problem with real babies is when they scream their heads off. Most mothers react very quickly when that happens in a public gathering place. And even then, I understand that sometimes (as in the times I’ve been trapped on a long-distance bus with an unhappy baby) there is nothing that can be done in spite of all of a mom’s efforts. Then I just feel sorry for the mother and the uncomfortable wee one. All happy baby noises are just fine.

  171. BRAVO!!
    Well said, and excellent points. I’m one of those moms staying at home because it’s what’s best for our family, though it means my career (such as it is) is at a standstill for the moment and whenever I have the opportunity to get out of the house, I take it. I even count going to the park (which is where my 2yo son wants to be every possible minute, so I’m actually considering that suggestion of yours of “stick-chewing” as a hobby).
    I’ll be at your Madison signing next week with my 4mo daughter, who is generally a happy, chubby baby, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that all of her noises will be happy and welcome and tolerated. (Don’t worry. The 2yo is staying at home. He and evening activities don’t mix very well.)

  172. I nominated Ms. Stephanie “Kindness and Good Sense Know No Bounds” Pearl-McPhee as Canadian Ambassador to the World.

  173. The fact that you actually had to write about this saddens me. How on earth can babies be inapproriate for one of your gigs, especially when you’re forever posting gorgeous photos of gorgeous tiny people?
    I’m a mom of 3, the youngest of whom has special needs. I’m training to be a teaching assistant because I’d much rather work with children than adults. As many other commenters have said, I often find adults more annoying than children, and certainly than babies. The way I see it, children are still pliable and can change some of their ways, while with adults what you see is what you get. πŸ™‚
    Children should be welcome anywhere; as others have pointed out, how else are they going to learn how to behave in public places? There are, sadly, a handful of parents who let their kids run riot and exercise no control over their children, thereby letting their offspring spoil the pleasure of others. It irritates me that it’s these types of parents that give the rest of us a bad name. My youngest child has Autistic Spectrum Disorder, so isn’t exactly Mr. Socially Aware, but still I have been complimented on the good behaviour of all my kids. Even when I’m having some adult time by myself I love seeing babies and happy, behaved children. It makes my day, and makes up for all the grumpy adults I’ll undoubtedly see!

  174. Ahh, Stephanie – Your post was dead on. My girls are now older, but both younger ones, 12 and 7, have had to attend knitting class with me in the last two weeks. (One at a time, not both. Even I know the limits of sisterly behavior. ) On both occasions, they sat with me at the table, browsed the shop, and set me back a small fortune at the conclusion of the day. Note: good way to add to stash – blame it on the offspring. I had compliments on their behavior from my fellow classmates, and the staff at the store. Why? This is learned behavior! You cannot expect children to learn how to behave in public if they are not allowed out of the house! Far more often, “adult” behvior is more astonishing and embarassing. I wish I was close enough to attend an event. I’d bring my girls, and they would be over the moon to sit and entertain your youngest attendees!

  175. OMG! I didn’t bring my (then) 16-month-old to your event in Spring/Houston, TX because I didn’t have a sitter. UG! I sadly assume that people don’t want kids around, and mine is pretty well behaved but noisy (he takes after his mama). I’ll never miss you again for this! I’ll bring him (maybe knitting?) along and pray for the best.
    Amen, sista! I’m a working mom who doesn’t take an additional second away from my DS lightly. But, so many places and people are not hip to this. It’s a shame. Thanks for being so, um progressive? πŸ™‚

  176. ” . . . the unbridled stupidity, wilfulness, stamina and energy of teenagers . . . ”
    I love this statement, Stephanie.
    It’s especially fun to watch them turn out well in spite of it.

  177. Yeah. Well. That kind of attitude was the end of me going to knitting social events in Seattle, when it was made clear to me my very sweet, very non-disruptive son was not welcome. I’m a single mom, I work a lot, I have no family around, and it’s hard to not be really isolated. Whatever, I guess. But it makes life harder.

  178. It’s funny how opinionated people are about children, their place, how they should be raised, how they should behave, how their parents should function in society, etc. I’m guilty of it too, I know – but I do my judging quietly as introspection, thankyouverymuch. I’m very concerned about my ability to tolerate the input of others, and I think my hermit-y tendencies will serve me well as a future parent – when my child wants to leave the house, my husband can handle that, and I can avoid all public contact with my child in tow until they’re 27. πŸ™‚
    Children ARE people, I agree. When working in restaurants, the treatment of children was always baffling to me, especially how they’re frequently referred to – by staff and parents themselves – as incomplete humans. I don’t know who decided it was cute to refer to a party of two parents and one child as “two and a half” (though apparently it’s bled over to television as well – thanks Charlie Sheen.) I was secretly filled with utter glee once when a family walked in and my hostess inquired “two and a half?” and the mother arched a brow and said, “Three, actually. He’s a person too.”

  179. I think it is sad that this had to be addressed. I am childless, not by choice but because nature made it impossible. I think children are great and deserve to be able to go out with their parents. It teaches them how to behave and act in public. Happy noises are great and I agree that most parents get up and leave when the child is unhappy.
    I grew up going everywhere with my parents and learned at a very age, it wasn’t good if mom or dad had to take us out of the room for acting up. I took my nephews to all sorts of stuff and they also learned early on to behave in public.
    I say bring the babies on.

  180. Thanks for speaking up, ma’am. After solo toddler-wrangling in the airport yesterday for a 5-hour flight delay and then solo toddler-wrangling for a 5-hour flight, I’m grateful for your public support of my right to occasionally bring my child out of the house. Thumper was a real trooper, but not everyone we encountered yesterday acknowledged his right to air travel.

  181. Well put! Thanks! I’ve brought my second daughter to two of your signings and my older one to none. Granted the first time I took the little one, she was in-utero and a little hard to leave at home, she was perfectly content in her mei tai the second time and caused no problems. She’s the kind of child that I have to take everywhere. The older one is the kind I can’t take anywhere. Lots of babbling to say thanks from a mom with a velcro-baby.

  182. I have no children. I never wanted children, yet, the idea of children being quiet and demanding them to be quiet horrifies me. They are grown-ups in training and if we treat them like they are an inconvenience, what does that say about us? Besides, I don’t know about you, but I started out as one.

  183. I have to say that I am one of those people who don’t care for children. I long ago decided I wouldn’t be having any (like when I was 16). That said, it drives me crazy that our society looks at breastfeeding mothers like they are deranged and I’m absolutely fine with children being at appropriate public events. Screaming children should be removed whenever possible (I once endured a 7 hour flight to Prague with a baby who screamed the entire time), but content, gurgling, quietly chattering children certainly shouldn’t be banished from public! You always find the balancing point–ever consider being a diplomat? πŸ˜‰

  184. Thank you. As a SAHM to 2 little ones, I don’t really have time to say much besides thank you. Really.

  185. Rachel T. already mentioned the cell phones, which are much more disruptive, in my mind. In Denver, I sat within a cluster of babies and they were either fine or were walked around by some of their adult companions. I spent many years walking my daughter around (or breastfeeding her, which tended to keep her quiet).
    Several of my friends have Tourette’s. Most of them are adults and have either grown out of the most disruptive twitches and vocalizations or have learned to gently manage them. I’ve watched one young friend grow up with this challenge and some folks aren’t too tolerant of his twitches, I’m sad to say. The good part is that there’s a cluster of families that goes places together, including him, and when he’s in a bigger group that takes his quirks in stride, bystanders are far less apt to comment. Plus he’s got built-in community support for being okay.
    That’s part of what I think one aspect of knitting is about, at its best: built-in community support for being okay.

  186. There is no way a child can be expected to behave in public if they are never taken there and get a chance to learn.
    That said — I am childless — but am planning on bringing my 51 year old sister. She breathes really loud sometimes. I’ll speak to her about it on the way to B&N on Tuesday night!! πŸ™‚

  187. As the mother of a profoundly autistic impaired child (now an adult) I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this open and honest discussion. There are so many places I’ve wanted to go but obviously couldn’t because she can be disruptive. I’ve tried and failed many times-mostly, I would hightail it out of a place because of looks (glares) people gave us and words people said to me (“can’t you control your child?” Obviously not.) Like my life (and hers) isn’t hard enough already without society shunning us. For the record, my local yarn stores owners love her and talk to her like she is actually a person with feelings (she is.) Thank you again for trying to talk sense into people who cannot see their words and actions hurt others. Instead of criticism, how about saying “I see you are having a rough time, can I be of help to you?” It takes a village people. It really does.
    Ruth

  188. Thank you! As a mother (with a husband) who takes our girl everywhere and get ‘those looks’ even before she’s squeaked, I say bravo and encore. Good grief, how else is she supposed to learn to behave in public? And yes, when she melts down (and don’t we all?), we remove her. But otherwise? We’ll have a lovely chat about who knows what and it may be a little louder than a whisper.

  189. I am so glad that you brought up this up.
    Our world can be a much better place if we offer help and a smile, instead of condemnation to our fellow human beings.
    Thanks so much for the reminder.

  190. I hear you!!
    If we don’t take babies or children out into “public” and teach them how to act like humans, how can we expect them to behave like humans when they HAVE to go out into public as they get older?
    I mean really, if I had never been in a restaurant, bookstore, library, pool, etc until I was 15, when I finally went, would I really know not to scream in a library, run around a pool, etc?
    (Of course this is not to say that I expect all babies/children to behave with perfect adult-like manners in public. You know what I mean πŸ™‚ )

  191. Sorry — couldn’t possibly read the two hundred comments, but I feel the need to comment.
    First — Thank You! Thanks for recognizing that most of us are trying, and that babies, lots of times, need their moms. (It’s easy to forget. My daughter’s only three, and I already had to be reminded by a nursing friend that bringing the baby, instead of leaving her home with dad, meant we didn’t have to watch the clock or worry.)
    IA little story. I brought my one year old (squawking, fidgety, drooling) daughter to a Catholic wedding. Some people really know how to welcome the wee ones. Signs prohibiting food specifically excluded snacks meant to keep toddlers quiet, and I think the priest deliberately paused after that stuff about marriage being for parenthood, just so folks could appreciate the babbling going on by a few of us.

  192. Re those “happy and unhappy adults who can’t zip it either,” oh dear, I think you have my number!
    Well said, dear, and really . . . kids are human too, and ain’t none of us perfect. Let’s be nice to one another.

  193. Well said, Stephanie.
    As a social worker and mother of two, its a pleasure to hear someone speak up on children’s behalf. Our society loves to say that children come first, but that is so rarely true.
    Mostly they come first as long as it isn’t inconvienient to an adult, or won’t cost governmen (rural, urban, provincial, federal, etc.)to much.
    Well done.

  194. I so agree! I take my 2 year old everywhere with me because a) I adore her and want to spend every free moment with her; b) she adores me and wants to spend every free moment with me; c) I work 40 hours per week so we are only together on weekends, mornings and evenings; and d) if anybody doesn’t get it, I feel sad that they don’t understand what it’s like to adore and be adored by a 2 year old!

  195. Happy baby/child noises? Some of the most heart warming sounds on earth. Even young children playing (relatively) quietly amonst themselves in public falls into the same category.
    I do tend to agree with many of the other commenters who already said how are children going to learn to behave in public if they are never taken in public.

  196. i agree with you on the presence of children everywhere. we take our son everywhere with us ever since he was a baby. don’t like it? deal. remember the episode of SATC where samantha complained about the little kid in the restaurant and when she told the mother off, the kid threw pesto pasta in her face? classic.
    however, there will be one place where no kid shall pass. my S&B. it’s the only two hours of my week where i don’t hear my kid yell “MAAAAAA!!!!” every two seconds. just kidding.

  197. Thanks for you commentary. I got to hold a beautiful one-month-old infant at Knit Night yesterday, and it made my week. I am not a mom, but look forward to being one, so I’m sure I’ll be able to relate to your comments much more in the future. Also? Have fun in Seattle. It’s my hometown, and I’m bummed I can’t be around to welcome you!

  198. I had the opportunity to attend a traveling exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls about a year ago while it was in my area. I called and asked if children could come to event, and was told they could. I told them my daughter was two, and they said bring her. I brought her and then was asked to take her out so she could settle down. She was talking, but not being overly loud in my opinion. I was devestated. I felt that I was being attacked as a bad mother that could not control her child. My husband took her out and could not enjoy the event that we paid for. They would not refund our money either. I talked to the security asking if they could come back in and enjoy at least some of the event. The security reiterated that children were welcome. They brought my family back in so we could enjoy all together, but the damage was already done. It was all because one couple near us was intollerant. How are children supposed to learn to behave during events if they are not exposed to them?

  199. I normaly don’t comment but feel the need to today. I don’t know what happened at the events, but they are at public places, where the you know, public can go.
    I am childless by choice, but I don’t have any objections to children being out and about and making happy kid noises. What I do object to is the todler who is screaming his head off in a store for an extended period of time that “mom” or “dad” ignores.
    I don’t have any problems with women breast feeding in public, but would appreciate a “do you mind?” I find it a little disconcerting when a woman just undresses to breast feed with nary a word. (Have seen this in a YLS before).
    And I too find the cell phone or a “crack”berry often more anoying than children!

  200. At the risk of possibly being crucified by fellow commenters, I’ll post a somewhat dissenting opinion.
    I have no problem with happy baby noises either, and certainly see no reason not to bring happy babies and children to knitting events!
    But I also see nothing wrong with someone (preferably management) politely intervening when someone with a screaming UNHAPPY baby or toddler decides to just let the baby scream instead of leaving. (For events when leaving is practical, of course. Obviously this doesn’t apply to doctor’s waiting rooms, airplanes, etc.)
    I don’t see the problem with that, in a situation where it would be appropriate to ask an adult who was being similarly disruptive (due to alcohol consumption, cell phones, or whatever) to leave.
    I agree that children aren’t less important than adults. But I don’t think they’re MORE important than adults, either, and that means that if they’re preventing all the people around them from hearing the movie, concert, etc… they should be asked to leave, just as an adult should be.
    Also note that people objecting to children tearing around underfoot at events aren’t necessarily child-haters. It’s really better for everyone if a waiter carrying a tray of really hot food DOESN’T trip over your child!

  201. I will be traveling 5 hours round trip to attend your event on Sunday in Northampton, MA. This will be by far the longest I have been away from my four-month old son. I have debated bringing him to the event since I could tell from your blog photos that he would be welcome and he is a very good baby, but my husband has convinced me this is a good chance for them to spend a whole day together. Their only consistent time alone is Tuesday’s “boys’ night in” for two hours while I go to my knitting group. I am sure I will enjoy seeing you, but if I leave crying, now you’ll know why.

  202. Parenting often comes down to common sense. We brought our daughter out everywhere with us since infancy, with the result that now we have a very bringable, well-behaved 8 year old whose company we enjoy. We did not attempt to go out for dinner, or wherever, when she was tired, hungry, or under the weather. We always made sure we had adequate food, drinks, and things to keep her entertained, and now she takes care of those things! She knits, too, and I will probably bring her along to meet you next month.
    People who chitchat through movies and plays, and who yak on their cell phones at top volume, are more annoying than most children any day!

  203. Hi, My name is Amy and I hate baby noise. Yes, I think I’m the only one here that feels this way. No, I would never say something to a parent of a noisy child. I always prefer to remove myself from the situation. That does sometimes mean cutting my meal short because the parents think a child “finding his voice” in a restaurant is cute. I don’t have children, I don’t find the high pitched screeches of children cute and in fact, that type of noise makes me want to rip my ovaries right out.
    I’m from a very quiet family. I didn’t realize that until I grew up and started hanging out at other houses. We don’t yell from room to room, in fact my parents don’t raise their voices in anger – they get quieter.
    I don’t mean to start a debate either. I actually find quiet burbling babies quite charming. I do realize children often go through a shrieking stage, but I don’t like being subjected to it.
    Feel free to make mean comments about how horrible I am. Whatever.

  204. I think the main issues are two-fold: First, there are just people out there who believe that whatever they choose to do, it’s all about them. “I’m going to see the Yarn Harlot, therefore everyone there must simply get out of my way so I can enjoy it or, better, serve me in some way to enhance my experience.” Secondly, and most important in my book, no one addresses these whiners directly!
    I mean really, how often does someone make a remark that is rude, unfair, or inappropriate, and we just look away embarrassed? Yes, of course there are glory-moms who believe that their kids deserve to be worshiped even as they smash the vase from the shelf. But for the most part parents are conscientious about their children’s behavior and affect on others in a given situation. I know that I’m paranoid that my kids aren’t annoying others; I even clean up the floor of the restaurant if they have torn all the crayon wrappers into pieces and dropped them everywhere. The thing is that we need to say to these folks, “Actually I think that baby noises are wonderful. I’m sure if you can’t hear you could stand closer on the side up front.” Be nice, be kind, but be honest that the criticism of the presence of children/babies is unrealistic and frankly unkind. And please notice that I said ‘address’ these people, not ‘confront’ – picking a fight solves nothing.
    I agree with Katherine’s observation about the judges out there, there will always be some, sad to say. However I disagree that we’ve lost community. Our sense of community has changed – look at this community right here, on the Harlot’s blog! – but I don’t believe it is lost. I think we can choose to reconnect to our in-person community by being respectful to the whiners while we disagree with them and stand up for the rights of little ones who may not be able to stand up on their own (at all).

