Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"It Takes a Village to Raise a Child"

I know that I have willingly announced here on my blog that I don't know what I am doing half the time, but I try to fake it 'til I make it! But with the shear volume of unsolicited advice I get from strangers on a weekly basis, I must have an aura of stupidity or naivety that surounds me.

Yesterday I was at the park with my girls and my friend, Jessica, who is giving birth to her first child this month. She was expressing how errands now take so much longer because people (aka strangers) want to stop and talk to her and find out all the details about her pregnancy. I joked about all the amazing advice that comes along when you are pregnant and that new life seems to be a magnet for all those "good intentions." She said she didn't have as much input as she thought she would from strangers. She was a huge support to me in my first pregnancy and had to hear about all my stories of strangers and their advice or inability to respect my personal space. More than once I had a stranger rub my belly with out asking, and sometimes they did not understand they were no longer in belly territory, but in brazier land. After talking with several of my other girlfriends that have had babies, I have begun to realize that although they did come across some of those strange encounters, the amount I have incurred  may not be the norm.

Yesterday evening I took the girls to the hot tub before dinner. We do this on a regular basis to work up Lainey's appetite and wear her out for bed time. Katie was in her car seat playing with toys while Lainey and I played in the water. Already in the hot tub when we arrived was an older gentleman that felt free to offer the following statement as we were stepping in the water, "You need to make sure she only stays in for five minutes at a time." I assured him that we came to the hot tub often and that I was well aware of what my child could handle. As Lainey was playing with her toys she took a drink of the hot tub water from one of her water whistles. I told her not to drink the water, to which old man stranger (he lost the "gentleman" title with his first comment) interjects, "You need to tell her why." Annoyed beyond belief I chose to ignore his comment and continue to play with Lainey, hoping that if I didn't engage he would discontinue his comments. But to no avail. He asked if she had been tested yet for intelligence and what my plans are for her schooling.

Is it wrong to splash a stranger with water?

It would be one thing if his intrusive comments and questions were the only ones I received in the past month, even in the past week. But they aren't. In the checkout lane at Target last week Lainey got very excited over a Goldfish cracker display in front of her. She is in the stage where she repeats things incessantly. After the first dozen "Goldfish, Mommy" statements, I let her carry on with no more response from me that we were not going to purchase any Goldfish that day. So old woman stranger (nope, not a "lady") turns around and says to Lainey, "Are you being ignored?"

Is it wrong to push your stroller into a stranger?

While at the park two weeks ago I was holding Katie while Lainey fed the ducks and looked for leaves. Again another old woman stranger who happened to be walking by asked how old Katie was. I told her four months old, to which she replied after a moments hesitation, "Well, I guess that's old enough to have her out and about." Thank you for being okay with my decision to bring my baby out on a nice day.

Is it wrong to chuck a piece of bread at a stranger's head?

The same park trip I am loading Lainey into the car to head home for lunch and naps. Katie was crying in the stroller because her pacifier had fallen out and she was sleepy. I was keeping an eye on a different old lady stranger that had stepped off the sidewalk with her dog and was getting closer to Katie. I continued to buckle Lainey into her car seat without taking my eyes off this woman because she was now too close to my baby and my momma bear instinct was on the rise. She saw me watching her, stopped her approach and said, "She's crying!" Really? Is that what that sound is? All this time I have been so confused as to what that noise was.

Is it wrong to tell a stranger to BACK UP OFF?

Going out in public with two young children is challenging enough without unsolicited advice or input from random strangers that I may cross paths with. The negative comments are given mainly by those in my grandparents generation, to which I respectfully ask if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all. Your input and observations will probably not be taken in the helpful light you are intended it to be.

On the flip side, when one of my kiddos brings joy to a stranger or is offered a kind word, I am very grateful for it. Even the old man stranger at the hot tub gave a kind word as he got out of the spa. "Continue to do what you are doing with your daughter. She is polite, well mannered, and seems exceptionally bright." I don't think we would have gotten to that comment if I would have splashed him with water.

It is my new mission to offer kind words to mom's with young children in hopes to balance out the other less positive input they may receive.

Join me won't you?

1 comment:

  1. Ugh, people can be so intrusive sometimes and inappropriate. You're a great writer though Kelli! I look forward to reading more.