Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mad Mondays: If Looks Could Kill Every Child Would Be An Orphan

I know it's Tuesday but I didn't get a chance to post this yesterday and you didn't want to wait another week to read it, did you? Just humor me.

Dear fellow shopper/diner/church goer, etcetera,

Get over yourself. When you give me the stink eye because my two year old is being a two year old I am not impressed, and since this is my second child you should know that I stopped being embarrassed by public tantrums 4.5 years ago. Your glare (which honestly you must practice in the mirror before leaving the house the way some people double check their makeup) doesn't  do anything to stop my two year old from whining, attempting to run down the aisle, or asking for a snack 800 times. In fact, you don't even exist in his world, because he's, you know, a two year old and you are a stuck up intolerant person. Does it hurt when you sit down? Listen, I know whining and crying and hearing the word, "no" spoken repeatedly at an offensive volume is annoying. I know you want me to remove my kids from public, which I promise I am doing as quickly, efficiently, and non violently as possible. I know you think it is easy to leave a fully loaded grocery cart in the middle of the aisle and come back at 9:00 PM when my husband is home and the kids are in bed not being unleashed on the poor unsuspecting public. I know you think it's easy to pick up thirty pounds of dead weight off the floor of the shoe department and disappear into thin air so as not to further interrupt you trying on 57 pair of stilettos. Try chasing a toddler in those puppies! But wait, you probably don't have to. I am making an assumption by your perfected "Children upset my Feng shui" look, your choice of footwear, and the fact that you are in the store with no child on your hip or food on your clothes, that you are not in the toddler phase of motherhood. Or you have a full time au pair. Although I am sure if you do or did have a toddler he/she would/will NEVER act like that in public because your kids are perfectly behaved at all times and in all situations. Mine were too. Then they came out of the birth canal.

Actually, my kids are pretty great and thankfully my five year old has passed the phase of public displays of crazy. Behind closed doors is another story altogether, but I promise not to invite you over. My two year old? Well you see he still doesn't care what people think of him. He too is typically pretty happy to tag along with Mom, but when he needs to express his feelings about some injustice such as not being allowed to throw everything that's yellow into cart, not only does your glare not bother him, it doesn't even exist. Sometimes I envy toddlers' ability to be completely oblivious to how they appear to others. Sometimes I wish I could be more like my two year old in that regard. Don't worry, I am not going to lie down on the floor of Target and wail, but don't think I haven't felt like it.

I get it. When kids are misbehaving we parents sometimes just need to remove them from the situation. As I previously mentioned, this may take some wrestling. I will let you in on a little secret: the mom or dad trying to reason with or remove the screaming, escaping, snack wielding toddler is not happy. Also, he or she notices the scene the child is making and your glare doesn't help. Just keep walking or even better, smile sympathetically. I have noticed men seem to be better at this. While I have gotten the evil eye from plenty of women, from men I am more likely to get the "better you than me" smile. This is not a stereotype, just my personal experience. Glaring is passive aggressive. Just stop.

I have to mention another more sobering aspect of this phenomenon. If you see a struggling parent with a running, spinning, crying, or yelling child who may even be past the notorious toddler years, resist automatically assuming that the child is misbehaving. You may be looking at a child with an invisible disability such as autism, and a heroic parent with unending patience.

We need to be each other's cheerleaders. The next time I see a mother fleeing the produce aisle with a kicking toddler under her arm or a wailing baby on her hip, I want to remember to tell her I've been there. Then next time I see parents standing in the back of church while their child spins around the vestibule, I hope I remember to say, "I'm glad your here." We are all guilty of making snap judgements, especially when we are tired and frustrated in our own lives. I know I have been guilty of getting annoyed too quickly, particularly while driving. "Why is she driving under the speed limit, I am already late! Maybe she can't see is well as she used to. Maybe she is being extra cautious and trying to hold on to her last bit of freedom. Or maybe she is driving to the doctor to receive test results. Maybe she already knows in her heart what the results will say and it is all she can do to keep her foot on the gas pedal. "He just cut me off and took that parking space! Didn't he see my blinker on? What an inconsiderate jerk! Maybe he has something on his mind and didn't even see me. Maybe he is meeting someone to interview for a job he really needs. Now, mind you, some people are just jerks, but many aren't. The problem with judgments is they are often quick and based on limited information. It takes less time and effort to judge someone than to walk a mile in their shoes. Unless they are wearing stilettos.

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