  205. I’m not yet a mum, so I think sometimes my fuse is shorter than it should be. Thanks for the reminder to be patient and cut the small people (and their parents) some slack.

  206. While I agree, and I really really do, I just – commenters, please realize that not all single people are anti-baby, that not all child-free by choice hate babies (I don’t hate babies, I just don’t want to be a mother), and that while a screaming baby is certainly no more disruptive than people crinkling candy wrappers, talking on the phone, etc. – they are no LESS so, either, especially if I can’t hear the event I came for.
    I’m not an ogre. I spent the day at the Field Museum last week surrounded by school kids on field trips. The din was incredible, but kids *belong* in museums. Kids belong in libraries, in movie theaters, almost every place adults go. Kids belong in church, but when the parents let the toddler run around the front of the church squealing with glee, and the echo is so loud that it drowns out everything but her voice, that’s just plain annoying. Sometimes disruptive is just disruptive, no matter the age. I’m no ogre, but I’m no saint, and yeah – I’m going to get irritated.
    I do NOT reserve any right to be a bitch about it, though, or to ask anyone to leave. I’ll just come home and rant about it to my cat.

  207. Quite Right, my dear Harlot. I’ll just add that it seems that food, sleep, fresh air, and a child’s own personal interest in the thing in front of her/him seems to make a great deal of difference in their temperament. Huh! I love seeing children in the knitting community, but if it is bed time, dinner time, or boring to them, they will let us know, as rightly they should. Truly, the only question I have when a child is crying, is Why? Something should be fixed. The younger the child, the faster (or of course in the case of injury). But a happy child is a blessing to behold. Maybe you’ll just need to speak up a little louder to drown out the giggles.

  208. I’d rather have a shrieking child than a) someone using their blackberry or b) someone who talks on their cellphone.
    The kid probably doesn’t have a choice about attending, but the adult with phone does.

  209. I completely agree with everything you said, but from someone who was at the faarrr back at the Portland event and was trying her darndest to hear an already quiet microphone over multiple active children directly behind me, it was a little irksome. I wasn’t one of the folks who said something, because I do agree with everything you said and would therefore never dare infringe on a woman’s choice of what to do with her children, but those who complained probably had a wee bit of a reason.

  210. I have been enjoying your blogging from your tour/sock camp! I totally agree with this post. If we don’t take our kids anywhere that isn’t covered in sand, mud, plastic, or pizza, how will they learn to behave properly in more “adult” places? How will we as mothers learn what works and what doesn’t with our kids unless given the chance to try things out?
    Have a great trip! Cheers!

  211. When my eldest was tiny I was a stay at home mom who brought her everywhere with me. As she was a happy smiley thing I hardly ever had a issue when bringing her out whether it was to a restaurant, the library, a store, whatever. I was sensible about when we were out (never at nap time for example) and was careful to pack for her (teething toast to munch on, toys to play with, ect…). When I misjudged her tolerance/tiredness level I would, of course, cut trips short and remove us from the situation so as to not upset her more and in consideration of others.
    One day we were at a family style restaurant and my sweet girl was happily munching away and jibber-jabbering to all and sundry. A woman sitting several seats away was sniffing indignantly and harumphing about “bringing a child that young out”. Another woman, on hearing this, walked straight up to the grumpy old cuss and asked for a favor. Focusing her attention at the young, meticulously dressed, very put together young professional with the expensive briefcase the old grump said, “Of course.”
    “May I have you’re mother’s phone number please? I need to inform her of your wretched manners when out in public.”, she replied.
    I about choked to death laughing.
    We were all small once.

  212. My “baby” is 41, so I’m past having to bring him and his sisters along and worrying about the chaos (most of the time – but that’s another story). It’s unfortunate that you even had to blog about this. It is easier for me to move away from the distraction than to ask a mom with a fussy child to leave. When did we forget to be nice, to offer help, or understanding? I’d be ashamed of myself if I appointed myself “the boss of you” or anyone else.

  213. There are some few formal events where children are not appropriate. But those are really few and far between. I love babies and almost all children. Those few children I meet that I do not love I generally feel sorry for, since it is almost always their parents’ fault, not their own. (And of course I take care not to let the kid know. Same with dogs; I don’t happen to like dogs, but that’s not the dog’s fault and there’s no reason to upset people or their dogs about it.)
    Even at relatively formal events, kids can be welcome if some reasonable provision is made. At our wedding, we got a room with a loft area and put some toys and paper and crayons up there, plus a little nap area, and it was great. We had about 180 guests, of which more than 40 were children, and over about 6 hours (total, ceremony and reception) we had exactly one discipline problem, which took exactly one sentence spoken by me to resolve. 5 seconds; it’s over and done with.
    Sometimes it’s the “grownups” that need to grow up.
    PhilB

  214. ps- (because I can’t shut up) We have a rare (in current culture)opportunity to connect women of multiple generations and circumstances during these times. We can connect with each other and with our love of craft.
    We can choose to develop a “tribe” through these shared experiences (including the bumps that gathering involves)and support and encourage each other, or we can become cannibals, devouring each over our differences.
    I vote we just say no to cannibalism.
    I’d rather eat chocolate, and knit and cuddle happy babies- or offer a smile and a nod of “been there- you’ll survive” to a mom with a fussy one…(personally don’t so much want to cuddle fussy ones.. I’ll leave that to their mom;)

  215. My older velcro baby hopes to be making a grandmother of me this December. I’ve already asked her to take the baby with her to the grocery store, because that is where she started learning to be polite in public and we had many good times. I am saving this post and the comments for her to read in a few months. Stephanie, you and most of your commenters are saying better than I could how important it is for babies and children to be treated as valued members of society, and for everyone to be tolerant and polite.

  216. YEAH! Thanks so much Stephanie for standing up for decency. When I read the post from one of the mothers, I was aghast. I just wanted to reach out and give her a hug. I felt so bad that someone barked at her that way. I am continuously touched by your ability to do the right thing, say the right thing and get the point across. I don’t often comment – but I just wanted to take a moment and applaud you for your act of kindness.

  217. Happy noises and happy children are great. Really, the problem is not the children, it is always the oblivious parent(s). When our daughter was small, and we were both working (still true) we took her everywhere we could when we could – actually we still do that, which results in her sometimes being bored, but a little boredom is good. You have to face up to the fact that while your child may be a (relative) angel 95% of the time, the other 5% requires you to act like an adult and get her/him out of there! Most of the time she was fine, but there were others… This sometimes resulted in:
    One of us marching around the parking lot with her on numerous occasions.
    One of us eating dinner while the other was in the car with screaming child, and then changing places when the first one finished eating. This happened while some distance from home on my rainy Valentine birthday, and the restaurant suggested they keep my food hot in the kitchen when they brought it to the table and found I was not there. Waitress got a nice tip.
    One of us missing part of various talks/shows/etc. because she was too disruptive and we wouldn’t continue to inflict her on the rest of the audience.
    I never did see the end of “Bug’s Life” at Disney World because our daughter (who was the one that wanted to see the show) started screaming over some of the special effects.
    Sometimes parenting is like that. Grow up and deal with it.
    Personal pet peeve – parents who are oblivious to the laws of physics and think that their kid in a backpack doesn’t actually occupy space, and are oblivious to the fact that said child’s feet, shod in those nasty little hard shoes (or even soft ones) are just at the right height to kick my kid in the head or face.

  218. Thank you so much for sharing. I really enjoyed seeing you in Portland. I brought a friend from Russia. She was not familiar with the phenom that you are and boy was she impressed. She really had a lot of fun. I am teaching her to knit socks πŸ™‚ Can’t see how you keep up that pace, get some rest

  219. I don’t have children and I’m 60 years old. I grew up when children were not the center of the universe. My parents believed in discipline and order and we weren’t allowed to run around restaurants, church services and other events, shouting and making noise. I have been taken out of my share of events because I wasn’t behaving. I certainly wasn’t beaten or even punished severely, but I did learn to have a healthy respect for quiet behavior in public. That said, I’m all for children being included in public events as long as they don’t spoil the event for everyone around them–no matter what their age.

  220. Excellent. I haven’t brought my daughter to your events because (last year) she was was 6 months old and I needed a night to myself and (this year) she was 1 1/2 years old and would have pulled all the books off the shelves at the bookstore! It never occurred to me that she’d be unwelcome, though – people who write her off because she’s 2.5 feet tall (less than a meter) are really missing out.
    The priest at our old church always called attention to the “joyful (and sometimes not-so-joyful) noise” during communion and made it clear that babies were welcome for all parts of the service. Our new church tolerates it, but I wouldn’t say it’s welcome. I prefer welcome.

  221. As a first-time mother of a nine month old, I truly appreciate all the wonderful comments you made about public events and children. I have to say, that the judgement I have felt on occasion, from people in the months since my child came along, was truly surprising to me. I never expected the looks my husband and I get on a regular basis, from the noise of our child just being a child. Sometimes, it is as if the whole world thinks they know how to do the parenting job better than you do and they tell you or show you with a look, constantly.
    I would also like to say, as a mother of a formerly colicky little one, had we both not left the house to venture out into the world on occasion, I dont think I would have survived.

  222. As a mom of two spirited, not so little kids, I appreciate your remarks! Having attended two of your events now, I love that you are a child-friendly speaker and author, Stephanie. Kids are kids, and so often these days there’s pressure to have them be mini adults.
    Cheers to you! Now get some sleep, dear.

  223. Continuing – both of us have missed out on parts of events when we were without spouse. No biggie.
    And, BTW, I look forward to the parade of little’uns when I finally get to attend one of your events!

  224. Good gracious, thank you! Every day over the past few months I get a little more demoralized by what seems to be a growing (or at least growing mor vocal) intolerance for others, children, babies, and parents included. I brought my son to your speech a couple of years ago — I did actually end up taking him to the hallway for about the last half. Did intolerant adults see/notice that? Well, no, probably not, because it wasn’t very noticeable I don’t know what else to say without going into a full-blown rant, but sometimes being called a “breeder” derisively and other such comments make me cry and the way some other adults treat me and other parents of young children makes our lives very miserable from time to time.
    I’m with you on the feminist comment — I do think this hits mothers by far the hardest, but it’s hit my husband, too, who was a SAHD for our son.
    I work full-time, and I’m a mom. If my son isn’t welcome, then what do I do? Leave him behind? When will I EVER have time to parent him?
    Done. Poorly worder, but the rant was contained, mostly.

  225. I too think it’s horrible that you even had to address this, especially since your time could have probably been better spent enjoying a few precious moments with your family or getting some much needed shut eye.
    That said, I appreciate that you did. I attended Portland and I myself was very lucky that I didn’t have to bring my own klingon at the last second because hubby was able to get some time off work. And because you are so very gracious and accommodating, I was able to get my book signed and still rush off home before my poor breasts exploded. Thank you!
    I was also in the back of the room, where I could hear a few of the kiddos in attendance running a muck in the lobby, but they weren’t disruptive and honestly I didn’t even bother to turn my head until I heard one fall. And even then, it was mommy instinct to make sure that the little one was OK, not annoyance. I think most moms do their very best and appreciate a little acceptance and tolerance.

  226. I brought my little ones everywhere in the 80s and you’re right on. I would not have been able to go anywhere if I hadn’t brought them along. I could have been oblivious since I was both sleep deprived and way too young to be raising babies, but there I was in my early 20s with my kids in a sling going everywhere. Many times, I needed and received reassurance keeping me from “chewing on sticks at the park”. Thanks for your reminder to show kindness for moms that may need a smile or a welcoming word.

  227. I see nothing has changed in 25 years. There is a book out that I have blessedly forgotten the name of but was horrified to hear one father recommend to another. It was all about getting children on YOUR schedule so you weren’t at THEIR mercy. OMG. As a LLL mom who breastfed (gasp) in public, I’ve long been offended by our society’s mad attempt to get children shooed off into a corner where no one ever sees them. Taking them with me everywhere, even leaving work to stay home with them were all seen as signs of weakness and lack of discipline on my part. Bah. You’ve gone and got me started again.

  228. Crying babies triggers the ‘distress mode’ in mommies of all ages, so our natural instinct is to satisfy baby to make baby quiet, and when we can’t do that sometimes it leads to frustration which shows up as anger.
    I just keep this in mind, infants/toddlers and young’uns are as unpredictable as the weather and, like a jack-in-the-box, it’s ALL music until something ugly jumps out.
    Two things: #1 – if it’s not your baby crying, offer to help the poor mother who is trying to raise a baby and have a life. Take the child from her for a minute (if she’ll let you) and offer your professional “I know how to make them stop crying” assistance, and
    #2 – if the baby is actually pulling your wig off and that’s why you’re upset, move your seat. The future of the world does not depend on whether or not you keep your seat.
    You can’t change the baby, but you can change your reaction.

  229. Maybe the folks commenting here can come to my area to teach the adults and children how to behave at events. I see an appalling lack of manners in many places. If the parents can’t behave in public, the children certainly won’t learn.

  230. Thank you. Being a Mom isn’t easy especially when you spend most of your time caring for people who are much smaller than you. Moms have the right to do little things to better themselves, whether that means knitting or listening to someone talk about knitting or just sitting quietly and getting to think about knitting.
    Let’s try to support each other and play nice.

  231. Great post – how will children ever learn how to behave in public if they’re never ALLOWED in public? On the whole I like wee people and am always glad to have them around, noisy or not.

  232. I thought I’d add: I also see nothing wrong with having certain events that are grown-up events to which children aren’t invited.
    Not many, of course. I think complaining when people bring kids to a family restaurant is silly, as is a no-children book signing (unless the subject matter of the book in question makes it inappropriate for children). Frankly don’t really get no-children weddings, either, since I think of weddings as intrinsically family events.
    But very formal dances or dinners, really fancy restaurants or concerts — I think making those no-small-children venues can be appropriate.
    One, it gives adults a chance to relax without distraction. A lot of the people I hear complaining about disruptive kids in very fancy restaurants are parents themselves, who hired a babysitter and went to a fancy restaurant specifically to enjoy some adult time WITHOUT lots of shouting kids.
    But also, I remember as a kid how exciting it was for me when I was deemed old enough to go to a “grown-up” event. πŸ™‚

  233. People have really strong feelings about children and child-rearing, don’t they? I am a mother and now grandmother. I am also a retired teacher. I am even one of those people who “love children” and the reason is that they are ingenuous almost without fail. They are still psychologically transparent. I have never taught a child I didn’t like and I often wish I could be so generous with adults. But I am not. I DO feel they are like another culture altogether and I DO group them like you do babies. As teachers we often said, “Children are not short adults.” They have characteristics that separate them from adults. They do not have the same rights as adults nor the same responsibilities. When they are ready for the former, they have to assume the latter. They have RIGHTS, mind you, but not the same rights.
    In some other cultures, I have noticed that children are “under control” more. French children routinely sit through long and late dinners without making a fuss. Japanese children seem quietly respectful. And that being said, I also have to say that their adult parents are more conscious of group space too. How amazing to be in Tokyo in the subway and have it be quieter than my former school library. Yes, I am generalizing and what I say is not true without exception.
    I’m told that in Israel, children are expected to answer loudly and aggressively in class and that it is very confusing to them in U.S. schools to have to raise a hand to speak. It is a louder culture. I imagine there babies are tolerated easily.
    I think we United Statesians (cannot speak for Canadians) have become looser with our boundaries than we once were, and all these cultures mixing takes its toll. When that happens those who are loosest expect more from those who are tighter. Culturally we have have a history of valuing individual rights more than some other cultures.
    When I was a young first time mother, my 13 mo old daughter pushed a chair around a room as a group of people were sitting silently waiting for a door to open to a classroom. She was creating a scraping noise. A young woman said to me, “You don’t mind the noise your child is making but the rest of us might and I certainly do.” It brought me up short and I thought then as I do now, that she was right.
    Maybe all this posting, these many comments are just about the way our culture is changing as it becomes a global village and one way gives way to another.

  234. Yes. And amen. Totally in agreement here.
    As a former velcro-baby (and former evil teenager as well), I can thank you on behalf of my mother; who wouldn’tve been able to go anywhere were it not for baby/kid-friendly-events and baby/kid-friendly-event organizing people.
    And yeah, bringing babies and little kids out in society is the ONLY WAY to teach them how to properly behave around other people.
    Thats why I learned to read so early; mum goes to wait in a bank, I got to read for half an hour. An excellent trade off, I felt; haha, when I was really little, I wondered why my mum didn’t bring a book or something for herself as well. πŸ˜›

  235. I’ve never posted before, but read your blog regularly and have always appreciated your avid support of motherhood. I have always been one to keep my babies with me and have breastfed and carried them in the sling practically everywhere I have gone. My firstborn was one of those I could not leave the house without, so if baby didn’t go, I didn’t go. Thank you for your kind words in speaking on behalf of us and our little ones. Having four children now, one just seven months, I only wish that more people felt the way you do. I also appreciate you standing up for those of us who do not feel ready to leave our little ones. Your support of motherhood in general is always encouraging to me. Thanks again!

  236. Thank you for this post. It is refreshing to read a defense of children and mother’s in the knitting community online rather than what sometimes feels like endless complaints about children.

