BACKSEAT (NON) PARENTING
Originally published November 9, 2011
So I’m not entirely sure when this little phenomenon became a thing. I’d blame Obama (because that’s the cool thing to do, apparently, whenever something sucks), but I’m 99% sure it came about before him. Anyway, at some point, society decided they would take it upon themselves to deal with your kids the easiest way they can (usually to shut them up) rather than to let you actually parent them.
I think I can sum up the reasons for this:
*People don’t want to watch you go batshit crazy on your kid in public
*People don’t want to watch your kid go batshit crazy in public
*People truly think they know how to deal with your kids better than you do
*People don’t know how to mind their own damned business
I think it’s mostly the last one.
I’ll give you a few examples, in case you’re unsure what I’m talking about here.
A day or so before Halloween, I was at the grocery store with my kiddos. They had been whining, on and off, from the moment we entered the store. Ethan wanted…well, pretty much everything in sight. And whenever I’d say no, I would get my all-time favorite response of “but WHHHHHHHHHY?” I pretty quickly resort to “Because I said so.” Honestly, it’s just easier (even though I swore I would never use that phrase before I had kids) than explaining things overandoverandoverandoverandover. Actually, I alternate that response with “Because I’m mean.” Anyway, Ethan wanted everything he could see, and Logan just wanted out of the cart. Since I haven’t developed the ability to wrangle an almost-4-year old while holding a simultaneously-squirmy-and-dead-weight 2 year old and somehow managing to push the increasingly heavy cart, I would also say no to him. This resulted in my equally favorite response of “why NOOOOOOOOOOT?”
So you can imagine how great a mood I was in.
Well, by and by here comes this employee (wearing a “pea pod” costume…in the produce section – I couldn’t make this up if I wanted to) with a bucket of candy. She turns to the boys and, before I can stop her, asks if they want some candy. I had to pause so my initial reaction of “what the effing hell is wrong with you, you stupid cow?!” could be controlled. I simply looked at her and said, “Not right now, thank you.” At which point she (stupid stupid cow of a woman!!!) says, “Would you guys rather have some tattoos?” So, I very calmly said “No, thank you” (believe what you want, I actually said that) and walked away.
Because clearly, when my kids are acting like total assholes, it’s the perfect time to give them treats. Reward them for this behavior, by all means! Same goes for you, bakery cookie lady! Just because I have to walk into your area to get bread does not mean my kids are in need of a cookie. Seriously.
Actually, after this incident, another lady looked at me and said “Maybe she should ask Mom first, huh?” SOLIDARITY!!! Thank you!!! Oh, and by the way, candy-lady, you made the rest of the trip super-awesome.
Our first attempt at getting “professional” photos taken as a family was 2 Christmases ago at Sears. Ethan was being…2. Wanting nothing to do with pictures. He was crying and carrying on, as 2 year olds will do. No sooner had I finished saying the words “Can we hold on a minute while I deal with him?” than the supposedly well-meaning assistant shoved an unwrapped tootsie pop into Ethan’s chubby little fist.
Sooooo many problems with this scenario, where to start?
1.) My kid may have allergies, diabetes, whatever (he doesn’t, but that’s beside the point). You have no idea.
2.) My kid may not be ready for hard candy (he was, but that’s beside the point). You have no idea.
3.) We may be totally against giving candy to our kids (we’re not, but that’s beside the point). You have no idea.
4.) If I take it away, any chance of salvaging this photo shoot goes out the window. If I don’t, every picture will have a sucker in it. Exactly the way I wanted to remember this Christmas!
5.) Do not reward my child for being a brat. (Yes, he’s only 2, but just because his brattiness is understandable doesn’t make it any less bratty.)
Ethan was at the dentist. At first, they had him go back without me – thinking (logically, actually) that if I wasn’t there, he’d just cooperate. It actually works in theory, but this time he was not having it. Total meltdown. So I went back and sat with him in the chair. He still wanted nothing to do with this “cooperation” nonsense. Would. Not. Open. His. Effing. Mouth. However, rather than allowing me a moment to get him in the right mindset, they were just in his face with “Come on, buddy, open your mouth. Just a little? How about now?” And finally, we were sent home with a “Well, lets try in a few weeks.” Oh sure, I’ll just take some more vacation. I have plenty. Or, you could give me ONE FREAKING MINUTE to calm him down.
My sister was dealing with my niece having a bratty moment when she was at a gas station. The attendant actually came out and started trying to confront my sister about the fact that she was parenting her child in public. Apparently, he saw my sister smacking my niece’s leg down from where it was repeatedly kicking the seat/window/door and telling her off, and decided that my niece was being beaten and that he needed to intervene. My sister was not polite with him, to say the least. But she was far nicer than I would have been.
The moral of these stories? Butt out. You have no idea what’s going on with my kids. You don’t know how to deal with my kids. It’s not your place to “save” them from basic parenting. It’s your place to shut up and mind your own damned business. It’s your place to give me ONE FREAKING MINUTE to get them back in the mindset they need to be in. It’s your place to quietly ask ME if they can have a treat, and politely leave if I say no. It’s your place to chill out, because I don’t need a backseat parent. I’m doing just fine, thanks.