Just put ’em in a box and be done with it

Yesterday in my feed reader I saw these articles one after the other:

1) 5 Places NOT to Take a Toddler (Rants from Mommyland)
2) Less Outdoor Playtime for Preschool Girls (NYT’s Motherlode)

Go ahead and read them both. I’ll wait.

Right, so you’ve got one article – which I almost think has be a joke – saying that you should never bring your child ANYWHERE EVER. Seriously, she lists the pediatrician’s office and the library as places that should remain child-free. I can almost understand the library argument IF she were referring to the adult section, but no, this is the kid’s section she’s talking about. And the ped’s office? I ASSUME she means siblings here, and what, you’re supposed to get a babysitter every time you need to bring your other kid for a checkup?

Then you’ve got the other article, which is all YOU ARE RUINING YOUR GIRLCHILDREN BY KEEPING THEM INDOORS (I’m paraphrasing). Apparently the parents of boys are 16% more likely to take their children outside daily. O…kay. This is my favorite bit:

This is a statistic that comes with plenty of caveats. More than 80 percent of the children were in some type of nonparental childcare arrangement, and may have gone outside daily as a part of that arrangement. There was no information available as to the season during which parents responded to the question (one that many people would answer very differently in August than in February).

Yes: don’t trust this statistic, but LET’S TOTALLY TRUST THIS STATISTIC. Because “sometimes kids don’t play outside” doesn’t sound as link-baity as “girls are withering away to nothing while boys run amok in the streets.” (Again: paraphrased.)

The two articles side-by-side, though, pretty much exemplify everything you’re told as a new parent. Don’t bring your kid anywhere that they could bother anyone, but don’t keep them in the house, either. If they make any ruckus in public you’re creating a nuisance, but if you don’t bring them out into the world you’re coddling them. NO MATTER WHAT CHOICE YOU MAKE, IT’S THE WRONG ONE.

Here’s what I think: use your judgment. Bring your kid to the library, YES PLEASE, but don’t drag them through the reference stacks with you. Teach your child to use a quiet voice even in the children’s section, but seriously, anyone who is annoyed by the sound of children’s voices in the children’s section is a dick. (That doesn’t mean your precious snowflake should be shrieking and bopping the other kids with board books; again, judgment. Use it.)

And kids should play outside, YES, but let’s dial back the panic stats, okay? Parents don’t need to hear all the ways that they’re MAYBE POSSIBLY failing their kids. Encourage your children to run around, whether you bring them outside that day or not. Look, I just solved your problem. YOU’RE WELCOME.