  237. Dearest Harlot,
    My blessed wife (may she rest in peace) would have burst into tears of joy to hear you saying this. She was saying the same, without the pulpit you so well deserve, decades ago. If only it weren’t (mostly) the choir to whom you are able to preach.
    Muggles of the world, Hear the Harlot! Kids are people too.
    Joke about this topic: A cement worker was talking at lunch about how he loved children, on and on he went about the blessed little tykes. When he returned to work, he found little shoe prints and hand prints in the sidewalk he had just smoothed. He started cursing the “Sh*itty little brats!” His buddy laughed and reminded him how he said he loved children. He replied “I love children, just not in the concrete!”

  238. Hmmm… these sticks, they taste like… sticks.
    Thanks =)
    Stay at home mom of 3 (who were all breastfed forEVER) babysitter of 3 more and there seems to be a neighbor kid that lives here now too.

  239. Not.Bring.The kids??If I were to not bring my kids with me, I may never get to go anywhere!My son(almost 8)does need a volume control button,but 97% of the time, he and his sis(almost 10)are behaved and doing happy,silly kid things.Even on the way to work the other morning, they were going on about aliens and salami…
    I guess you had to be there…

  240. Just a thought….if being in a room with infants and children causes you concern, why not knit a few finger puppets to pass along to a mom who might be able to use some distraction for her child? Quick, easy, uses scrap yarn, and you can be part of the solution, not add to (or create) the problem.
    Nancie

  241. A little bit of tolerance and awareness of others goes a long way towards making society a nicer place to be. Yes, this is a two-way street. People are people. We make noises, we sometimes smell strange, etc. When we go into public places we can’t expect there to be a sterile little silent bubble everywhere we go. Likewise, if you or your child, is really and truly becoming a nuisance then maybe you need to pack it up. I have three rather “rambunctious” girls and there have been times where they’ve honestly just gotten tired or for some unknown reason acted like they were possessed. When this happened/happens we leave… at least temporarily. But I’d hope that rather than immediately judging my mothering skills or children that others would be somewhat tolerable and understanding. This being said, I saw several children at Portland. None of them were spewing pea-soup as their heads spun uncontrollably and I heard no tired or hungry crying, etc. Kudos to the parents who brought their little ones.
    Oh, and Stephanie, I hope you get lots of rest while at home. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing you speak!

  242. Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!
    How can my noisy (sorry, but they have medical issues) kids be expected to be future knitters if no one wants them exposed to it? Yes, my son has Tourette’s, yes, he does his darndest to be socially acceptable, but sometimes it’s just too much to hold in. Like last year at Rhinebeck when he rearranged your books into a ziggurat while we were discussing your cold and the beautiful Kauni cardi. You were terribly gracious and I will be forever thankful for you.

  243. Thank you Miz Harlot πŸ™‚ I’m a new-ish mom, but pushing 40 … finding this adjustment, the adjustment to the ever-present judgement of others as it relates to my child and my child-rearing practices, the hardest. OK I lie – the lack of sleep is the hardest! But Socially/culturally speaking, the judgement and lack of tolerance is the hardest. Thanks for standing up.

  244. Delurking finally, to comment. I’m still relatively young without children, but work with them all day long as a pediatrician. For sure I notice baby/kid noises, and occasionally they bother me – but it’s more the aspect of whether their needs are being taken care of or not. (Despite not having kids yet, I can “interpret” a cry pretty accurately now.)
    I used to have annoyed moments (’cause c’mon, we all have them), but I just remember the children who CAN’T scream, move, cry, babble or coo on their own that I’ve cared for over the years – for whatever reason. Healthy children making noise? Not even an issue any more.
    Hope to make it out to one of your events eventually! Get some much needed rest, and maybe a beer πŸ˜‰ ….

  245. I liked the one woman who commented that her 51 year old sister breathes loudly. Ha!
    Thanks, Steph! I guarantee that I am more bothered when my little barnacle is unruly than anyone around me.

  246. Thanks for speaking out in support of moms with little guys. I have gone with my daughter to help with the kids when her husband was singing in a one-time event. If we both wanted to hear him, we both had to go, and she has a Klingon, too. Although the kids are usually amazingly good, we have gotten some dirty looks. The world of opera is especially un-kid-friendly, unless they’re in the chorus.
    Little Grandklingon is doing a little better–recently, after half an hour of hard crying, Klingie and I were happily making cookies while mom went to an opening night to hear dad sing, and she looked up, startled, and said, “I calmed down!”

  247. Great discussion! And a great reminder to BOTH the child-free and child-rich sides of the equation to consider the unavoidable but very worthwhile complexities of raising small people!
    As someone without small people of my own, I know I have looked around in events that contain loud kids and been amazed that those who do have their own kids seem relatively impervious to the noise–a developed survival skill, I assume–while those of us without kids all seem to look over-sensitized and hyper-aware.
    So tolerance and compassion BOTH ways, please: recognizing that kids, even entirely happy kids, are not a silent proposition is crucial to supporting those who ARE raising the next generation, and an awareness that those who don’t have their own kids are probably more sensitive and distractible, and being willing to dialogue about how much is too much, is probably healthy too…

  248. It’s always the half of one percent who spoil things for other people. 99.5 percent of babies and their parents are fine. ‘
    It’s the .5 % who take their kids to inappropriate venues, who won’t remove them when they are in full cry, who let toddlers and older act out in public …
    As someone who did not have children but not by choice, but has 9 official and 3 unofficial godchildren plus a niece and nephew, I wouldn’t have an issue with a happy baby at a Yarn Harlot speech, but I do draw the line at a screaming toddler at the opera. (I kid you not – the parents had to be told to take the kid out.) Like I said – it’s that half a percent. That .5% should take some tips from my sib and her husband who took their kids almost everywhere, but had a designated baby wrangler who would remove the offender to the car or lobby if things got noisy. Taught both the niece and nephew that if they wanted to do big people things, they had to behave. The result was that my 6 year-old-niece attended a very formal dinner at a very posh restaurant (where she was admitted only because my father begged) for my parents 50th anniversary and at the end of the evening, the maitre d’ came to the table and told my father that “Miss Caroline is welcome here at any time.” Practice makes perfect. But if you don’t let kids know (when they’re old enough to know) what the boundaries are, they won’t ever learn.

  249. Just a quick follow up…I see some comments here from people who describe themselves as “dissenting” and seem to think they’re being attacked. I don’t see any attacking….
    (((hugs))) to all those moms of wee ones who have been on the receiving end of the Public Evil Eye for no good reason. I’m one of ’em. They’ll arrest me if I leave ’em in the car, and scold me if I bring ’em in. I’m doing my best. If I look overwhelmed, I probably am, and a kind word would go a million miles.

  250. I think it goes to the “one bad apple” effect. Unfortunately, now-a-days, as a few previous posters have mentioned, some parents are obvlious to those around them. Some parents now let their kids (of all ages) run amouk. It’s not fair to judge a child for being a child, but it’s also not fair to others to intrude on their space. Children need to learn to behave in public, yes, but via approach locations. Take the 2-6 year olds to the family dining places – absolutely. But not to the high-end places. There are some places that should be left to the adults. I was at the NY event, and everything seemed fine. But, I did overhear two employees talking about one child who kept running around the aisles pulling the books off the shelves. They asked the mother to keep an eye on the girl and she ignored them. They asked the little girl themselves – politely – and still, nothing. That’s just inappropriate. If I had behaved like some kids do now, I wouldn’t be here to tell the story! As for breastfeeding in public -it is fine – done discretely. Natural or not, I don’t need to see your boobs, lady! It just comes down to manners and too few adults have them now-a-days. Kids shouldn’t be blamed for lax parents, and unfortunately, the good parents bear the burden of the bad ones.

  251. As a mom of a former velcro baby who was asked to leave the back pews of church due to said baby’s barely audible suckling noises…thank you. May the parade of jr knitters continue in the blog…and may they all be happy babies!

  252. I loved your Portland event! And I love this post. I had babies all around me and they were very good. One worked out quite nicely to my advantage as I asked her mommy if I could try the hat I was making on her (it fit!).
    My (now 21 month old) god-daughter went through a big screeching phase. But she was always so excited about the noises I could not fault her for it. I asked her mom to be in my wedding last year when she was 9 months old. I was happy to have her dad walking around in the back with her, and her happy noises during the ceremony made me smile so big. I’m so happy my friend takes her daughter everywhere, I know she would not ever go out if not for that fact!

  253. So do the people who complain about children at your events not read the blog? Obviously, when you always include photos of the babies and children in attendance, babies and children must be welcome. I work in a public library, in the children’s department. It always amazes me that people seem to expect that it will be a quiet place!
    When you were in Halifax, I was accompanied by friends with children. Nobody said a word when Miss R, who was just 2, made some noise, and well, baby Gabriel just slept. I think they were the only little ones there, but they certainly seemed welcome, and their mothers did too. I’m lucky enough to be able to leave my 5 year old with family, he’s not velcro baby at all, despite nursing for almost 4 years. But if he had been velcro child, I like to think I would have been welcome as well. I’m sorry that other mothers in other places haven’t had the same experience we did in Halifax.

  254. Thank You! I am so happy you said this. I have older children, well 8 and 12 who have passed the crying and fussing stage and now are in the testing me on purpose stage. It is still difficult in many places to deal with their growing pains and public dissaproval at the same time. I hope those who universally like babies but reserve judgement on kids can remember that as they get older they are still lovable kids just not always outwardly so. πŸ™‚

  255. Alison on the comment just above me said most of the same things I was going to – I also do some work in a one-room library and the only people who get embarrassed when babies/toddlers make noise are the parents of the babies/toddlers… everyone else just grins (‘particularly’, as one older lady confided to me in a loud whisper, ‘because these days I get to cuddle them and then give them back…’). Anyone who can’t deal with babies at your events really hasn’t done their homework…
    See you in London in September…

  256. Hear, Hear. I haven’t read all the comments, so I hope they remained in the positive vein that the first few showed. A really important message; too many people are just plain grumpy, and I have never understood the “we shouldn’t allow children” mentality.

  257. Well, I am glad you are ok. I missed your posts, and so, as I am a mother, I worried about you and all your traveling … and were you stranded somewhere …

  258. Goodness gracious, Stephanie! You just keep laying it on thicker! How many more ways can I love you?! Kids are such groovy people and adult quiet is highly overrated. Let the good times roll and enjoy the wee ones, for goodness sake.

  259. Oops, I must add to Donna above . . . usually breastfeeding is about feeding a hungry baby, soothing a fussy baby, and all that. But man, your comment has made me want to show you my boobs so desperately!

  260. Thank you so very much for saying all of that. My little girl is 4 months old and will be coming with me to Northampton on Sunday, but I’d been stressing — she’s getting very vocal in her old (haha) age; what if she was cooing or (gasp) annoyed at sitting still all that time? Thank you for reassuring me that it will be okay, and that I don’t have to lock myself in my house until she’s 10.

  261. Thanks, thanks, thanks. I have two boys, a “Megan” (2yo) and an “Amanda” (11 months) and I’ve been chewing those sticks to bits. No more. I’m taking to the streets. Thanks for the permission. πŸ™‚

  262. How about KIDS/BABIES & WEDDINGS! Increasingly parents are being told to leave them at home; weddings are ONLY for adults. Some of my best childhood memories are of weddings — the brides looked like fairies or angels and I always tried to be good (and often got a new dress). Now the weddings might as well be just another cocktail party or benefit dinner, with a few added wrinkles. I hate this increasing segregation of ages. Not good for socialization (of kids OR adults!).

  263. I am still thankful to this day for two men on an airplane about 12 and a half years ago. I was flying from Tampa to Detroit and for some reason (thank you very much) I was upgraded to first class. You can imagine the faces of the first class passengers when I boarded. We were quiet and content, but I was very worried about my son falling apart at some critical moment even though he’d always been a good flyer. Then lunch was served. I was going to try to manage it – or maybe skip it. Then, these two businessmen in front of us turned to me and said, “Why don’t you have your lunch and we’ll entertain your son up here? We have little kids and we miss them.” My son joyfully bounced around on these kind strangers’ laps, happy as a clam, and I got to peacefully eat and read my book for about 20 minutes. They were so kind and they reminded me that I should always try to offer a hand to a mom or dad when traveling.

  264. Thank you. This post means a lot, Stephanie.
    Also, for those who think a person of any age is being too loud at an event, I might suggest tapping the person (or that person’s mom) on the shoulder and saying Excuse me, I’m having trouble hearing. Or something like that. People are generally very happy to fulfill a nice request.

  265. Hooray! I think you hit the nail on the head – babies and their parents are part of society, and thus, they’re gonna be in most public spaces. It, in fact, doesn’t matter whether one likes them or not. One doesn’t have to be fond of them, nor create one of them for oneself. But, just as one might not be fond of other sorts of people – the elderly, people wearing socks with sandals, tourists taking pictures and chattering in incomprehensible foreign languages, heterosexuals holding hands – one doesn’t get to ban them from public venues. (This isn’t an argument for taking howlie toddlers to the opera, but c’mon, a book tour about knitting? Most of us learned to knit for babies πŸ™‚ )

  266. Thank you so much – you clearly have a good memory of what it’s like to be that mum! Support form people like your good self is what has helped my two year old understand how we behave in public. He tries very hard to do the right thing, but when things do go awry ( as they do sometimes!), it’s support like that (instead of the weird looks or comments like ‘Oh, he needs a sleep’) that get us through the incident and on with our day.
    It’s very hard for some people to remember that these people are humans ‘in training’. Everything they do is practice, learning how to be a successful adult. An apprentice would get understanding and assistance as they train in a skill – maybe the same sort of understanding should be applied to children (and their parents!)…
    As always, you are a legend Stephanie.

  267. Nicely put. One of my great regrets is putting restrictions on children coming to our wedding. I wish I hadn’t been so determined to have it that way. They should be present, as you say.

  268. I don’t know what kind of trouble you had, but I’m sorry that you did have trouble. Motherhood *is* hard and will make you insane if you let it. At one point, I was ready to toss the baby out the window (she was colicky). I was not a sane person. Of course, there was little danger to the baby (now 6 and a knitter) since we lived in a basement apartment.
    Anyhow, ideally, we ought to give children the freedom they require to be children, but also teach them how to be respectful of others around them. It’s a delicate balance as you well know.
    P.S. Don’t let the sock monkey eat your brain. They’re wiley.

  269. A lot of problems in this world would be solved if people would just be respectful of each other and a bit less selfish. If adults are considerate of parents and children and understand that kids are kids and sometimes make noise, and parents are considerate of other adults *and* their children and take their kids out of a situation that just isn’t working, then we can all get along.

  270. Long time reader, first time commenter… and I would like to say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU Stephanie!! I am a homeschooling mom, (I’ve got three kids ages 7-12) and consequently I don’t go places (any places, EVER, my kids are watching me right now)without my kids. It is an incredible and important job, being a mother– teaching people how to be good people– and it takes a lot of time and patience, both from Mom and from Others That the Children Are Around, while they are growing and learning. Part of learning is making mistakes… and not everyone has a good day all the time. I’ve always believed that kids are just “short people” and I really appreciate you speaking up about this!!

  271. …is it still OK to be a little frustrated with the parents (not the kid, the kid was happy and had no idea I was about to go drown her in the lake and never does need to know the pain her incessant glee caused me) who gave their kid a bike bell and a whistle on the TRAIN? Happy noises are one thing. The whistle. my brain….
    In defense of the kids: I still don’t know which fork is which because my mom was never allowed to take me places. it handicaps me as an adult. Children improve by constant exposure to appropriate behavior. Take them everywhere. If you’ve got a runner, leash him or her. For your own sanity’s sake. But in Portland – where they seriously have pending legislation to allow dogs in restaurants – to behave like that? no. I am ashamed.
    And I agree- it all seems like part of a conspiracy to keep moms out of “decent society” as though they had something to be ashamed of instead of proud of.

  272. I totally applaud that. Being a teen, I much prefer babysitting to working in retail. I do think that when bringing children to events such as book sighnings, it would be good to bring something to amuse them.

  273. Stephanie, bless you and your exceedingly successful gift of writing words that make me snort and wheeze with laughter, as well as shake my head and tear up with occasional twinges of sadness. Entertainment aside, the best part about reading your blog is that I LEARN from what you have to say (i.e. bringing along a proper sled to carry your wine when out in the woods.)
    I am the mama who operates in two modes about 99% of the time: 1–goes only to the most minimal of necessary outings, always armed with the diaper bag containing snacks, sippy cup and appropriate books/toys, or 2–keeps herself trapped at home with Mr. Screechy the Two-year-old because he’s rather unpredictable at this age and I don’t want us to annoy intolerant folks who might not understand how painful it is for me to take him in public in the first place.
    BUT on rare occasions I am in public with him and sometimes he shrieks in frustration (you can’t run in the middle of the street, honey.) I am very proactive about distracting/entertaining him WHILE teaching him appropriate manners. I genuinely appreciate the kindness and tolerance of others in those situations. I guess it doesn’t hurt to repeat to all your readers the importance of “treat other people the way YOU would want to be treated.”

