Over the holidays, I had to go to the drugstore to have flavor added to an antibiotic. My oldest had an ear infection, and the medicine tasted absolutely awful without it. I brought my youngest with me (he’s three) and, like all toddlers, he was more interested in attempting to explore his environment without Mom than standing in line with her.
To minimize the potential damage, I picked him up for a while. My arms and back started complaining, so I put him back down and held his hand. This act was interpreted as an invitation for him to act “boneless” and hang limply from my arm. Exasperated, I mention that maybe I should have left him at home.
Here’s where the fun begins.
A woman waiting behind me says, “Let him go, Mom.”
Is she talking to me? I think she’s talking to me, but who is this lady?
“Let him go. He’s controlling you. He needs to know that you’re in charge.”
Yeah, I know that, lady, but I’m freaking tired right now. I was up late reading, I have a massive headache, I look like a pink panda bear because the toxic black mold growing in our attic that was stirred up by our construction caused an eczema flare-up on my face that still hasn’t cleared up after five weeks, my husband has been blasting Motley Crue while painting the kitchen and master bath over the past three days, and I am standing here waiting for the pharmacist because getting my seven-year-old to take the nasty antibiotic that I brought here to be flavored has been about as easy as stuffing a greased pig into a skintight wetsuit. I am *really* not in the mood for you to tell me exactly what is wrong with my parenting technique at this precise moment.
I don’t know what possessed me, but instead of ignoring this Parenting Guru, I turn around and give a weary smile. Rather than let it drop, Madame PG took my gesture as an invitation to
offer sympathy publicly critique my parenting method.
“I raised five boys and they all salute me. You have to let them know that you’re in charge. If they come shopping with you, they need to know that they have to behave. My boys knew that if they misbehaved while they were out with me, they wouldn’t be allowed to come with me the next time.”
Blah blah blah, I’m the best mother ever, you suck, blah blah.
She continues in a stage whisper: “He’s what, three, right? They’re smart. They know what’s going on. He needs to hear you and me talking about this so he’ll know what’s acceptable.”
Blah blah, listen to my advice because unlike you, I am an awesome mother, blah blah, me Me ME.
OMFG this woman would not. shut. up.
Did I mention that this woman would not shut up? She kept yammering on and on about how you can’t let your kids know that they’re pushing your buttons or that you’re annoyed or exasperated or, I don’t know, human, and that you always have to keep one step ahead of them. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her daughters-in-law. Can you imagine having to hear this diatribe every single time you visit your in-laws? Holy crap, I don't even know this lady and she just started spouting parenting advice. Imagine having to hear this from your children’s grandmother every freaking time you see her.
So what did *I* do?
Unfortunately, I totally suck at situations when I’m put on the spot. I did nothing but mumble stupid shit like “Yeah, you’re right,” and “Oh, I know, I’m the mean mom.” Just reading them is making me cringe at what a complete, spineless, jellyfish wimp I was.
I would love to go back in time and relive that little exchange and instead say something like:
“Look, you raised five boys, right? You’ve got two on me; I have three. And yours are grown, so you’ve been there, done that. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that your comments are well-intentioned, but I really do not appreciate that you, a complete stranger, are critiquing my parenting not only in front of my child, but also in front of all these people.”
Nah. Scratch that. Let’s go all crazy-ass-bitch on her with something like this (keep in mind that my three-year-old is still at my side; expletives have been removed):
“Ma’am, how I raise my boys is none of your business. And if I were your daughter-in-law and you did this to me in public, I would be pissed off enough not to see you for a long while.”
And then I would whip out my iphone and take a picture of her CBF*. Me for the win!
*Cat-Butt Face – you know, that look someone makes upon hearing something unpleasant; it looks like s/he just sucked on a lemon