Lately I’ve had some interesting encounters while parenting in public. Let me rephrase that: Since my children were born I’ve had crazy encounters while out and about.
Most recently on a really crappy day, I was rudely told in a grocery store to teach my child to count apples somewhere else because I was “in the way”. (Which I was not, in fact, in the way at all.) From the time my daughter was an infant, in head-to-toe pink, I’ve been asked, “How old is your little boy?” or “Oh, what a strapping young lad!” REALLY?! Apparently pink and bows no longer let a person know that your child is a girl. At least not at my grocery store.
I’ve been informed that my child is going to fall out of the grocery cart and that I “should really make that kid mind”.
In the bank I was told to “keep my kids downstairs, this is a place of business“. (Granted that one was kind of deserved, but the rudeness was not).
While my sister had my kids, as well has her two daughters, playing at the park one day, a nice gentlemen was kind enough to take the time to roll down his window and say to her, “Wow. You look like you got your hands full.” Chuckle chuckle. Then he rolled up his window. No “Hey, do you need a hand?” or “Is there anything I can do?” Just unhelpful commentary from an unwanted peanut gallery.
What is the deal with people?! I understand the looks from people who have never had kids. I used to GIVE those looks. Parenting is a piece of cake if you aren’t one. What sets my hair on fire are the people who feel the need to comment/narrate/tell me what to do/point out what I’m doing wrong etc. Then there are those folks who just laugh. Nice. How the heck is that helpful? On some level, I do understand how comedic it must be watching my circus act/parade as we are on an outing, but please, I beg of you – keep your laughter discreet and to yourself. It doesn’t do me any good, and basically confirms the feeling that I am sucking at this parenting thing.
I read this article yesterday about parenting on Steve Wiens’ site (you can read it in its entirety here) that said this:
“Put your hand on their shoulder, look them in the eyes, and tell them that they’re doing a good job. Just don’t freak out if they start weeping uncontrollably. Most of the time, we feel like we’re botching the whole deal and our kids will turn into horrible criminals who hate us and will never want to be around us when they’re older.”
So today, I stopped at our favorite frozen yogurt joint (froyo if you are cool like my 4-year-old and my neighbor!) We were the only ones there. I was getting the kids’ toppings and saying the usual stuff:
“Don’t breath on the toppings.”
“Cover your mouth.”
“Wait for me, Mommy will do it.”
“Find a table and wait for me to bring it to you after I pay..”
Happy with their concoctions and spoons happily lapping up yummy flavors, the owner and I chatted for a bit as we ate. As we got up to leave she said this to me:
“I have to tell you. There are A LOT of kids that come in here, and yours are probably the most behaved I’ve seen. I can tell you work very hard at it.”
I wept. And I’m weeping a bit now as I write this. So much of parenting and life in general is flying by the seat of your pants and hoping you’re making the right decisions. After the crazy encounters we’ve had, this one was needed.
Thank you, Froyo lady. Thank you.
This tired mama needed that today!