  274. Not that anyone is going read the 300th comment, but – I was watching my 2 year old niece at a choir concert for her older sisters, and mom was off attending to the older ones. We were, amusingly enough, seated right behind two rows of autistic children at the school.
    I don’t have kids, but heck – if they could clap and bounce their chairs up and down, how could I tell the 2 YO that she couldn’t do it either??
    She ended up completely engaging about 14 autistic kids, shushing them, and telling them when they could clap (i.e. when the song was over). And they listened to her – maybe because she was so tiny and not an authority figure???
    Who knows! We got more attention than the choir concert.

  275. I got kicked out of a Weight watchers meeting because my 13 month old was being too charming with all the old ladies there and the leader just couldn’t deal. I remember I cried tears of anger and frustration all the way home. I so desperately wanted to lose weight and needed camaraderie and here my sweet baby was too happy for them! I never went back to that meeting.

  276. I had a velcro baby as well. He’s now 21. I remember those days so well!
    So the BIG question is, when do you take a break from writing about knitting to writing about mother hood? The post about the boot-licking toddler at the Christmas concert, this one, and a bunch of what you’ve written about watching your girls and Hank the adorable nephew grow up would be half a book right there.
    We’d all buy it, and maybe buy an extra one to give to that poor ready-to-chew on sticks mom that we know.

  277. I had such pleasure at the Portland event of having a two week old baby cradled in arms right behind me making the lovliest snuffly noises. What a wonderful trip down memory lane for me as mine are now 15 an 16. I took my kids everywhere and high tailed it out when they fussed. My oldest was nicknamed Miss Opihi – after a limpet shell – for her firm grasp in my leg
    I still have one particularly heinous memory of a two year old (mine) throwing herself on the floor of the Honolulu airport concourse. I had an out of body experience as I tried to coax her to come with me.
    If it can happen to me it can happen to anyone. I laugh now, but not without a shudder of horror first.

  278. Just want to point out that fathers are sometimes the ones to do the bringing-along (or at least mine was). I know this is a lot about Moms and their position is society, but gender equality also means that Dads might be primary caregivers.

  279. Just one more reason you rock, Stephanie! Thank you so very much for supporting moms everywhere.
    –Amanda (Everett’s mommy in Portland)

  280. If someone is seriously disturbed by happy baby noises, perhaps the problem does not lie with the happy baby.
    I too had two very different children. Number One son was so placid that we could take him to the movies and he’d quietly snooze through the entire thing. Number Two son was very audible when he was unhappy with his environment and we learned to limit his discomfort by not schlepping him everywhere. (Although one has to leave the house every once in a while or start gnawing on the furniture.)
    But I must confess that I was well aware of some folks who would give our little family dirty looks when we entered a restaurant because they assumed our tykes would be disruptive. It was very gratifying when one such dirty-look-giver approached our table as they were leaving and apologized because my children were such a pleasure to share the space with.
    My advice to the pre-disturbed, 1) wait until you’re hurt to complain and 2) make sure you really are hurt in the first place. Remember, you were once an occasionally noisy little kid yourself!

  281. Thank you for this post. As a mom of four (the oldest is 22 youngest is 9), I am still picking wood out of my teeth from chewing those sticks. Thank you, just thank you.

  282. I think consideration and good manners have to come from both sides–for example, the people sitting in church (or elsewhere) should have some sympathy for the families who are present with small children, and those parents with children should have consideration for those around them who are trying to hear what the pastor (or whoever)is saying. I think its appropriate for parents to remove screaming children. Sometimes they just need a few moments in the lobby to settle down, and then they can return. In my observations of children at public events, food goes a long way towards keeping kids quiet. Munching children are usually happy children. I’m with Christine in the comments–tolerance and compassion both ways, please!

  283. well said.
    Just the other day our local paper wrote an article about a priest who loved having children in church. An elderly lady complained to him that if he didn’t ask the parents and children to leave, then she would. He said he was going to miss her. Gotta love that.

  284. Let’s also keep in mind that in many more cases than we realize, a “misbehaving” young child actually has disability which can make it extremely difficult for him or her to behave in a way that meets the standards society expects (autism, for example). What you see as a screaming, tantrum-throwing child may in fact be a child who has made it down the cereal aisle for the first time without throwing 25 boxes of cereal off the shelf–and how will he or she learn to make it down the same aisle without screaming unless he/she is exposed to these kinds of situations and taught how to behave in them as many times as it takes to be successful? I teach preschool special education, and have heard of too many people who judge first, offer hurtful, unsolicited opinions second, and never think that there may be more to the story. When I am in public places and confronted by out-of-control kids, I try to remember that I don’t know the whole story on this child. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

  285. I enjoy your soapbox lectures. You lecture charmingly. Probably helps that I tend to agree with you. (I especially agree with this one, not that it matters.)

  286. Dude, rock on with your bad self…
    Speaking as someone who brought a child (fortunately well behaved, other than having to go on what I insisted be the fastest pee break ever in the middle of your talk) and who had a child stay home who would not have been quiet, has tourette’s, and can’t manage crowds–you said it.
    I try to remember that as a mom, I am not the boss of me. But sometimes, just sometimes, I need a grown-up break, even if it means daring to go public with a less-than-perfectly quiet child.

  287. And still no one has mentioned the one occasion where baby sounds, even unhappy sounds, are balm — funerals. I swear they should rent babies for funerals. There wasn’t a one at my friend Julie’s last week, and we sure could have used it.

  288. I don’t comment very often (though I read every day) but I have to today. This post brought tears to my eyes and I have to say kudos. You make me want to just fly up to Canada and give you a big HUG! Well said, and thanks for reminding us. I think you have such an interesting perspective to offer sometimes, and I’m so thankful that you have this forum at your disposal. Can’t wait to meet you Sunday at Webs! πŸ™‚

  289. As the mother of two (one grown, and one nearly so), I wholly agree.
    As a priest, I’m thinking about printing this out so I can just point to it when folks wonder how I feel about children in worship. The same rules apply.

  290. As mother to a 35-year old, nothing gives me such sheer pleasure as to have a little interchange with a wee one – it’s been way too long. Since I’m now mostly doing baby-wrangling instead of a stressful desk job, I have lots of opportunities to be on both sides of the equation and I think remembering that we are all human regardless of size is the key to compromise.
    Recently, I was returning from Montreal to San Francisco on my own after 2 weeks on the road with an almost-one year old, and as I was waiting in the departure lounge (with my knitting of course) I noticed a young mom with a child under 4 months old chatting with an older man. I thought “New baby, new mom, must be grampa” and walked over to chat. Told the mom I was a travel nanny and that if she needed any help during the flight to just ask. It turned out I sat in the row behind her, and when she needed a bathroom break I got to cuddle a wee one for a wee bit – it made for the nicest solo flight I’ve had in a long time. It takes so little effort, and it made the flight easier for the new mom, her seatmates, the baby, and me. Just take a moment and reach out and you may find the rewards well worth your effort.
    We can’t expect people with so little experience to behave like repressed adults; the joyful noises they make as they discover the world are a lift to the heart and a promise that the human race will continue – and hopefully improve.
    If a Harlot event was a high-ticket item and required formal dress, or at least formal knitwear, I might understand the complaints of those who don’t want to hear a squeak from a small person. But given the child-friendly attitudes oft expressed at this blog, I don’t see how anyone could be surprised that there would be (Shock! GASP!) children at a book event. Good heavens, people, announcements are made that nursing mothers and those with small children are welcome at the front of the line for signings, and there are all those wonderful photos of babies and young knitters to coo over and marvel at.
    Thanks for speaking to this, Steph; I, for one, would not begrudge you a day and night of relaxation and sleep – or what you and Joe want to consider “sleeping” with such a grueling schedule. You totally rock, my friend!

  291. 1) When you say “We’ve got the only culture on earth – or in the history of humans that actually segregates adults and children,” I am assuming you mean us Americans (as the incidents in question took place here in the US?).
    That may be because there are so many Americans have thrown out the book of good manners and there are so many ill-behaved kids running at large that without segregation the rest of us would lose our minds.
    “When I was growing up”… if we were at an ‘adult’ event/restaurant/play/movie, then we behaved accordingly. There *are* places where children are inappropriate and the expectation of quiet or decorum is reasonable.
    2) “This belief, that children are people, with rights, needs and privileges,”
    Absolutely! However, they do not have the same rights & privileges that adults have. This is evidenced by law (again, in the U.S.). As children, their needs come before adults, but their rights are equal to adults, and all people *earn* privileges.
    3) This said – and knowing that I am definitely in the minority – it has been a personal growth experience for me to do some deep breathing/quick meditation when I hear crying or noisy children. Anyone who knows you and your views should not be surprised to see kids at your events.
    Finally, there is just no excuse for rudeness under any circumstance and I’m glad that you didn’t witness the incidents, which would have been a real bummer.

  292. Speaking as one without any babies (does the cat count?), I can very easily recall a time in my late 20’s/early 30’s where the sound of babies at “adult” events drove me nuts.
    Then came my nieces, my nephew, and the amazing day a little more than a year ago where I found myself coaching my best friend through the birth of her first kid — a rousing bundle of joy named Erick. Because I was living in my friend’s town for three months (teaching one of her classes at the local college), I got lots and lots of Erick time — and I LEARNED SOMETHING COOL.
    Babies make noises because that’s how they talk to us. Unless we’re around them from day one, we forget the baby language, and we learn the adult language, and we get all smug because we use adult language. So naturally, because we don’t understand the babies, they annoy us. Guess what, folks? It’s much better to be bilingual!
    So — I have been hoisted by my petard by Mr. Erick — and I love to hear babies trying to get their keepers’ attention. I gladly sit next to babies — because they might teach me something!

  293. Thank you sooooo much for saying that. I’m a mother of four who has truly been there. I was once called out IN CHURCH by the minister DURING HIS SERMON for my 12 month old singing. He asked what the problem was (and there wasn’t one. He really was just singing hymns.) I replied, “He’s just making ajoyful noise.”
    I didn’t go back the next week.

  294. It’s just pretty sad that you never hear of anyone offering assistance anymore. Mom’s have their hands full, maybe if you helped the mom with something, things for everyone would be smoother. Not a complaint, just saying.

  295. Can you imagine what the world could be if we ALL treated one another with “a little tolerance and gentleness”?

  296. When my son was one month old we took the train from L.A. to Seattle. We were moving to our new home and I wanted the trip to be more relaxing for him. My Mom graciously offered to make the trip with me so that I would have assistance when i needed it. I don’t think I could have done it without her…. Anyway, the one night we were on the train was a bad one for my boy. Poor tyke.
    The next morning I noticed our neighbor-cabin was occupied by a rather stoic looking older gentleman. When we happened to see him the next morning my Mom apologized for the crying all night. He immediately said there was no need and that no one should have to apologize for the sounds of “new life”.
    I will never forget that.

  297. I hear you!!!
    Took my 2 year old to a restaurant a few years back and they told me that they don’t want children and they don’t supply high chairs…I refused to go and we actually took 4 table napkins and strapped her into the chair. People came up to us and said “good for you” This was a family vacation spot at the Jersey shore. People have to eat@!!@!!!
    Keep it going girl.

  298. i didn’t read all the posts, since there are a million. but as a (nearly) middle-aged woman without children i can honestly say that for me what seems like chaos and noise, maybe really isn’t, i just don’t know, and i hope i am always patient and understanding in those situations. it is hard to be certain if you are being unreasonable though, when you don’t have a living breathing comparison. that said, only once or twice have i ever been in a situation where i thought that a parent should do something. one was on an airplane where a very proud mother let her child lick the buckle of my seatbelt and crawl unattended up and down the aisle of the plane before take off. icky, more for the baby’s sake than for mine! planes are seriously nasty.

  299. Brava! Just signing in to clock my agreement with absolutely everything! On the other side, though, we poor mothers need to be a little sensitive to the people in the audience (or theater, or yarn shop, or wherever) and realize that, while we love our particular little spawn, that they are not always a) cooperative b) nice or c) sweet-smelling! Nor should one be completely, irrationally offended when another woman (or man) might suggest that taking our baby out for a bit might calm them. When I was breastfeeding, my daughter went absolutely EVERYWHERE I did (as I was the kitchen!), but I had the good sense enough to hightail it to a secluded (or at least less disruptive) place when her wails escalated above 120 decibels! A little common sense and respect here…on BOTH sides!

  300. Just wanted to say that single people like having babies around, too! I’ve gone so many places with my friends’ children (from the age of 1 week on up), and have learned that sometimes little people make noise. But then, we big people do too!

  301. I wish you or a speaker like you had been here in the four years I stayed home with my daughter (and two child care kids) and didn’t really go anywhere since there wasn’t anywhere child-friendly to go to that didn’t interfere with a husband who wakes up at 5:00pm and needs to have dinner eaten by 6:30pm so he could get out the door (with our only car) by 7:00pm for work.
    I may have be more socialized now.

  302. A favorite parenting moment was when I had a 3 yr old screaming in a public restroom on some major highway, on a LOOOOONG car trip. She wouldn’t do what was necessary, and I was trying to patiently walk her through it. Finally got her done and washing hands (“the hard way” with me making her go through the motions, with my hands directing…awful). Another woman, and older lady, smiled at me and said (raising her voice over my screaming toddler) that I was a good mother!!!!! As I gaped at her she said that kids aren’t easy and I was doing the right thing (she wasn’t getting away with the tantrum, and I was doing what was necessary as quickly and straight-forwardly as possible). That lovely woman made my day….and that toddler is now a 16 yr old with a boyfriend, with all sorts of neat skills.
    Kids aren’t convenient….if they are noisy, take them out of the event (that same DD was taken out of so many venues…..), but if they are not loud, then fine. And if there is no choice (like a bathroom on a highway) be nice to the parents….they are doing the best they can.

  303. Thank you, thank you, thanks you. How nice to hear a reasoned outlook on kids. My own son and I have been asked to leave more than one yarn store literally within minutes of entering despite the fact that the worst thing the child has ever done to yarn is pick it up and hand it to me. I just can’t bring myself to enjoy a place where I know my son is not welcome, even if he’s not with me. It really puts a damper on my life as a woman outside motherhood, and it’s so nice to know that if you’re ever in my neck of the woods and I can’t find a babysitter, the boy and I can come anyway! πŸ™‚

  304. Yup..I’m with ya. Breastfed three babies. First child had a terrible time leaving me. When she went off to school they actually wanted her to see the school psychologist!! Can you imagine? Cuz she wanted her mother at 5 years old. This amazing child went to college on a full academic scholarship and now teaches kindergarten. Imagine.

  305. I only have one child. After many “why didn’t we just stay home” trips to Boston Pizza where Brendan was under the table, on the table, beside the table, not at the table – all I have to say is that if we don’t take our children places, how will they socialize?

  306. I have to agree with the people that say all of this is tolerance. Happy kid noises are nice. Sad/tired/mad kid noises aren’t. Loud cell phone talking isn’t. Loud teenagers aren’t.
    It comes down to respect from everyone FOR everyone. You may be able to hear a speaker/movie/phone call over your child because you are used to them. Not everyone can. When a child gets too loud for an event the parent needs to do something to fix the problem. The child isn’t the problem… the noise would be the issue. If that means standing up and walking them around for 15 minutes… that is your job as a parent. If it means taking the 5 YO outside and explaining to them why screaming isn’t appropriate then so be it.
    It is never the child who is at fault. They are children. It is the parents who think that it is cute in a crowded restaurant for their child to scream for 20 minutes without doing SOMEthing about it.
    Everyone (People without kids/kids/parents) have the right to enjoy being out in public. This applies to wild kids, loud folks on Cell phones, people who yell across the table at each other because it’s ‘cute.’ How many people here had their lives ruined because when they were kids mom made them leave a restaurant because they started crying? I know that I certainly learned how to behave in public because I wanted to stay IN the restaurant.
    People on both sides of the issue need to respect each other. Ask yourself (honestly!!!!!!), if I were sitting in the other seat how would I feel about the person sitting in MY seat.

  307. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. I have worried what I will do if you ever make it my town, as I am almost always with my children, and wouldn’t have it any other way. It is good to know that they are welcomed by you.

  308. I think a knitting version of the Babysitter’s Club is in order here. It will placate both sides. The mothers get to sit through the event unhindered by the complaints of people who don’t appreciate their children’s imitation of devil spawn.
    lol but seriously, I generally love when children are brought to events, but (although I might not actually say anything to the mother) it can get annoying with a child screaming in the aisle.
    Then again, I was one of those children who could never be seperated from my mother so of course there are exceptions for screaming children.
    I’m really good at sitting on the fence.

  309. my son was miserable the whole time we were there, inexplicably. thank you for reassuring me (and the other parents with fussy babes I passed in all of my pacing of 3rd place books) that you understand & aren’t mad. one more reason I think you’re awesome πŸ™‚

  310. Your post just reminded me to appreciate my kids when they are really great. Not necessarily perfect but when they handle a situation with grace and good behavior when it is just really tough for them.
    Then having wonderful tolerant people around makes the day just exceptional.

  311. I completely agree with you… and quite frankly I find the “cellphone Symphony” (as one of my college professors called it) to be a LOT more annoying (same with people who talk loudly on their cellphones during movies at theaters or in resteraunts) to be MUCH more annoying than babies babbling and kids making happy noises!
    If you ever get to Albany or Saratoga in New York, my youngest and I absolutely will be there!

