Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 16-08-2011
Just when I thought I was fresh outta food for fodder, I met a perfect stranger who inspired the perfect blog, mildly titled “Mind Your Own Business.”
Today was Ravioli Tuesday. It’s this tradition that DJ and I have every second day of the week. We go to swim lessons, and then stop by a local pizza joint to share a plate of raviolis that even my Uncle Guido would approve of. We’ve been doing this for several months now – which is only a semi important detail, and only because it means that the restaurant staff knows us well, and thereby DJ feels right at home in “her booth” by the window.
Today was actually a really good day. Right after DJ’s swim lesson, she noticed a group of ducks swimming in the nearby sewer….um, I mean, creek? Anyhow, this little highlight was enough to curb her hunger pangs long enough to make our wait for the hot raviolis totally bearable. She was happily sipping on her ice water, and making conversation with anyone who’d listen. I was uncharacteristically relaxed, as I was feeling super proud of her manners.
Toward the end of our meal, DJ announced, “Home, mommy.” This meant that she had reached her limit, was ready for nap, and signaled that it was time for a to-go box. Without whining, or throwing anything even resembling a tantrum, she climbed down from her booth, and began making her way toward the door. I asked her only once to come back to mommy, which she did, when a woman chimed in from across the restaurant.
She said, “Well, there’s a strong-willed kid.” I looked up at her and smiled. She said, “I’ve been a preschool director for 25 years. I can spot a strong-willed kid from a mile away.” I politely replied, “We call it ‘independent,’ and while it can be challenging now, I know it will serve her well in the future.” Touché, right? Wrong. She went on to say, “Well, we call it ‘problem-child.’ I can tell by her eyes that you have a 24/7 job.” Um, don’t all parents have a 24/7 job? Furthermore, lady – what are you basing this on? Your 25 years of experience has shown you that a child anxious to take their self-appointed nap is problematic? I turned to walk away, when she inquired, “Is she your only child?” “Yes.” “Oh yes, I can tell by the look in her eyes that she thinks she’s the only one…..” There you go with that “look in her eyes” garbage again, lady. Perhaps you should leave your preschool gig and open a Palm-and-Eye Reading shop along some questionable stretch of El Camino. (How’s that for an unsolicited opinion?) And, I’m curious, what exactly is the ‘look’ of an only child? Maybe she gets it from me since I’m also an only child. Like problem-mother, like problem-daughter.
Obviously, no further words were exchanged. Mostly because I’m a great mom, and my child is nothing short of sweet and amazing and nothing good could have come out of me continuing to engage in conversation.
On our drive home, I wondered what gave this woman the right to share her very negative opinion of my family? I wondered if her experience alone should have made her appear as an authority figure, and that I somehow should’ve appreciated her insight? I wondered if I was overreacting to be so offended? Should I have gotten in the last word by dropping some knowledge on this old bitty about how to offer words of praise rather than discouragement?
Here’s what I’ve decided to be the bottom line : Parenting is hard work. Raising a wonderful human being is the biggest responsibility in the world. Being a good mother or father means questing yourself, your judgement, your decisions, your sanity – at least a dozen times per day. And just when you are having one of those rare moments, when everything is under control and the stars are aligned and you are thoroughly enjoying the company of your two year old (which, let’s face it – is a major feat), all it takes to shake your confidence is the hasty opinion from some outsider. Unless me or my child are causing harm to you or your child, OR, you wish to offer a compliment, I’m sorry to say it – but mind your own business.
Of course my daughter has her moments – she’s two. What two year old isn’t “strong-willed” at times? In fact, I share most of our bad-behavior stories here because, well because two year old shenanigans are entertaining underneath how exhausting they are. However, just because my kid is developmentally doing all of the rebelling that she should be doing, does not make her a “problem child.”
It’s one thing to offer empathy to a parent who is clearly struggling to get through the moment, it’s another (and unacceptable) thing to pass judgement based on three minutes of observation. You’d think a seasoned preschool director would know that toddlers are schizophrenic.
Offer encouragement, people – or you just might get called out in a public forum for ruining a perfectly good Ravioli Tuesday.