August 3, 2009

Village Idiots

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.


kristen said...

I flat out refuse the car cart. I have at some point compromised most of the things on "will never do" list but now that one.

I can't wait for my sister to have kids so she will lighten up on mine. I can't say that I have ever had my parenting questioned by strangers (well there was that one scissors incident but I didn't like those women anyway) but my sister is constantly running after Caleb. "Get down". "No don't do that". "Slow down". I'm pretty sure if she could, she would put him in a bubble.

He is two and extremely active and loves to climb and I'm freaking standing RIGHT HERE and I'm not telling him to get down so WHY ARE YOU!?! Okay rant over. Back to your regularly scheduled comment.

I greatly appreciate strangers watching out for kids. I do it all the time but it can be done without calling a person's parenting into question. If you see a child about to be hurt yes take action. But if it is a child melting into pile of screaming goo in a store, give the parent a knowing glance, smile at the kid and go about your own business already!

Cassie said...

I dread "the car cart." My son is 15 months, so we're not there yet, but we will be soon. I think I'll probably just...NEVER put him in one so he doesn't know what he's missing. Those things really are unwieldy!

Melanie said...

I can so feel your daughter at 9 days old developed a hemangioma (strawberry birthmark) on her forehead, we were fortunate and hers didnt get huge or disfiguring, it just got very deep dark red and about the size of a dime.. one day when she was probably 3 or 4 months old (still in the infant seat) we were at walmart, and 3 yes THREE separate old ladies stopped to inquire what had happened to my baby. I couldnt be angry really, they all showed genuine concern... but it badly hurt my feelings that someone (let alone 3 ladies in different parts of the same store!) thought I had caused my baby harm. Since then I have grown accustomed to the stares, the questioning looks but I remember telling my baby girl that we had better get out of walmart before someone called DFS that day! People are just so ready to think the worst!

Anonymous said...

You made me feel like less of a bad mommy by calling yourself out as a screamer. I too am a screamer, there I said it. It doesn't mean I don't love my kids, or I am not trying my hardest. I just do it at a higher volume than some.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

I do appreciate that strangers are looking out for our kids. Really. But she refused to back down when she realized it was a mistake. Argh.

Good strategy! It works! However, you can look forward to your husband messing up your Best Laid Plans. Heh. :-)

Have I met you? Just recently, I had someone tell me a very similar story regarding her child's hemangioma. If I have not met you, then you are not alone.

It is sad that there cannot just be an assumption that a child gets an injury by PLAYING.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Sadly, my volume gets higher and higher over time because the kids have already learned to tune me out. Just like their father! :-)

CPA Mom said...

I am a screamer. Came by it naturally (child of a screamer). I have discovered after parenting classes that whispering actually works better. When I am remember to do it.

Dude, HATE the car cart. My kids are too damn big for it and insist on squeezing in anyway.

Julie @ The Mom Slant said...

It's a good thing no busybodies have tried to offer such unsolicited judgement-masquerading-as-advice to me because I don't think I'd be anywhere near as kind as you and your husband have been.

the bad daughter/sister said...

I don't know if it's fair to blame Hillary for all this -- I promise there have been busybodies for much longer. My older two were 5 and 3 when that came out and we'd had plenty of "helpful" advice. :-p

Some of the worst culprits though, were my mother and sister (never had kids) when we did the annual one week family vacation at a lake. My mom was usually fine, she saw the boys nearly everyday at home. But, she freaks out on this vacation, wanting to control all her grown children at all times and seemed convinced that my children were going to somehow break this fairly dilapidated, not any breakables, has been standing for 100 years house.

The two of them seemed to feel they were in a race to "correct" or warn or otherwise tell my kids what to do at every moment. This made me crazy, because I have pretty well-behaved, normal kids and I am really pretty strict. So, I either had to spend my week of relaxation yelling at them pre-emptively so that I didn't have to hear my mother and sister all the damn time or I had to listen to them make dozens and dozens of comments every day about how loudly they walked or how close they came to spilling their milk or or or or or

It was not a very relaxing time. Finally after my telling them repeatedly that *I* would discipline my children and that if they had a problem to tell me, and my husband making calm but pointed remarks about it, and the kids finally getting old enough to just ignore the remarks and wander outside or out of sight, it's gotten much better. Now they only annoy me, not the kids. ;-D

Melanie said...

Nope we have not met (but we could I am a KC gal! LOL)........but its possible I have told this story before perhaps in your comments, its always the one I think of first when I read about people judging or thinking the worst about others.... so I could certainly have repeated myself!