  312. As the mom of a 20 month old breastfed boy who behaves better at some public events than the grown-ups, thank you for saying this. My son goes everywhere with me (well, except for the gym), and because of that, we’ve been shut out of local knitting groups that have no-kids policies.
    And as an aside, one night when we were out to eat, my son started fussing as we were finishing dinner. Rather than subject the other people in the restaurant to a fussy boy, we got our dessert to go. As the waiter brought the check and the dessert to the table, he THANKED us for being responsive parents, and for taking care of our son. He told us he’d seen too many parents who would have just let their child scream, and it was refreshing to see good parents for a change! He got a GREAT tip!
    Any plans to come to Florida? I’d love to bring my son to meet you!

  313. My Darling Harlotta – all I have to say is this about knitterly children: all the children and wee ones who attended the Bailey’s Crossroads Borders event last fall in Virginia were lovely. Some of them were even tiny knitters already. I was delighted to see them and even more delighted that they seemed to enjoy themselves (and it was an evening event, more to their credit).
    I have a high tolerance for small children, apparently, despite what I tell people about my tolerance for small children (I say I like them in moderation but as I am running the clinic in a 1000+ student elementary school, no one is buying that one). There are places one doesn’t expect to see children (biker bars…the courtroom…tattoo parlors…) however, I would not think bookstores or knitterly events would be some of them.
    I end up in places where children who are being disruptive are allowed to continue to be so. Frequently. Manners IN THE PARENTS are slipping here and there and they do not take their child starting to ‘fizzle out’ as the teachable moment that it is. If it is in a shop or some such setting where I can remove myself when this occurs, I do. But there have been occasions when this is not the preferable choice. Having sat through many school events when my children were in elementary with a certain set of parents who NEVER EVER REMOVED ANY OF THE FUSSY CHILDREN THEY HAD FROM THE BUILDING when said children were very nearly screaming their lungs out, I am less than thrilled. Several hundred parents came to see their children’s program in each case. Crying, screaming, gnashing of teeth wee one was not even taken out of the hall, much less where the screaming was not causing everyone there to try to not look at the child. Daddy was pacing the floor with wee one – Mommy had a video camera on older sister on stage and off stage. Sigh.
    That little so-and-so browning out is almost never due to his own actions in the cases of babies, toddlers and some small children. However, in my humble opinion, if little so-and-so is over about four…gentle taking in hand by their parent (or whatever adult brung them) is in order. They can walk around…they can have a little word. My own son is 14 and in his younger years has been known to be a little whiny (if not downright ornery). He and I have been known to have a word behind a restaurant’s back door in the parking lot a time or two about whether or not he would like to have his dinner or sit in the car and wait until his father and sister were done. I have no problem Mom-ing up and dealing with the “sitch”.
    Even children you know and can predict, will sometimes behave in an unpredictable way. That’s why being anyone’s mama or daddy is an exercise in spontaneous creativity every single day.

  314. Thanks so much for this post; it’s nice to know someone understands. I have three children under four, and am definitely finding it true that there is a decided lack of sleep and great difficulty in getting out of the house.

  315. We have to take the good with the bad, the rich with the poor, the tall with the short, and the noisy with the quiet.
    What would anything be if there weren’t something to balance it?
    If it ain’t life or death, it’s all okay.

  316. So well said, Steph. And I am the first to admit that there were times when mine acted like “demon spawn”. All I can say is that they grew up to be wonderful people, and I am relieved.

  317. Very well said. Unfortunately, as a single mum sharing custody of my son with his dad, I find there are more and more things I have to bow out of since it’s been made clear that my boy isn’t welcome, and when he’s with me I’m simply not willing to get a sitter. I see little enough of him as it is, that losing another evening to a meeting or other event just isn’t worth it for me. It is kind of hurtful when he’s so well behaved and doesn’t make a fuss at all. He’s 4 1/2 and we get complemented on his behaviour all the time! So there does seem to be a disconnect somewhere there. Anyway, all that to say that you’re right on. And thanks. πŸ™‚

  318. I’m glad for your outspokenness in defense of young children in public. However, I am still going to enjoy every moment of NOT having my young children in tow when you come to Indy. πŸ™‚ And the other not-my-kids there will just add to my enjoyment!
    You sound pretty tired–I feel sorry that providing such a treat for us has to be so grueling.

  319. I’m all for having babies with their mommas! That being said, I’m also all for having a kid-free adult moment too! I love it when an event makes it clear which type of event it is (kidlet-friendly/kidlet-free) so I can make the choice and set my own kidlet tolerance meter prior to attendance!

  320. Thank you. I’ve been to two of your events in NYC, one when I was pregnant (remember trying to get to Brooklyn in a cab?) and the other at FIT with my 5 month old in tow. Luckily I have a great husband who is willing to attend knitting events and watch our child, and take him out when he got a little fussy. But oh so true that I was thrilled to get out, bring my baby, be able to breastfeed, and listen to you all in one evening! I think all of this hubub falls under “can’t we just get along?”

  321. I had to laugh when I read this post. I intended to go to the Portland event, but after several days of a headache, allergies (to what? I never used to have them), and insane irritation with the crazy weather this spring (I could deal with snow in Montana on Memorial Day–it happened every year–but not in Portland in April!) I told myself I had better stay home and wait for another Harlot visit. I just knew that if I saw several women standing smack in a doorway nattering away and blocking everyone else I would yell something like “move your effing arses, you gormless twits!” So, I guess I’m glad I stayed home, and didn’t add to any bad karma. But, I must say I agree with the people who have mentioned that some adults go out to get away from the noise and confusion at home (an elderly parent who can drive me mental) and would like to actually hear the amusing words of the Yarn Harlot (or eat a restaurant meal in peace, or whatever). And it seems to me that Stephanie understands that, and makes a distinction between happy baby noises and the noises of an over-tired, frantic small one who needs to go home. And yes, I raised two lively children, now grown, who made me look bad in terms of my discipline at home (chores?), but who knew they were not allowed to offend other people in public. I don’t recall what I did to inculcate this idea, but as adults, they have told me that one look at my face made clear what the boundaries were. Lucky me–that was easy.
    Kate

  322. thank you so much! As a mom of a 3 year old and 3 month old- I am so grateful for your words. I have learned over the last 3 years that everyone thinks breastfeeding is good for babies- as long as I only do of at home and not near them ( which ITU feeding my daughter every 3 hours- would mean never leaving home ..) and everyone loves children in theory– until they are- well – childish in their behavior. Your comments are just so comforting and true to my experience , and I am so very grateful to you!!

  323. It’s like a car-driving person being annoyed by bicycles on the road. I once went to a Japanese Tyco drumming exhibition with a friend and his 2-year-old son. The little boy loved it in the most exhuberent way. His appreciation of raw rhythm was exciting to witness, but some staid adults around us were quite angry. Brandon & I slipped out and entertained ourselves learning new words like “yellow” and “Winnebago.”

  324. As a person who generally enjoys children, I am finding that as I age; my tolerance for children is becoming shorter. It really bothers me to be in a resturant, paying $50 a plate, and have a kid yelling or talking or banging their spoons. I do not have children, this could explain my attitude; but your blog has taught me something new. I just wish that the people with kids could be considerate of those that do not. Perhaps I have paid good money or sacrificed time to be somewhere for myself and I should be entitled to the full experience of my event, without kid/baby noise. Quite baby cooing is okay, but sometimes they can sound like birds- this is not okay. Thanks!

  325. Great post. As a non-driving mother of 3 who breastfeed until around each of my babies in turn was around 2yo I had my share of nasty comments. Relying on public transport meant that no matter how carefully I timed it there was sometimes a tired or hungry baby. I am very sorry that things reached a point for some poor parents where you had to say anything at all. It really should all be general courtesy and common sense. *sigh*
    PS: When are you coming to NZ? *vbg*

  326. As one who is not a huge kid, baby, or pet person, I agree with much of what you say. I have two grown children (23 and 20) whom I love dearly and who have turned out wonderfully. They were taken many places and have eclectic tastes. (My older son’s first solid food was brie at a church reception!). I was and am lucky enough to have a husband with whom I split kid duty and many other of the wonderful and onerous aspects of life. I would never have attempted to come to anything like your talks with my kids, but I have never been faced with that choice. I didn’t have velcro kids, but I understand those who have had them. I just wish, as others have mentioned, that when a child is NOT happy to be where her or she has been taken, that the parent(s) would remove him/her. This is all about being respectful, polite, and considerate.
    Remember to breathe! All shall be will and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well (Julian of Norwich)

  327. Amen and this reminds me of a similar sort of intolerance I experienced years ago. For many years I worked with adults with severe cognitive delays. One evening we went to a local Italian restaurant for dinner. There was a family seated near us who kept glancing at our party of 5 and getting clearly agitated. They called over the manager and spoke frantically to him and as he approached us I thought ‘uh oh” because I figured the family had decided that dining next to 4 clearly challenged adults (2 with down syndrome)was unfair and he was going to ask us to move or leave. Nope. he apologized for the behavior of the other family, comped our meal, brought wine and dessert later and oh, he kicked that family out and asked them not to return. It made my day and really made my dinner companions feel wanted and empowered. He also made eye contact with all of us when he spoke which also meant a great deal.
    It’s all about tolerance and understanding, sure, if someone is out of control it’s nice to try and minimize the situation but babies are babies and kids are kids and they can be vocal, it’s all good.

  328. Bravo!! I “wore” my daughter for nearly her whole first year and carried her around or had her sitting on me for much of the next couple of years. There were very few places I didn’t take her. She is a happy, healthy, only child, university graduate living 500 miles from her parents who calls her parents often and is putting herself through Chiropractic college. I think wearing children turns out good adults!

  329. My two youngest sat on my lap when I had my teeth cleaned, had my face waxed and my hair cut. They went with me everywhere. The more places I took them the better they behaved. Kids have to practice being out in the real world, too. I love it when I see little kids out. Even when they’re crying….then I just appreciate that they aren’t mine!

  330. I never understood the prickliness with kidlets. I’m single, childless, and older. That key demographic that get “tagged” as not kid-friendly (and in fairness, it may be true). But I always love the sound of kids. Especially the happy sounds. And the upset sounds; I find they usually have legitimate reason to complain.
    I have been known to dig in my purse for the magic distractor. The business card carrier and the business cards went over BIG.
    Hey Moms, I’m sorry you get this from folks. I promise, there are just as many of us that love seeing you with your kidlets. And we know getting the kids out is good for both of you. I love having you at events. I promise, I’ll scan the room and make sure I’m the one sitting next to you from now on.
    With the magic business cards.

  331. Have three children: two now grown, and one a tween. Have *so* many memories of when they were little, in public places. Many people were kind, but the nasty ones I will never forget. Like the folks in the *Catholic* churches who complain about there being too many kids. Heck, the Catholic Mass is almost all rote–the only part you need to hear is the homily, and if you really need to hear it, sit up front!! There’s always plenty of room up front!
    Also, when did stores turn into temples? Do you really need peace and quiet and no distractions to shop?
    My feeling when my kids were young is that it was easier for people to funnel their anger at young women–mothers–than at whatever it was that was *really* bothering them. It’s much harder to funnel anger at teenagers or men of any age.
    Women collect all the crap. Even when they’re places where *children* are *supposed* to be.

  332. It’s been interesting reading the comments on this one, because even the folks who say they’re dissenting or throwing in an opinion ‘on the other side of the coin’ aren’t, in fact, dissenting at all from your basic premise from what I can see. They’re expressing an opinion that differs from your own in the enjoyment of baby noises, but are basically just calling for consideration from all people in a group environment. Fair enough. As you said, no one has to like the fact that your events are very much kid friendly and it is your wish they remain so, but no one can argue your right to set the tone of Your events.
    What I do find interesting (quoting from experiences related in these comments and elsewhere, not a specific person here) is the difference in language people seem to think is ok to use towards mothers with babies – that they have No Right to be somewhere with the children. The omnipresent guy with a ticklish cough I always seem to end up up near at the symphony is far more disruptive to that experience than a happy child is at a book event, and yet the worst that guy’s going to get is a cold stare, or a pointed offer of a cough drop. No one’s going to tell him he had No Right to go to the concert that night.

  333. When I was younger, small “happy” children drove me crazy. Now that I am a grammy times three, “happy” noises are a delight to me. Let’s hope all those people who complain about children turn into grammies someday! You wonder if they were ever children….

  334. As a mother to 4 children, 8 and under and two being toddler size and also one that is like velcro, I can’t even go to the bathroom with out help. We won’t talk about how many days since I showered, and they are toddlers. I still get up in the night. I got lucky with their daddy, they love him and I can leave them with him when he is home, but he is active duty military. I take them, they make noise. So do adults. If I can go, I think they can go (with in reason) You won’t see me at a movie with the whole brood, but I would so take them to the yarn harolt. (and I might not hear them being loud. I have 4, I don’t hear it anymore)
    Thanks Steph for being cool with the kids. Your like our Preist. He stood up and told the whole parish to can it on the fussing about the kids making sounds in Mass. They are people too and with out them what do we have left?
    Rest, do you wash. We can wait.

  335. I’ll never forget sitting in a very overcrowded Dr.s office with a sick two year old, who after what seemed like hours of waiting, leaned over and vomited over a large expanse of floor. The receptionist threw a box of tissue at me and as I tried to clean up my baby, the floor and myself with the cheap tissues-NOT ONE single person offered to help in anyway- I decided right then that anytime I saw a mom/dad and baby in distress I would do what ever I could to help.

  336. I was at the Portland event, also, and didn’t hear any noise. I would rather hear a (happy) baby than some adult bellowing into their cell phone. Also, I was extremely moved by you asking anyone who needed to get home quickly to come up first, and letting everyone know that you would stay as long as necessary, so we didn’t need to even line up. Competition feels so bad, and cooperation feels so good, if we can stop long enough to remember it. I loved the whole evening, but I must say, that was the pinnacle. Thanks.

  337. LOL That’s fantastic, Amysue.
    My hubby’s the worst offender. He gets so stressed that Byron is making small noises and “probably bothering people” that I have to take him out!

  338. I can’t bring myself to read all the comments – truly overwhelming response. It’s funny because I read and commented on this incident on another blog and I want to thank you for addressing it.
    I just last week had an incident with little 2.5 year old Cyrus (the one who handed you the sticky granola bar at last year’s NY Represent tour) where he walked off a bench at the vet’s waiting room and did a complete face plant on the floor. While I was holding him and consoling him, one of the attendants asked “Is there anything we can do to make your life better?” It was just the right thing to say – there was no judgment, no complaints about the wailing – I stopped, thought and answered no. This is California though and it does have that crunchy-granola ring to it, but still. What if people said something like that to each other? What if indeed.

  339. I love your baby pictures and your support of keeping Moms and babies together.
    As someone who dedicated 15 years of studying and working with children, I believe that ALL children are innately good. If young children are misbehaving, there is usually a reason, not necessarily having anything to do with a parent. Such as having the wrong color of tippee cup πŸ™‚ or being tired and thirsty and not having the understanding or verbal expression to do anything about it. In this case, the astute parent can figure these things out.
    For kids who chronically misbehave the home situation should be evaluated as well as the child should have a medical evaluation. Maybe there is a vision problem, maybe a hearing problem, maybe a UTI (yes, young kids get UTI’s and in them studies need to rule out more serious underlying conditions with the kidney or ureters (tubes that connect the kidney and bladder.) Or even a heart problem. Not to get too specific, but there are many reasons a child might have trouble being “good” and the child that is either violent or is “too good” may be an abused child or exposed to violence in the home.
    So I do view children differently than adults, or kids who can control their actions but choose not to. But even teens who run away from home or use drugs (or both) usually have some serious reason or cause. Some may suffer from depression, or also have a history of abuse or violence in the home.
    So this is a long winded post to say in favor of all children, especially young children, that they are not adults and deserve some understanding on their behalf. As you pointed out, there are situations where the child needs to leave in deference to a crowd, just as a matter of being polite, of course, escorted by a parent or another adult. And you don’t have to like them all.
    I just happen to like all (ok, most) children, and was able to connect with the vast majority of my patients.
    I hope that all knitting Moms continue to feel the welcome that you have extended them to your events.
    Marianne Restel, M.D.

  340. For every poorly behaved child and the bewildered parent accompanying them, there’s an equally poorly behaved adult *sigh*
    Being a single, sans-child (bless the parents, it’s not a job I could do! although I am ace at auntie-ing), introverted twentysomething I must say that I’m not as delighted by the high pitched sounds little people are capable of making nor the wild running about in a situation where I might be carrying a heavy glass-laden tray. But I’m also not fond of blackberries, bluetooth, and text messaging at films and on the whole that happens MUCH more often than the occasional cranky child. My sister and I learned good manners by being given the privilege of going out to “grown up” restaurants and the opportunity to prove we could apply our home table manners out in public. Why on earth shouldn’t every child and their Ma get to go out and about? mothers are people as are their considerably smaller companions! While bars, nightclubs and 18+ concerts aren’t child territory pretty much everything else…is fair game so long as all humans present and capable behave like courteous citizens!
    I thought that would be common sense – but when my exhausted comic-shop employed roommate reported the sudden dumping of several (15) unescorted 7-12 year old kids into his unwilling solo care (meaning the parents dumped the kids and ran off) said parents knowing NOTHING of my roommates character or history (luckily he is a nice responsible guy) I am highly doubtful of common “sense!”

