My husband and I sat in the front row nervously holding hands as the sanctuary filled with family and friends. In a few minutes, an emotional year of learning and planning would all come together as our eldest daughter chanted from the sacred scrolls to mark her bat mitzvah. Our two younger daughters, ages ten and four, were sitting with us. Well, the ten-year-old was sitting. The four-year-old was squirming around as she set up her miniature princess dolls. At least she wasn’t making too much noise—yet. Ten minutes into the service, however, she decided to crawl under the seats to look for the sparkly silver flats she’d immediately shucked when we came in.
“Here they are Mommy!” she yelped, flinging them excitedly in my lap.
“You have to sit down honey,” I whisper-yelled. “Your sister is about to start.” She gave me that classic you-can’t-make-me grin and took off up the main aisle. My husband and I looked at each other, exasperated, the decision made. I followed her out the double doors and took her down to childcare. She’d lasted all of 12 minutes.
I love my three girls and pretty much kids in general. That doesn’t mean I think they need to be included in every grown-up event. Children, especially little ones, can be distracting to both parents and hosts, whether it’s with boisterous laughter, a spontaneous game of chase or the request for a snack. It’s not fair of us to expect them to behave event-appropriately when they’re doing their best to simply behave age-appropriately. Plus, it’s stressful. So, I’m not offended when the host makes the “no kids” request. In fact, I’m kind of relieved.
You can read more on my perspective on why it’s okay not to invite kids to grown-up events — and the case for the other side by Debi Lewis of Swallow My Sunshine — on Brain, Child. Have an opinion? Leave a comment and join us on Twitter this Thursday, 11/5/15, at 1:00 EST for a discussion on this issue. Please remember to use the hashtag #braindebate.