Little did Hillary Clinton know that by making her It Takes a Village speech and writing a damned book about it, she opened a veritable Pandora's box filled to the brim with unsolicited advice for parents. Or even worse, filled with folks ready to crawl out of their rocks, wagging their fingers in unabashed judgment. Folks who feel required to take action when they see something happening with which they disagree. Regardless if it is a mere difference in opinion and a situation in which truly, it is none of their goddamned business.
We go to our grocery store about 2-3 times a week. I have been going to this same store for well over 7 years now. We know many of the employees' names and Arun could probably do a fair amount of the shopping himself. He definitely knows the precise location of his precious apples, Diego yogurt, macaroons, and lobsters.
The other day, we went there and I was going to let the kids walk with me. However, the kids wanted the car cart. You know the car cart, right? The cart that tries to pass itself off as a racecar, but only allows you to walk at the speed of a snail loaded up on Valium? Apparently, while I was out of town, the husband let the kids ride in the car cart. I loathe the car cart - it is unwieldy and we were there just to pick up a few items anyway. We were at the very start of the produce section and I turned around to get a regular cart because I quickly realized that Arun was melting into a puddle of furious goo and was not going to walk as long as there was a precious fucking car cart to be had. When I got the cart and went back to the kids, there was a lady standing near the kids.
And I knew where this was going.
Arun was in tears. Because he was not getting to ride in the car cart. Nothing else.
Kind, Misguided Lady: Are these your children?
Bad Mommy: Yes, they are. I was just getting a cart.
Kind, Misguided Lady: Well, he was SCARED. He's crying.
Bad Mommy: Actually, he is upset because he wants to ride in the car cart.
Kind, Misguided Lady: No, he was SCARED.
Bad Mommy: No, seriously. He just wants to ride in the car cart. We come to this store all the time.
Kind, Misguided Lady: Still, it was SCARY.
While it was great that someone was "looking out" for my kids - Really! Even though they needed no Looking Out For Whatsoever - this lady did not back down. All she had to do was laugh and say "okay". Instead, it was as if she had to prove some point to me. No matter that I was near the front entrance of the store.
It's like the folks who walk on the sidewalk IN MY OWN YARD where my children are playing and ask them, quite pointedly, "Where is your mommy?" even though I am in the driveway or in garage. Or the guy who told my husband "Good thing the cops aren't around." because my son was riding his low-center-of-gravity Big Wheel without a helmet. Or the folks who feel the need to discipline my child while I am in earshot.
Listen up. I am not a great parent, nay, I am average, at best. Anyone who reads my blog and hangs out with me on a daily basis knows that my wee site is just a Best of the Best Sampling of Ye Olde Parenting Methods. In Real Life, I have a short fuse and I am a Screamer. Patience is not my virtue and I am not in contention for any Parenting Awards anytime soon. No, make that "ever".
But I am not a bad parent, per se. And I am honestly trying to do best by my children in line with my life goals for them. Which is quite simply that I want them to be independent and not scared to explore their world. I don't want them to clinging to my pant leg or too scared to talk to strangers.
But my biggest problem is this:
Why can we not just assume that parents are just trying to do their very best?
Yes, yes. I read the headlines - Sucky Parents exist everywhere and knows no socio-economic bounds. However! In my own life, I honestly do not know a bad parent. Sure, I do not agree with 100% with everyone's methods, but I know of no abuse situations and I know that everyone in my life is just trying to their own personal best. Nothing that requires interference on my part.
I would just like the same.