  341. yeah.. thank you
    my last 2 were extra klingon, so i was stubborn and took them everywhere

  342. It really sucks that at an event with your name on it, with very capable people organising it, others would think they were in a position to boss your guests around. My husband and I so rarely went anywhere without a child (we have three, all now adults) that once, in a restaurant, my husband was debating whether to say something to the server about a child who was very unhappy being there when the manager came out and went to speak to the parents. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see his technique for removing unwanted patrons because as he arrived at the table, the child bit his mum and drew blood – I told you he was unhappy! Maybe hungry, too. But we would never have approached them ourselves – it wasn’t our place. And happy kid noises – my sister-in-law and I took my daughter and her cousin, both aged five to a production by our local amateur musical theatre group. Just before the intermission, my neice dropped off and we would have happy just let her sleep, but since she started to snore, and more like a linebacker than a five year old, her Mum elected to take her home at the intermission.

  343. It’s been said – but “here, here”!
    I cherish the memory of the looks on my fellow-passengers’ faces — on an airplane trip some years ago — when they realized my one year old and 5 year old would be sharing their pampered lives in first class. It was worth every frequent flyer mile it cost us πŸ˜‰

  344. When I see a parent and child struggling I watch quietly and see if I have anything to offer that might help. Food? Water? Time? Space? Distraction? A chair for the nursing mom in the ladies room? A tissue? Or…a welcoming smile of been-there-done-that understanding.

  345. You know, it’s hard enough being a parent. Can’t we all just cut each other a little slack? Thank you for the lovely post. Children are people and need time to learn how to be appropriate. Parents are people too and likewise need time to learn how to help their kids be appropriate. Kids don’t belong everywhere, but they do belong most places, within reason. I would think a book signing would easily fit within those bounds. Especially since you ALWAYS post photos of future knitters on your blog. yeesh.
    I have been far more annoyed with cell phone talkers than children in public.

  346. I’ll have to go back to read them all — but “Hear Hear!!” On ALL counts. I’ve always felt bad for Unhappy Wee Ones whose moms thoughtlessly keep them wherever they are; I am, however, old enough that I’ve figured out pleasant ways to say so.

  347. You know, I was complaining last night about how I can never leave my baby, within an hour my husband is phoning me, saying she needs me. I felt resentful. I was angry at my husband because he couldn’t handle her. I was jealous of my friends with their freedom – all of THEIR husbands were at home putting THEIR babies to bed, and I showed up late, and had to leave early, because my baby SUCKS.
    And you know, then I read this blog, and I realized it’s not ME. It’s THEM. My baby is fine. She’s perfect. She just needs her mommy. And you know, if she’s not welcome at an evening gathering, then maybe that’s not where I need to be right then and there. And when she’s ready for her mommy to be gone for a little while, she’ll never go back. So I’m going to log off, and go upstairs, and cuddle my baby in my bed and stop thinking about what everybody else thinks. She’s perfect.

  348. wow, nicole.
    it’s not your baby that sucks, but rather the people who don’t like the sound of screaming and crying? oh, that’s not judgemental *at all* . . .

  349. First time in 20 years that I hear somebody speak up!
    BRAVO!
    I don’t have kids, but I was born and raised in EastGermany (DDR) where anybody not thinking LIKE YOU would be considered very strange indeed. I hope you take over the world – as it would be a much better place!
    *don’t even ask about the cultural shock we’ve been through* lol

  350. Thanks so much for this post. Babies and kids aren’t convienient. Even the good ones are at least occasionally messy, loud and inappropriate. Thanks for understanding that, and asking others to do the same.
    I’ve removed myself and my small child from things I really wanted to go to because it wasn’t something we could do peacefully. It’s part of being a parent.
    I am not one to let my kids run around and do whatever they please whether it bothers people or not. My kids are old enough now that it’s not so much of a problem,and appropriate behavior is expected and usually received.
    However, there are occasions when we are tired, or hungry or over whelmed and someone will have a slight meltdown. A little bit of understanding sure is appreciated at those times.
    As a kinda crunchy, stay at home, home schooling mom who breastfed her kids for what most would consider an extended time, so I NEEDED to bring my infant with me, and sometimes still do have to bring my kids somewhere with me,, I really appreciate your blog post.
    Thanks so much.

  351. When my son was 6 months old, I took him to a really great local restaurant to have lunch with a dear friend from out of town. When I walked in with him in his Kangaroo seat, the owner (who was a friend) came over and said “What are you trying to do to me?” I explained that my son was sleeping and would be fine. If he started to fuss or anything then we would leave. We had a 2 hour lunch. My son was great. He woke from his nap, had a snack, and happily gurgled away and played with the distraction tools (other people call them toys LOL!) I brought with me. My son was invited to come back to the restaurant any time I felt like bringing him. By the same token, I know that sometimes you have to take a child out of a place if he might be a big distraction from the event. When my son was 3, I had to leave my brother’s wedding ceremony because my son was in the beginning of a meltdown. In his defense, he had been pretty sick for several days before and was now on the mend. We had been away from home for the 8 days previously working on wedding details, and he became sick during this time. He started crying in the middle of the ceremony because he felt nauseous and thought he was going to get sick again. Poor kid. The only reason he got to go to the wedding was that his future Aunt had personally invited him and said that it wouldn’t be the same without him. We gave it a valiant try but it was just too much for him at the time. After the service, he went off with his grandma while Mom and Dad went to the reception. I wasn’t at your event so I’m not sure what happened, but I think that anyone who reads your blog would know that you love kids and that they are welcomed as long as they are in happy mode. I mean, you always have pictures on your blog of the babies and children you meet at your events. ALWAYS. If we don’t take our children to different events and places in public, how are they ever going to learn what’s expected of them and how to act? What’s appropriate or not? Sometimes as a parent, you just have to throw in the proverbial towel and leave the room till your kids get a grip on themselves. Other times, a word or 2 and a minute for the child to get it back together is all that’s needed for both mother and child to enjoy the event. I always thought that this was something that the mother and child had to figure out. There’s a learning curve involved here. I have to agree with a previous comment that most of the time, it’s not the kids I have a problem with at these sorts of things, it’s the other adults.

  352. Thank the Deity – someone speaks sense! I also breastfed and wore my babies and was haggard for about three years solid. I also have two lovely children and one who is lovely most of the time and Damian the rest πŸ˜‰

  353. I agree totally with everything you have to say on this, Stephanie!
    I would just like to say that I had a very unhappy experience when my lovely son was about 3 years old – he is diagnosed on the Autistic Spectrum (Semantic Pragmatic Disorder), but pretty much does not have too many problems with the whole socialising thing. I have always maintained that it was a good thing to expose him to all kinds of places and situations, as long as he did not get distressed and did not disrupt others (he never really has – he is now 11 and he is fantastic)!
    I really pushed it one day taking him to the supermarket – it was hot, we had been in the car for some time and I just needed to grab milk. My son was doing fine, and then he just decided that he couldn’t take it any more (now we all know THAT feeling in the supermarket)! The VERY MOMENT that he became distressed (he just kind of went stiff as a board and started to scream) I scooped him up and abandoned the whole idea of the milk and headed for the door. No way was I going to add to his anguish, or drive other shoppers crazy on a hot day with his screaming!
    I was JUST reaching the door when I heard a member of the shop staff pronounce VERY loudly to her colleague ‘if that was MY child, I would take him outside and give him a good hiding’…….
    I was APOPLEPTIC with rage!!! Needless to say, when we got home I phoned the store manager immediately to explain what had happened – he was truly horrified! He actually phoned me a week later to let me know that he had made his staff attend a meeting following my experience at the store, and making it perfectly clear that comments such as this to ANYONE were definately not appropriate.
    I continued to take my son to all the ‘normal’ places that kids go…..if you met him you would never guess that he is autistic (I have to say that his autism gives him some wonderful perspectives of situations sometimes that truly inspire me with awe – I am priviledged to have him as my son)! I also have to say that I NEVER made him remain anywhere that he was obviously distressed, or allowed him to disrupt others (I can actually count the amount of times he has ‘thrown a wobbly’ on one hand – I think that’s pretty damn good for any kid)!!
    Children ARE people………and being a mother is often a big challenge. Thank you so much for highlighting this issue – it needs to be talked about more often so that there is a little more understanding in the world!

  354. WORD.
    I’d go mad if I couldn’t leave the house a few times a week and go to be where there are other people over 7 weeks old. Of course, some of the same people who might complain about unhappy baby noises might just also object to public breastfeeding, which is a shame, because the best way to deal with the first can often be the second.
    Hey, extend your book tour to the UK and I promise I’ll bring you my sweet little pre-knitter Theo. And I promise I’ll take him home if it’s all too much for him.

  355. I’ve worked retail and had to tell some children to stop doing things that could cause damage to themselves (where were their keepers? and don’t they know that escalators draw toddlers like magnets?). And I’ve had to tell people to sit down and breast feed their kid anywhere they want to, (just don’t flash boob, ok?) and refer anyone with a comment to me. I’ll take care of them. Really.
    Children are people. But I bet my dog has more rights. Another project …
    blessings and peace, Pammie

  356. A couple of years ago, I took my 3 yr. old DGD to a children’s theater. The play was lovely, and the children got to sit around the in-the-round stage on floor pillows. At intermission, she inadvertently knocked over a display of plastic candy canes in the lobby. We were both rather horrified. One of the staff bustled over and said, “They make a much better noise if you do them this way,” and proceeded to pick them up, throw them in the air, and let them crash one-by-one to the floor, and then invited her to try. It turned a humiliating experience into a funny one.
    I love child-firendly!
    How could anyone who has ever looked at your blog or read your books assume that babies would not be welcome?
    BTW, I spend all day with teenagers. They are much easier when they are not yours.

  357. Thanks for reminding me of my favorite memory. My son, now 41, went everywhere with me. I can see him now in his Buster Brown sandals, a one piece John-John outfit, His Richard Scary BEST WORD BOOK EVER and his little suitcase of Matchbox cars. He would be at the front door, one under each arm and saying “I’m ready Mom.” From an early age he learned quiet behavior and took something to occupy himself. He got to go to a lot of places and see a lot of things many other children did not because he learned that. I am most upset when I see kids out for hours with nothing to do and being told to be quiet. Children are people too. They deserve not to be placed in situations that are beyond their tolerance. Please come to Virginia Beach, Virginia. We are a hot bed of knitters also. You would be very pleased with us!!

  358. I fly a lot (every week!) for work. I live in Orlando which means I am guaranteed when traveling to and from home a plane filled with kids going to or from visits to Mickey. I am also a mom of a 20 year old. I remember taking her on planes from infancy to see her grandparents. I used to be a nervous wreck on planes with her. I went out of my way to insure she would not cry (scream) etc. I keep that center in my mind and heart when traveling now, all these years later. And I make an effort to smile knowingly at a mom trying to calm a crying (screaming) child. We would all do well with remembering what that is like and maybe offer a smile or understanding look…

  359. I really enjoy going somewhere I know there aren’t going to be any children or babies because I like adult-only time. Sometimes I can’t stand the racket children can make whether its “happy” noises or not. That said, there are some places you do expect to see children and you have to suck it up. A gathering of mostly female knitters seems like prime child territory!
    ps. I’d like to say I find the generalised stereotyping of childfree people as child-haters as seen in some posts above rather insulting. Not that I am childfree – I just like a bit of peace and quiet sometimes. I can see why people that have been looking forward to a knitting group or event as their time away from their daily life are disappointed to have to put up with the same stuff that may have been driving them mad in their home life!

  360. Preach on, sista! My little one was a completely agreeable baby/toddler who never met a stranger. Last summer (due to some changes in her epilepsy meds) she totally flipped out and became like “velcro” – so I know where you’re coming from. With no family in the town where we live, we had to take her everywhere. Most people where understanding but we still got the condescending glares from some people – people who had NO idea that I’d had a 6 year-old clinging to my leg for 3 weeks. I’m MUCH more understanding of moms and their children when I see them in public now.
    PS – my great grandmother NEVER allowed them to be referred to as “kids” – only children. She said that a “kid” was a baby goat and she could clearly see that that child was no baby goat! What a great woman! πŸ™‚

  361. As always,a universe of balanced good sense and humanity from you, Stephanie. As the granny of a breastfeeding Klingon (see prev. Ellie and her pre-knitter Theo), I hope my daughter gets to go wherever she wants; she can use her own excellent good sense to withdraw from an event when the baby becomes difficult for those around her.
    Love your blog, your books and all the baby pictures. Come and tour the UK!
    And thankyou Tracey in Oregon for reminding us of Horton’s wise kind words ‘A person’s a person, no matter how small.’

  362. Thank you for all you’ve written on this topic, both in this post and others. Thank you especially for this:
    > If a kid isn’t ready to be without their mother
    > (or the other way around) …
    It’s rare enough that people acknowledge that little ones need their mothers – it’s almost unheard of for someone to respect that some mothers need to be with their little one(s).
    My latest little one (a month old today!) is why I won’t be driving three hours to see you in Indianapolis next week, much as I want to. She’d do fine at the event (I think) but the drive would be too much for her, so we’re not going.
    However, I may very well bring her as a toddler to the closest event on your next tour! (Maybe by then I’ll have had some success in teaching one of her older sisters to knit…)

  363. I missed all the kerfluffle that prompted this post–but I wanted to thank you so much for making it. My little guy is usually delightfully well-behaved, but even he has his days. It is hard mothering a baby and we need all the help we can get–as you so eloquently expressed. To read your kind and understanding words feels great even though I don’t think I’ll have a chance to attend an event of yours any time soon (live in a kind of rural area). I’ve been having a rough few weeks and reading this post has buoyed me up. It makes me think of the world as a friendlier, more loving place. Ditto most of your comments here.
    In thanks, I will tell you that all this talk of socks finally got me motivated and I started my first one. Damn! Now I understand! It truly is addictive.

  364. Quite right! I was a La Leche League leader for 8 years and along with breastfeeding being an empowering experience, getting moms (and their babies) to go out and about is also empowering. Everyone deserves to feel empowered.

  365. Amen sister! And I wonder if the person(s) who complained has actually read your blog? I mean, you’re a doula and aren’t you a LC as well?
    I brought my nursling to Austin when you were there and DH *did* take him out (not in the mafia sense tho!). DH and I were excited to hear you and DS was excited because of the echo in the church! He was too excited to nurse.
    I frequently NIP and KIP (often simultaneously) and I’ve never had a negative complaint. To me at least!

  366. Good for you! I don’t have any kids but I have lots of adopted nephews/nieces as-it-were and sometimes people do have to be reminded that children (*and* mothers with children) are people too!

  367. As one who had two Kling-ons, I applaud your comments! I took my kids everywhere (hence they now know how to behave everywhere!) with me and still do! That said everyone has their days and it is understandable from kids especially…from adults yelling into their cell phones, not so much!

  368. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was annoyed by a crying baby. If I ever hear a fussy baby, I just think, “Gee, glad it’s not mine!”

  369. Thank you so much for your comments! It’s refreshing in a very often un-child/ un-mother-friendly society to read something like this.
    I have to say that prior to spending time as a pediatric nurse, I had a much lower threshold on children’s noise making. Still didn’t get totally bent out of shape, but had a lower tolerance. Now? Toddler temper tantrums almost tickle me pink, especially parents aren’t giving into it (which is a good thing, but does result in a bit more noise) and happy children noises are a delight! Only peeve: children who have gone thus far without limits and are being general jerks to their parents or to the public space at large (ahem – 7 year old poking out my dog’s eyes b/c it seemed fun?) and parents still refusing to draw a line. And the fusses kids put up in public? Nothing compared to when they have to get something done at the hospital (try explaining chemo to a 5 year old!). It’s amazing how much perspective seeing REALLY sick kids gives you when looking at healthy, breathing, pink and active kids!

  370. I was once told by my pastor when I was mortified that my young son was loud in church ,” The only thing worse than hearing babies in church, is NOT hearing babies in church”. I think the same thing goes for knitting and most other events.

  371. Years ago I was a member of a very large quilting guild, who told me my son wasn’t welcome at the meetings, despite the fact that he mostly slept and nursed, in a sling. I had enough sense to step into the hall when he got noisy, but they didn’t care.
    The smaller local group, however, thought he was adorable, and loved to see him rolling around on the floor on a little quilt!
    I had no money for babysitters, and no way to leave him at home. I dropped my membership in the larger guild and saved myself all sorts of aggravation. As my mom always says, vote with your wallet!

  372. I didn’t read all the comments to see if anyone else commented on this, but, perhaps if you had a recording of your speach then people wouldn’t be so upset if they couldn’t hear all that you had to say. You are a very popular lady and, even as an adult, we get excited when you come to town and don’t want to miss a word of what you are saying. So when everybody else is laughing at something you said but you missed it because somebody in back of you was singing something throughout the whole talk or talking on their cell phone, it does get annoying. Sorry to sound like a curmudgeon. Perhaps you could have one of the talks recorded and have it in your blog some way. I am not a computer person and don’t know if this is possible but it is a thought. This is just a constructive comment and in no way should be taken as an attack on people.