Kate said...

I'm a yeller - from a long line of yellers...

And it's funny that you wrote this today. My little sister was just telling me that her roommate was appalled after watching a funny video of my twin toddlers fighting with each other on my blog. She couldn't believe that we didn't "intervene" and stop their fighting. That our lack of consistent intervention would lead to behavioral problems. Blah, blah, blah. All of this from a 30 year old woman with no kids, no nieces, no nephews. Who has never had to pick a battle.

And I hate the car cart too. Although it conveniently holds twins.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

CPA Mom - your avatar fits! :-)

Bad Daughter/Sister - I just don't like the whole "it takes a village" line because I have seen it used as an excuse by others when they are butting their noses into others' businesses. Sorry - I should have made it clear what irked me about the line.

Melanie - Just know that you are NOT alone, God I cannot imagine what you have to deal with. I remember someone specifically TELLING me in PERSON. about their experience. It could have very well been over the weekend at BlogHer.

Kate - I purposefully try not to intervene too much in my kids' squabble, unless someone is getting hit or when it gets out of control. How else will they learn how to deal with disagreements on their own?

Olivia said...

It seems like to many people quote "it takes a village" only when they disagree on how you are raising your kids. But, when you need help (I'm talking anywhere from babysitting to better education, healthcare, etc) then it's everyone is on their own.

Melanie said...

Kelli, thanks for your kind comments, in reality my daughters hemangioma is but a small blip on my radar, luckily hemangiomas (in most cases) resolve themselves by the time the child is school age (and my daughter who is now 14 months old has had hers fade CONSIDERABLY) and of course she is beautiful no matter what (not that I am biased right?) I am so grateful to have two happy and healthy, not to mention gorgeous--(oops there i go again lol) kids, that its really not a big deal. Of course I wish that others would see her beauty FIRST and not wonder if she has been hurt, or pity her for her birthmark....but having a child with any sort of issue sure does teach us a valuable lesson.

D. said...

Blast the stupid car cart! My daughter has just started asking for it, and it drives me friggin' nuts.

I've mercifully had only a few minor incidents where people have stuck their noses in our business where their noses decidedly did not belong. Short of actual child abuse, it's hard to imagine why anyone would feel compelled to offer unsolicited advice/concern/tips/useless information/etc.

Anonymous said...

Dude. You had me at the Car Cart.

meno said...

There's a special place in hell for the inventor of the car cart.

Jan said...

It's not Hilary's fault. I still remember an obnoxious old lady telling me I had my child in the wrong kind of stroller and what harm I was doing to him. This was 29 years ago!

Goofy Girl said...

Okay, I must chime in on this. In advance, please forgive all my exclamation points. !!

People like "Kind, Misguided Lady" must be stopped! Just this week, I had some lady grab my 3 year old son by the hand in the grocery and start taking him to customer service. I was TRYING to teach him the lesson that "You Must Not Wander To Where You Cannot See Mommy". She TOTALLY ruined it. Then gave me a dirty look like I was doing something wrong. ARG! He was within 30 feet of me and about ready to start wondering where I was when....DRAT! Kind, Misguided Lady #2 says, "Where's your Mommy?" and he says (shrugging) "I dunno".

Now he thinks this is cool to "Be Lost" so he can meet Friendly, New People.

People. PLEASE!!!!! Parents DO know what they are doing MOST the time. PLEASE help us. PLEASE do not assume every child is lost! PLEASE. Sometimes we are trying desperately to TEACH!

Okay. Soapbox complete. Please resume regularly scheduled programming....

p.s. And the car carts suck. I feel like I am navigating an 18-wheeler through a car wash on the seldom times I am forced to drive of these crazy things. Definitely invented by a non-parent.

Gucci Mama said...

The car cart is an evil invention. I hate it. Can we blame Hillary for that too?

Oh, and the village? Had best stay the holy crap away from my children.


MommyWizdom said...

Congratulations, you're a free ranger (for kids that is not chickens) and you are stuck in a world of exactly that, village idiots!

I'm sorry you get so much flak all the time. I don't know how to make it better... It's only getting worse.


MommyWizdom said...

PS - Free chocolate might make you feel better...

Come enter my giveaway -


Bethany said...

I got lucky. Ebaby wanted to ride in the car cart one day, I didn't need much so I let her. After two seconds she climbed out because it smelled like pee. She hasn't asked to rid in one since.