There are certain events that we expect to enjoy without fearing that they will be punctuated by an obnoxious interruption. Take, for example, going to see a movie at the theater, or taking mom out to a fancy, overpriced meal, or flying on a plane; in each instance, we step out of the boundaries of our comfortable USC bubble to experience what we hope will be a pleasant outing.
Then a high-pitched shriek pierces the air, followed by the inevitable wailing cry of what we can only assume is a human child — for no other object yet known to man is capable of creating quite as much noise on so little fuel. A quick turn of the head (along with a glare for good measure) confirms that, yes, indeed, another inconsiderate family has chosen to cart along their unruly offspring in a doomed attempt to re-establish a normal life in the company of regular society.
Society, however, does not particularly care for these parents’ company in return; at least, not as long as they come attached with this new, incredibly vocal cargo. I could do without the attention-seeking two-year-olds pulling on their flustered mothers’ split ends, or the four-year-olds who scream incoherently as their stressed fathers try to rationally explain to them why they have to eat all of their food before the pretty waitress will bring them dessert.
Unfortunately, there are not very many restrictions in place to prevent the potential presence of these newly-formed little people in social arenas. Children are allowed almost anywhere their parents wish to go, and the mere suggestion of forming limitations would be enough to start a yuppie riot.
Indignant parents need to recognize, however, that taking on the responsibility of raising a helpless being comes with certain undeniable constraints. Parents: Life as it was, pre-baby, is no more. Say goodbye to your social life and let the rest of us unattached individuals enjoy our trips out on the town in peace.
We are all supposedly programmed with a baby-loving gene -— it is in our DNA to find large eyes and big heads cute so we will be inclined to protect our young in their most helpless stages. Our society raises females in particular to believe that we should all have a maternal instinct of some sort, because having children is an automatic stage of growing up. Once you leave college, get a job and form a stable career, what else is there to do but move into a real house, have a kid and wait to get old?
Some of us, however, fail to possess the baby itch. We do not find their smell appealing, and we think the way they stare at us without blinking is more than a bit unnerving. For us, the appearance of a child is enough to make us cringe in anticipation of the cacophony of noise that will inevitably erupt from those tiny but strangely powerful lungs.
Most students are too young and too ambitious to even remotely consider having children enter their lives at any point in the near future. But the pregnancies will eventually start to arrive, though they may sometimes be rather unexpected surprises, and we will all have to get used to the many ways our social lives will be affected as a result. Some of the requisite adjustments are going to be harder to accept than others, but a good rule of thumb in determining whether or not an activity is permitted with the accompaniment of a child should be this: If a tantrum is likely to cause a major disruption at some point, then it is time to give the babysitter a call.
After all, a screaming child at a sit-down restaurant could ruin someone’s proposal dinner, the movie that some fanatic fanboy got dressed up for because he has been marking down the days until its release or the only blessed period of rest in which a tired traveler will finally be able to sit down and get some sleep before picking up his suitcases once again. Child-friendly airlines should be established to cater to those parents who have already resigned themselves to eating solely at fast food restaurants instead of enjoying fresh pepper and wine at their favorite steakhouses — in other words, we need to help make the transition away from new parents’ former social lives as easy for them as possible.
In actuality, the wide range of exciting new, kid-approved social realms should encourage parents to venture out into unexplored spheres of amusement with their beloved offspring. Indeed, they can now fully experience the joys of Disneyland in ways they never did before. And, of course, these weary young adults can still go out as they once did, back into the old territories of uninterrupted diversion — just as long as they leave their kids at home.
Amy Baack is a senior majoring in cinema-television production.