  373. I was surrounded at the Portland event by knitters of all ages, as well as a delightful number of babies, not a single one of whom was in any way a nuisance. There were also a fair number of young children, who were beautifully behaved. Cannot imagine who might have found anything to complain about!
    It was a super evening. I just wish I’d been able to stay and show you my first pair of socks (which I finished while waiting for the event to start) and give you the bar of “Emergency Chocolate” I brought. Soak up love from your family, and I hope you get some sleep. Babies, as well as knitting, rule!

  374. I wore my son until he was three. He was part of my daily wardrobe–just like putting on my shoes or underwear. He was my partner. He went everywhere I did–meetings, business trips, you name it. He was colicky. He didn’t sleep through the night. He was exhausting. And, I wouldn’t have changed him for the world.
    We have both learned a lot in ten years. A lot about ourselves and acknowledging the unique needs of another person.
    He is the child that teachers know they can seat with quirky children–the buffer. But he is much more. He is attuned to individuals and their unique needs. He was a gift and he is a gift…

  375. Amen . . . as the mother of a son who is autistic, I have been in situations where “if looks could kill,” I would have dead, over and over again. While I always try to be as gracious as possible there are times I would love to teach the “glareres” a thing or two about compassion. But I try to be a better person than to blow a gasket . . . really I try.
    AND what are you going to do with those washcloths??????? I can’t wait to hear!

  376. As a breast-feeding mother with a baby and a rambunctious toddler i can see both sides here. I take my daughters everywhere and feed the baby any time and any where that she is hungry and any one who doesn’t like it can bite me.
    On the other hand, if they are noisy we leave. It’s not fair of us to, for example, ruin the meal of somebody else who is spending $50 of their hard earned cash for a relaxing evening out because my toddler is having a melt down that macaroni and cheese isn’t on the menu (every mother has had that moment) or the baby refuses to stop crying.
    It is all about appropriateness. Kids laughing and running around at the playground. Wonderful. Kids laughing and running around in church. Not acceptable.
    Most parents obey social etiqutte, but some have absolutely no control over their kids and the rest of parents are punished for it because our children are no longer welcome in many places due to the number of brats running wild. But there are also the people who glare at flawlessly behave children simply for the fact of their existence. It eats me alive that there are restaurants where my girls aren’t welcome because some oblivous parent that dined there previously allowed their kid to play ring-around-the-rosy at the table.
    If everyone was a little more corteous of everyone else in this world we would all be better off.

  377. As a former pediatric nurse I can promise you that caring even for extremely ill children is a walk in the park compared to dealing with their parents. I was always thrilled to hear a happy noise. Most of us ” grown -ups” need to get a grip.

  378. I am the oldest of seven children. People would stare when we would enter a restaurant as a family. Many times, however, others would approach my parents and compliment them on how well behaved we were. You’ve got to take children out in public in order to teach them how to behave when they are in public. (The younger child having a bad day was removed by mom or an older sibling if needed.)

  379. a few days after my dad died, i went through a door and neglected to hold it open for a person coming through the other way. he made a terribly nasty comment. he didn’t know that i was shattered into very, very small pieces.
    once i was falling apart at costco; a combination of exhaustion and a velcro 3 y/o. a lady gently touched my arm and i felt the stress flow from me.
    i try to keep these two things in mind when people are being people, or babies are being babies. we just don’t know what’s going on with them, or what they might need.
    a little kindness. some compassion. it goes a very long way.
    i would suspect that after reading this post many, many people have a little more of both.

  380. Thanks for bringing this into the light of day – and happy applause for your position honoring the rights of little ones and their caring parents. We need each other; even each other’s “noise”.

  381. Most kids are pretty well behaved for their age. Most parents do a pretty good job of keeping their kids in check if they get seriously disruptive. Babies all cry at some point, not always for an obvious reason and there’s nothing anyone can do to prevent that. Small children have naturally enquiring minds which make them chatty and low boredom threshholds that make them whiney. As long as they’re not exceeding a reasonable decibel level, I think we should just accept that as natural behaviour.
    However, I don’t think other people should be asked to tolerate unlimited bad behaviour, just because Mum and Dad fancy a night out. In particular, parents should recognise that what they think is cute or appealing could be hugely annoying to other people. There’s a difference between a child playing or making a noise on its own or with its family and that same child actively bothering someone else. Parents need to be more watchful and ready to intervene if they see that their child is upsetting someone. It’s very distressing to have a small child cut your knitting to pieces while playing with scissors stolen from someone’s bag, then be told you can’t expect better of a four year old. Or find you are expected to have a total stranger’s toddler sitting in your lap all the way through a movie, because his mother wants a break. Or have someone’s small daughter start screaming because you won’t let her have your sharp and dangerous rotary cutter. Or not be able to hear your small nephew’s one and only line in the school play, because a small child in the audience has been screaming incessantly for 10 minutes, ignored by her parents. These are just a few things that have happened to me. My friend has lost her hair due to chemo. How many times has she been hounded by children who demand to know why she’s bald, doesn’t she think it’s ugly etc etc, without their parents intervening at all. There’s a difference between innocent curiosity and plain bad manners. Children need to learn that adults have feelings too.
    It’s worth remembering too, that parents are often very exclusive themselves. I am routinely cut out of conversations between parents. They assume I am ignorant, because I am childless. It’s surprising how many friends stop inviting me and other childless people to their house once they have children, except when they want a free babysitting service. When it comes to social invitations, they only invite other parents.
    It’s common nowadays to see “families only” special events at parks, libraries and other public amenities. Parents are actively seeking to exclude non-parents from public events. Why is that? Do they think we are all paedophiles or abductors???
    Perhaps society has shifted and children are not such an integral part of our lives as they used to be. However, I think the reasons for that are as much to do with the parents as with other people.

  382. WOW-can you please send that post to The New York Times and a few other publications?? I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this post. I “gave up my career”(and people point that out to me whenever I am somewhere with former colleagues) and was asked, in front of my 2 children who are now 10 and 8 “if I was doing ANYTHING these days?” Aargh. Of course the children were completely ignored/not acknowledged. What does this mean about our society in general? My children were both exclusively breast-fed and they still go with me many places. That’s called life. Simply put, children need alot and we need to do our best by them. I do have to say, I took them to Italy when they were 4 and 6 (college reunion) and they were treated like sensient beings the whole time, including one dinner where the 4 year old had had enough pasta and wanted to stand up and look around, so the waiter took him out the front door of the restaurant and let him watch the backhoe digging in the street so we could finish our dinner(and still see him through the window). Better yet, the backhoe operator offered(when we came out) to let both boys get in and see how it worked. There’s a lesson for everyone-

  383. So many well-deserved kudos for you, Steph! I have one thing to add, which I really haven’t seen in the posts up to now:
    As with any gathering where you are the hostess, you (and the facility) get to decide who is welcome or not. If there are no signs stating an age limit, then babies and children are welcome. Period.
    Also, as the wife of a pastor, there is no better noise during church than the joyous noise of children!! From baby coos to toddlers learning prayers (or shouting Amen at odd times) — they remind me of how much we are all loved.
    BTW – your new book is GREAT!

  384. While I think it’s sad that you felt you needed to address this issue I think you did so in a really lovely manner. My children are 3 and 1, and I nursed them both for the full year (exclusively for the first 6 months) and recently decided to be a SAHM after my one year mat leave ended. I do try to take them with me when I feel it is an appropriate environment, because I do need to get out once in a while and try to do something I enjoy too (like eating out, for example.) However, I disagree with some of the “children should be allowed *everywhere*” type of comments… I think it really depends on the children. Some are quieter and others are not. Some are more active, others more laid back. Mine are both pretty quiet and don’t run about too often but they still have their moments. I try to take them with me to places where I think they will cope well and will not interfere with other’s enjoyment of the activity. If they become unhappy, loud, or rambunctious I remove them straight away, sacrificing what I wanted to do. I feel that it’s part of my decision to be a parent, oftentimes what I want to do comes dead last. Not always fun, but the way it is. I don’t think all places are kid-appropriate and that parents should keep in mind that although children are definitely people, they are still children and can’t, and shouldn’t be expected to behave as miniature adults. I take my children to some (family-friendly) restaurants because they generally sit quietly and color and eat their meal, but we don’t linger for dessert or stretch them thin so they stay well behaved. I would never bring them to an upscale restaurant, because I don’t feel that is appropriate for them regardless of how well behaved they usually are.
    On the other hand, I have been at the receiving end of many negative looks and reactions from people just *entering* an environment (i.e. walking in with the family to our waiting table) because I have brought my children out to dinner. This is before we’ve even sat down. Not all parents allow their children to act up, or will sit and ignore them as they get upset. I would just ask people who feel they have a low tolerance for being around kids to give them a chance before you decide to pass judgement, not all kids are loud and jump on restaurant seats and throw food around. Mine usually sit quietly and eat. And if they don’t, one of us packs up the offending party right away and removes them so the other patrons can enjoy their meal. Believe me, we get out for β€œdate nights” so rarely, I also understand what it is like having a screaming toddler beside you while you are trying to enjoy your expensive meal (that you haven’t been out for ALONE for 4 months!) – it sucks. But I just wish that all mums didn’t get lumped in with that experience. I think many of us, most of us, try our hardest to avoid that sort of scenario in the first place.
    Sorry so lengthy, this just really struck close to home for me. Thank you for your thoughtful post on the subject.

  385. I’m a faithful reader of your blog but have never left a comment before. However, this post inspired me. I’ve never seen this issue addressed with so much thoughtfulness and compassion. I wish I could print your post out on a t-shirt and wear it whenever I take my son out with me (he’s 3 and a half – as you said, absolutely full of charm, but also capable of turning into devil spawn without warning). Thank you!!

  386. Thank you for this post. No specifics here, but at an event of yours last year I was the unfortunate recipient of a snide comment pertaining to my baby being present. I am not the type to take things like that comment to heart, or even seriously. All it did was make me laugh and give her a lovely nickname when relating the event to my friends later.
    It’s very sad to me that it has become such a situation at your events that you had to devote an entire blog post. People need to chill the eff out – kids are a part of life, no matter where you’re at. Your readers should be grateful to have the opportunity to meet such a caring and compassionate person as yourself.

  387. Thanks, Stephanie! For all of us moms. You haven’t made it near Omaha yet, but I hope you do someday — and I’ll be there, maybe with my youngest in tow. She’s already 5, so I’m past those lovely, noisy baby days. I remember too well how hard it was sometimes to be out in public with toddlers.

  388. Good for you, Steph! Really. I had two children I nursed exclusively, no bottles, no pacifiers, straight to cups when they weaned and back in the early 70’s, a cloth diaper positioned just right, took care of everything … the difference between having dinner in a restaurant or not. As they got older we just became more and more flexible, but they always went with us for a couple of reasons: a) babysitters tend to cost money, and b) it was generally more fun with them than without. But we also knew that it’s really hard to learn how to behave in public if you don’t go into public. When things would get hinky, and they did sometimes, well, it’s easy enough to step out of a theatre, or a library, or a booksigning more for the child’s sake than anything. Parents should know when a situation is good or not good for their child. BUT happy noises at any age in a child’s life should never be frowned on. That’s just plain crazy! What is sweeter than a cooing baby, a babbling one year old who is seeing something for maybe the first time, a 2 year old who is putting words together. Duh.

  389. Inspiring words. I’m heading right over to CafePress now to make a shirt that says, “END SEGREGATION (of mothers and babies).”

  390. While I don’t have any children (though it is part of the plan), I will admit that I am often bothered by normal baby sounds. It isn’t that they are happening (and the happy sounds can be as hard to deal with as the unhappy sounds) as much as the pitch. I just have sensitive hearing.
    That said, I would never talk to someone about their child being disruptive, and if the volume/pitch were getting to be too much for me I would surreptiously move to a spot where I could still enjoy the event with a little more distance from the sound for my ears.
    (And believe me, I am already aware how much my sensitive hearing is going to be a problem when I have kidss. I believe that a pair of ear plugs will help deaden enough of the volume that I can still interact with them without being too irritating. We’ll see.)

  391. I completely agree. It is such a contradiction; here in The Netherlands they are promoting breast feeding for children; and if you decide to do so as mom, they treat you and your child as paria. It has become worse during the years ( my oldest is almost 18, my youngest 13 months), and as a result I rather stay home, where I can nurture my youngest in the comfort of home. It just does not feel right that children are often not welcome, and more a reason for me to stay where I am.
    I think it is good to have you as ambassador for the little ones!

  392. Crying baby in church… Mother gets up to leave with crying baby…Minister says “no need to leave, he isn’t disturbing me”…Mother responds, “maybe not father, but you seem to be disturbing her”.

  393. After reading this and your tour posts I cant believe that anyone at any of your events would complain about children at your events. Unless it is a kid who is old enough to know and be able to be quite for the alotted time!!!! You have posted endless baby pictures and obviously are a baby lover… who would appreciate there presence cause they are future knitters of course!!!!!

  394. I am the mother of 3 children all under the age of 5 years.
    Children are both inevitable and unavoidable.
    That’s the most I can say without getting on a terribly high soapbox.

  395. a couple of years ago my man and i were in sweden and were utterly struck by how matter-of-fact people were about children and the presence of children in pretty much every environment. the dads were doing as much of the child watching work as the moms. the kids were well-behaved, cute, and very much still kids. we LOVED it. we had both been reluctant on the having kids front because of the very segregation you are talking about, especially in america. it seems that having kids in the US these days implies (often, not always) a sens of entitlement and also a need for any EVENT to which children are brought to be ABOUT the children. i just don’t get that. i agree with you–that they are people, just like any other people. and it seems like if we would just teach them that, like anyone else, some events will be about children, and some will be about adults, then in the end–both the children and the adults would be happier. anyway–i am rambling. bottom line here is–boy, i so totally agree with you!
    as an aside, i am about to have my first baby any second, and i would pay good money if you were here and my doula. πŸ™‚

  396. Stephanie-THANK YOU! I literally just finished ranting about people being nasty about how mothers should just STAY HOME because their kids might possible annoy the childless. I can’t say thank you for posting this enough.
    Motherhood is hard and often pretty lonely and there is no excuse for other women (or men) who don’t know the struggle to act entitled and judgemental the way they sometimes do.
    So bravo!

  397. Standing Ovations from Germany!!!!
    “Happy children are noisy”
    Should give your post to our neighbours who never got children but want to explain how to educate OUR children πŸ˜‰
    Best I have EVER read about this thing.
    Thank you so much,
    Eva, Mother of 3 children 5, 3, 1,5 years old

  398. I am unfortunately one of those awful people who does not react well to all kinds of loud noises, especially screaming children. I have the worst problem with happy child noises (OMG – the shrieking!), probably because in my mind, there is absolutely no reason for any human being to be making that much noise unless he or she is dying. I have much more sympathy for sick, tired, bored, and hungry crying noises.
    But anyway, I resign myself to the fact that unless I want to stay inside with the windows closed and wear earplugs 24/7, there is a certain amount of this noise I must tolerate. The whole world is not going to accommodate my weirdnesses – just as the whole world should not have to accommodate people who do not teach their children how to behave in a civilized manner in public. Fortunately, there are not many of these people in the world. Unfortunately, the few parents that are negligent give all of the other parents – and their children – a bad name.
    There are definitely some ridiculous people who believe that small children should never be allowed in public, but there are also some ridiculous people who let their children misbehave in horrible ways and do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about it. It is such a torturous experience to be around these children that I wonder if maybe people who have had these bad experiences are thinking specifically about 1 bad thing that 1 child did 12 years ago and then attributing it to all children everywhere. It’s a shame that people do that, but I can totally relate.
    I mean, if someone has had a child throw meatballs at them in a restaurant, or had a child crawl into their public restroom stall and refuse to leave, they might be a little leery of kids in general. They might not be able to tell the difference between a well-behaved child and a holy terror at first glance – especially when everyone swears that *their* kid is a perfect little angel. They might make a kind of mental association, where as soon as they see a kid, it triggers that awful memory.
    But now that I’ve gone on and on about this topic, I’m glad that most people who have made the choice to have children are loving, responsible parents who do a good job of teaching their kids how to behave in public. So far, the number of good experiences I’ve had around children in public have outnumbered the bad, so I’m still giving them the benefit of the doubt.

  399. Overall I agree with you on this with a big HOWEVER…
    We can hope that parents will exercise reasonable common sense but unfortunately, common sense is often very uncommon and that, I think, is where I tend to have an issue. If an activity/event is within pretty normal times that aren’t interfering with the baby/child’s normal feeding/naptimes, etc. great…as long as the parent doesn’t get stubborn about forcing the child to stay despite showing clear disagreement about being there, being obviously overtired or overstimulated, etc.
    However, I don’t think there should be a carte blanche about some times. If I choose to go to a movie on a Saturday afternoon/early evening and it’s a family-oriented film (e.g., Harry Potter, etc.) I fully expect a ton of kids and by ME choosing to go at that time, I fully accept I may find those children distracting. HOWEVER HOWEVER HOWEVER, if I instead choose to wait and go to a midnight showing of that film, I should be able to reasonably expect no babies/toddlers there. Some parents don’t get that having kids does change some aspects of living. Midnight movies with the kids shows a lack of comprehension about that as well as a general lack of concern for their kids’ sleep needs.
    Taking a baby or very young child to the opera would be another example. While a baby screaming in a movie merely distracts the audience, same screaming baby distracts live performers as well and, as a former performer, is just as disrespectful of the artists as someone deciding to chat on their cellphone or not get up and leave the room during a coughing fit. Should children be exposed to great music? Absolutely…but there are times that are better than others.
    One of my best friends is an international-level soprano and she has a 1 yr old baby who is definitely a velcro type. She cancelled most of her bookings the first year and the couple she did, she wore the baby during rehearsals (where the baby was dead asleep) and dealt with a nanny during performances. Had the baby been terribly fussy during rehearsals, she would have either cancelled or just dealt with the nanny situation more. But again, it comes down to common sense and balancing what works best for the child as well as the parents and other adults, etc.
    To me, a gathering of knitters, unless they’re knitter-strippers or fetish knitters, whatever LOL, is what I’d consider family-oriented. It’s communal and one of those situations that help (hopefully) teach children how to be in public places.

  400. I disagree. Children and babies may be people too, but your average adult is not going to scream at the top of their lungs or talk loudly during a presentation.
    Children should be silent or left home with a significant other or babysitter.
    I chose not to have kids and I hate it when parents inflict their “little darlings” on the rest of the world, especially when it is an event where I pay money to attend.
    Parent are immune to the screams or so exhausted that they are oblivious to the annoyance their kids inflict on the rest of the world.

  401. I very much appreciated your post. I was planning to attend tomorrow’s WEBS event until my little guy got sick. He IS a velcro baby but I would have brought him anyway, because he loves gatherings of people and because mama needs reminders not to gnaw on sticks in the park.
    Every time I plan to take him somewhere I worry about other people’s reactions if he gets fussy…then I remember they’re adults and ought to be left to their own issues. He’s an infant and his issues are mine.

  402. I dearly love to see the wee ones in your photos, and as a former nursing mother who bitterly resented being told to take my child to the public restroom to nurse her, I can emphasize. (The ironic thing at the time is every other store in the mall seemed to have that blasted Farah Fawcett poster in the window at the time. Farah’s faucets were okay, but I was supposed to hide mine when I was, at least, putting them to legitimate use???)
    My only thought is that my poor mother would have totally freaked at the thought of taking a little baby into a mob like that and exposing it to germs from scores of strangers. I don’t have any problem with happy babies, but I do think mothers have to know their children. They aren’t all happy in a crowd, and if the little ones are distressed by the noise and crush, they need to be somewhere else. A baby is person, not a fashion accessory.

  403. THANK YOU!!!
    I am the mother of a 3-year-old, and another due within the month! I take my daughter almost everywhere, and plan to do the same with the new one. How else will children learn to behave in public, if they are never allowed to go there?!
    While her behavior at home can sometimes be described as that of demon spawn, she is generally well-behaved in public. (I’m not sure quite what that says about my parenting skills, and not sure I want to think about it too hard…) And when she is not, we don’t stay. It’s not fair to her, to me, or to anyone we happen to be around.
    And as far as other people’s children are concerned, I would say that there are far fewer ill-behaved kids in public places than there are inconsiderate adults! My evenings have been interrupted by many more cell phone conversations, pushy types who seem to feel that using courtesies such as “excuse me” apply only to children, and discussions loud enough to include all the patrons at the restaurant, than by misbehaving kids.
    Surrounded by so many lousy behavioral role models, is it any wonder that some kids’ behavior is a bit sketchy?!

  404. I came here to thank Steph and agree with the countless other posters who have offered up their communal child raising experiences.
    However I’m struck by the continuing shame-shaming and rudeness of others. Children should be silent or left home? Excuse me? If I were going to the ballet, the opera, or even an adult movie I’d agree that it is an inappropriate place for children to be. But a Knitting presentation from someone who was a LC and a Doula and places pictures (gleefully so) of babies and children at events on her web page?
    I’m sorry that my decision to have children and raise a family is so offensive to some. I’m sorry that the fact of my Three year old son who is still learning inside and outside voice is so irritating. However, I have just as much right as you or any one else to attend an event which has a kid friendly overtone to it. Provided I of course make sure if my son is not up for it or clearly causing a disturbance we leave.
    We were -all- children at some point. I dare each and every annoyed, irritated, condescending and autocratic complainer to tell me that they as children never screamed, yelled, laughed out loud or acted out in any way shape or form….ever. It constantly amazes me that people can so blithely ignore that they too have put people in similar positions at some period.
    I promise I will not take my son or the bun in the oven when it comes to the opera, ballet, or adult movies. I promise that when we are in restaurants that we will take every effort to make the situation contained and pleasurable for everyone and if it is not possible remove ourselves from the situation. I promise if there is a temper tantrum in the grocery store I will do my best to get out of the store as quickly as possible. I promise that I will be aware of the environment I am in and the way my children affect it.
    I will not however, stop going anywhere unless my children are silent. I will not however, stop going anywhere unless I have a baby sitter. I will not however, restrict myself and my family to an out of sight out of mind status simply because your choice in life is different than mine. Neither one of us are the center of the universe and neither one of us has the right to dictate the status of the public. I make it a point to be polite and friendly and helpful to every person I meet. I am doing my part to make our society and world a little brighter and nicer. I am challenging everyone else to do the same.

  405. I wish my husband (and father of 3) was as open-minded as you!
    I LOVE seeing pictures of babies being worn. I’m amazed that so many knitting moms are into babywearing, compared to the general population of moms (I RARELY see another sling in town!).
    Almost 8 years ago, I attended the Creative Needlework Festival in Toronto. I had my 4 month old velcro son with me, in the days before slings. When I signed up for the classes (months before), I totally didn’t think about my little babe, LOL. He was a little fussy, but not screaming, being held on my lap. The class was in a large room, with several other classes going on in the same room. Someone from one of the other classes complained and I was asked to leave. I spoke later with Lucy Neatby who had been the instructor of the class I was kicked out of, and she was rather surprised. She felt that the other classes all being held in the same room was a much bigger distraction. The next day, I was in another class, (son-less), and one participant started talking about the ‘lady who had the nerve to bring her baby with her’ to a class! I let her know that lady was me, LOL! The next brouchure for the festival had in bold “No babies or children under 12 years old in the classrooms”. I REALLY don’t think it was there when I had signed up, or maybe mommy brain just missed it, LOL.

  406. Bravo! Very well said (as usual).
    The bit about being a prisoner at home struck a chord – as the parent of a child with high functioning autism, I am now way less judgemental of parents whose kids melt down in public places. Noise is not always the result of parental incompetence and/or indifference. While I breastfed in public (ie. stores and park benches) without shame whenever necessary (and she was never quieter or happier than when nursing), I can count on one hand the number of times I have been to any sort of “event” in the last 8 years. Because I hate ever to inconvenience anyone and even if it is not a noise-sensitive event, the stress and humiliation of the evil eye generally far outweighs the benefit of getting out, and babysitters are expensive. I am grateful to the point of tears on the rare occasions that I am able to attend a public event with her where there is genuine understanding and tolerance.

  407. Thank you! I don’t have little ones any more, youngest is 6, but I took them with me everywhere. My children were velcro babies too.
    I am liking you more and more every day!

  408. This whole velcro baby is a bunch of crap. If kids are “individuals and people too” then why do they need to be strapped to your azz 24/7/365. Let them breath and be independent and LEAVE THEM AT HOME… so others can enjoy a function in PEACE. And yes… I do have kids and they are grown and have turned out fabulous.

  409. Glad to see you believe so much in your words that you’re standing behind them with a name and website frustrated.
    Wouldn’t it stand to reason if the -speaker and reason- of the event says something that the event goes that way? Maybe -you- should stay at home.

  410. I’m a little ambivalent on this one. I agree with you, Stephanie, pretty whole-heartedly. On the other hand, the ensuing posts seem to have taken what you said much farther than I thought you intended it. Of course children (and their attached parents) should never be relegated to their houses for years at a time. What boring kids and insane parents that would produce!
    At the same time, I am constantly amazed at the degree of entitlement some (*some*) parents seem to feel they have, purely as a result of having children. I’ve had occupied chairs taken from my table at restaurants without asking, my dog grabbed and tugged aggressively by little hands without parents batting an eyelash, screaming children allowed to give theaters-full of people a headache, kids encouraged to pull up the flowers I planted in my yard because it’s “so cute” for them to be carrying tulips around, and on and on and ON. Not once have I blamed the kids for this. They are kids. They don’t know better. But the parents? The problem seems to come when parents, who put their children before everything else (and should), expect the rest of the world to do the same (and we shouldn’t). In situations like the ones I described, when I have either addressed the parent or the child directly and kindly, the parent always seems to react as if I’m attacking them. But I’m not. I’m trying to establish the fact that my priorities are equally as important as the parent’s or the child’s. Think of it as consciousness-raising, not attacking.
    Cheers to those of you who recognize a difference between your priorities and everyone else’s. That sounds flip, but I’m being serious. You will be better parents and your children will be better humans as a result.
    My husband pointed out the other day that it seems some people are raised to be very aware of how their actions affect those around them, and some are not. As a member of the former group, I applaud and support parents who are doing their best to raise children with this awareness. And to those of you who fall into the latter category (with or without children), WAKE UP.
    That is all. πŸ™‚

  411. This seriously happened? Since having Sophia I have been made aware of this phenomena and have experienced it indirectly (in the form of dirty looks) but never actually had someone intervene. If they did I may have to remind them that the chance that my daughter and/or her generation will be caring for them as an elderly person is pretty damn high. Therefore, they may want to reconsider pushing the kids to the periphery for fear the “kids” may do the same with them when they reach their old obnoxious age. (Hells yah, I’m going to be old and obnoxious. If I wasn’t than what the hell is the point of having to wear a filter on my mouth for all these years?)
    What goes around comes around.

  412. Thank you again for your great words and opinions! I have a velcro kid who was also a velcro baby. He never felt comfortable in a sling, so I carried him for years and had the arms to prove it πŸ™‚ I also had him at a fairly young age and didn’t know any better than to not take him with us when we went to things. He saw his first IMAX film at 6 months, saw his first Shakespearean play at 2 years old (He still loves Twelfth Night), saw his first ballet at 4, has gone to upscale restaurants with us, and has seen several Broadway touring musical. We taught him what behaviour was appropriate for the situation and he acts like a kid when he’s with other kids and acts like a person when he is with other people. I love seeing families at all types of events, even if some of the smaller members seem less than enjoyed to be present. I believe that when I take my son to something I love, I’m sharing a little piece of me with him, just like when I play skeeball at the local roller rink and he is sharing a piece of himself with me.

  413. Boy, I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to be raising my child in Barcelona! Not only are people not bothered by our very excitable and vocal 10-month old, usually they are actually charmed. We even frequently get offers from neighboring tables or wait-staff in restaurants to hold her and entertain her while we eat. A big HURRAY for child-friendly environments!!!
    I never would have learned how to behave in public if my parents hadn’t taken us out and taught us (mostly by their good example).

  414. Long time lurker, finally posting a comment. For the record, I have no children, but several friends do and I have often gone out to public places with them and their little one/ones. Coffee shops, resteraunts, stores (including wool shops), movies (afternoon matinees), museums, etc etc. you get the picture. I have never had a problem with other people’s children at these places, I hope no one had a problem with me and my friend’s chilren.
    I would have a problem with noisy children at a serious adult movie (and I’ve been to some where noisy children were in attendance often late shows and totally innapropriate for kids), live plays or concerts (unless they were specially geered towards children), (and yes I have been to some of these meant for more mature audiences where the little ones were bored and disruptive and the parent ignored it).
    If something is child friendly or family oriented, more power to them, bring as many children as you want. But have respect when something is not and advertised as such. My friends usually do not get offended and totally understand that there are times when bringing the children isn’t a good thing to do.

  415. Thanks for this. I’m excitedly looking forward to meeting you at the I Knit London event in September, by which time the bump I’m currently sporting will be getting on for three months old. I may pop in a sling and bring along, or s/he may stay home, but it’s nice to be assured that we’d both be made welcome!

  416. I can honestly say that despite being without children, I agree with the vast majority of what you are saying. I have no objection to children at any event where the venue is appropriate (taking small children to rated R movies, for example, is in my opinion not appropriate). Happy noises will be fairly well tolerated by me unless it gets to the point where I cannot hear what is going on or unless I’m in a venue where I am there to enjoy the sounds of the event (in a book signing, if I can still hear you speak, I am not going to complain about happy noises. If I am at an orchestral concert and the small child next to me is giggling incessantly, on the other hand, I’m going to get annoyed. I am there to listen to the music, and said giggling would be disrupting my ability to enjoy the music).
    If I am paying to get into an event (such as a movie or a concert), then I will be HIGHLY annoyed if said event is continuously interrupted by anyone, child or adult. In that respect, I am not peeved at the age of the person, I am peeved at the fact that I have paid to watch a movie or listen to a concert, not listen to someone else’s child scream at the top of his/her lungs or listen to someone’s cell phone ringtone or listen to the half a conversation on the other end of a cell phone.
    When I was a small child, my parents would take me to just about every event they went to. And if I was disruptive, my parents would take me out just as quickly. I learned REALLY QUICKLY that if I wanted to stay out instead of going home, I had to behave within certain limits of behavior. And hence, I learned not to be disruptive at an early age. Yes, I still asked questions at a probably louder than acceptable volume, yes, I would periodically make noise, and my parents would react accordingly. I learned because my parents took me out. I have NO objections to a child being at any event where it is appropriate (many of my friends have children. I see many of them at many events, and there are some events where children are just not brought, period). I DO object when a child is making unhappy noises and being intentionally disruptive and the parents do nothing about it because they want to continue “enjoying” their time out, and in doing so allow their child to disrupt someone else’s enjoyment.
    I do not object to children being children. I object to parents not realizing the point when their child has crossed over from “cute, if somewhat distracting” into “pissing off the people around them”. Because my parents removed me from any situation where I was not behaving appropriately, I learned very quickly what was appropriate behavior. For any parent willing to attempt to bring a child, but just as willing to get up and walk out if the child misbehaves, I applaud you.
    Babies cooing or children giggling or asking questions during one of your booksignings? So not a problem. But I will ask that if a child is misbehaving and/or disruptive because they are obviously uncomfortable with an event, I do ask that parents realize just how much they are killing everyone else’s enjoyment, and remove the child. Then again, I also ask that people with cell phones remove themselves from a room if they’re being disruptive, so it has nothing to do with age.

  417. I’m a mother of four, three grown and one passed on now. We lived a family life of extended breastfeeding, attachment parenting, unschooling – we went pretty much everywhere with our kids. I believe that our consideration for others went along everywhere as well.
    If our children didn’t behave, we left. My personal rule was that I just didn’t take them if it was an event or activity that I wanted to enjoy with full concentration on the event. If my kids were with me, they were my attention priority.
    I have a pretty high tolerance for kid-noise of all kinds. I can tune out a great deal and be very thankful it’s someone else’s child making that noise!
    What I have low tolerance for is children allowed to run and crawl and climb all over the place, including into the personal spaces of others.
    Sometimes that can be dangerous. I was once waitressing and carrying a full tray of beverages. Thank goddess they were not hot beverages. A 4 year old was being allowed to crawl around the restaurant floor and I never saw him. My knee connected with his head and the tray and I went flying.
    The man whose suit jacket took the brunt of the milkshake and cola drinks was amazingly good-natured. (The restaurant paid the cleaning bill.) My knee hurt like crazy and I wondered how that child’s head felt.
    It must not have felt too badly because when I came out of the kitchen a bit later….there he was, being allowed to play and crawl around on the floor again….
    I do not like age segregation and think we’re a poorer society for it. I love to see families with attentive adults nurturing and caring for their children by bringing them to a variety of places and helping them with the social graces. It’s that small percentage of inconsiderate, oblivious adults that create the problems.

  418. Ugh, I hate to say it, but one of the times I felt most unwelcomed with my baby (who was around 20 months at the time and in my sling) was at a knitting book event here in the t-dot. No specifics here, I’m not pointing fingers. But every time he made any noises (and they were all happy noises) I would have people (and let’s face it, it was a knitting event, so they were all women) turn around and give me the coldest, meanest looks. I left in tears, and never went back to another event with that group. I hope the message gets out that happy babies are welcome, but I for one won’t be testing that again.

  419. THANK YOU! Your perspective hit the nail on the head. My 10 y.o. passionate-about-knitting daughter cried and cried when we were told she could not attend Madrona (because some child in the past was disruptive). So now I’m teary over your public children’s rights stance…

  420. Thank You! A mother needs to attend to her own needs as well as her children’s. And that one afternoon out a month is often what keeps the balance between almost sane and checking into the nut house! She shouldn’t have to choose the nut house because her kid isn’t welcome!

  421. I agree. Kids are cool, so long as they aren’t screaming and causing disruptions in the proceedings. And as much as the kid is the source of the noise, I’m more annoyed with the parents who are too wrapped up in what they’re doing to bother, or the ones who are PURPOSEFULLY ignoring their child to continue.

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