Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Kids and Other People

I have been dealing with people’s reactions to my kids for seven and half years. I’ve been dealing with other people’s kids for a lot longer, but that’s tomorrow’s post. 

I have three little kids that are, in my totally biased opinion, pretty cute. And usually fairly well behaved. With other people.  So normally I get nice comments.  But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the way other people interact with your kids. The way they speak to them or about them. I know that I say things that are deprecating about my kids. I feel that I see them clearly, in spite of how much I love them.  I know they're not perfect.  They're not even close, I mean they're mine.  They're actually pretty weird but you know what?  They're perfect for me.

But I don’t appreciate other people yelling at them or telling me about their shortcomings. In fact, it makes me feel all stabby. My reactions are NOT REASONABLE. I know this. I could say: “Hey Kate, Thumbelina is being super bossy today.” And Kate could say: “Yes, she is. More coffee?” And my feelings would be instantly hurt and I’d be sort of catty and tail-lashy about her agreeing with something that I just said. I am clearly weird and unstable.

The majority of the time, everything is groovy. Except when it’s not. That’s just how my family works. We cruise along doing great for weeks at a time (aside from the fact that we can’t seem to go a single day without somebody crying or me yelling and the laundry ever getting done). Then WHAMMY - here comes a phase. Or a problem. Or a growth spurt. Or deciding to not sleep ever again. And everything falls out of sync and you start to feel like: “Whuck? Last week we were pretty good and now I live in the monkey house at the zoo, except it smells worse here and there’s more noise.”

This is always the exact moment when someone feels compelled to comment. A mommy on the playground letting you know that your kids are really very loud, your sister-in-law commenting on your daughter’s weight, your friend unable to meet your eyes as she mentions some fresh horror committed by your child while in her care.

Sigh… It’s not just me, right? This happens to other people? Maybe it’s the timing thing. Maybe when things are running somewhat smoothly you just don’t notice the comments or your mental health and mommy confidence are well fed and able to withstand what feels like needle pokes a week later when things are hairy and scary.

Let’s divide this up into the types of people who may feel the need to comment negatively on your children: strangers, random people you sort of know, family and friends. Let’s start with strangers.

Strangers: I don’t know you. Shut the hell up. Unless someone is bleeding or a 911 call is imminent, keep it to yourself. While you’re telling me that my kid is throwing mulch, your kid is eating it.  I pay attention to my little terror suspects and when I see them being rotten, I take action.  That's what my Mean Mommy voice is for.  Don't make me use it on you.

Random People You Sort Of Know: Here’s where you have to watch out for Perfect Mommy Who Runs The Soccer Team With An Iron Fist. Or the overly competitive snitch from preschool who decided that her little precious with the enormous head was too advanced to play Candy Land with some of the other three year olds. You can’t tell them to suck it (to their faces) so take a lesson from our sisters to the south and just look at them say: “Bless your heart…” From what I gathered during my five years in Alabama, that translates into Yankee as roughly “I hate your ass face.”

Family: Sometimes people in your family feel that their connection to and love for your child is so well established, that they can say anything they want with impunity. It’s your job to put them in their place the very first time this happens. For example: “Say it again, Grandpa. They’ll be your last words. Bye now! Come again soon!”

Friends: This is actually the hardest one for me. Because like I said, I get all weird and stabby when it comes to my kids. I can’t always tell if what’s being said is just normal mom stuff or if I’m so oversensitive that I’m about to be socially awkward again or if I’m actually getting jellyfished. Thankfully, I have purged most of the “friends” in my life who were stingers and zingers and those who remain are true blue awesomeness.  I trust them not to be mean or snitchy.  So, if something rubs me the wrong way, I usually just let it go. Unless I have PMS or am dealing with a bout of Hair Trigger Bitch Syndrome (HTBS). Then I may say something awesome like: "I know I suck at parenting!  Everyone knows that.  Don't rub it in." And maybe a tear squeaks out.  Then I apologize fifty times for over-reacting.  So if this happens to you with one of your friends, you may want to consider reading about my reaction and then doing the complete opposite.

Tomorrow, I deal with the other side of this issue: Other People's Kids.

xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010


  1. ...over-react and then maybe a tear squeaks out. Priceless. I do that too and I don't even have kids. But it sounds like yours are cuter than two cute things on cute tablets, from what they say.

  2. I had that kind of day yesterday. My kids..and other people's kids. So bad that I was forced to have "a chat" with those kids' mom, who is a friend...and I know it's ok to rant about your own hellions, but when someone else comments, a mom can go off...I didn't want to have "the chat" but man, those kids were.off.the.hook. She took the news well, but it could have gone the other way and I could have gotten my eyes clawed out.

    Today I am taking the day to recuperate from yesterday...and hopefully tomorrow with the horde will be better...(please, please, please..)

  3. This is exactly how I am. I get PISSED when people say things about J. Don't I say enough? Do you need to tell me MORE???

    Also, I read this at 4am this morning when J was up... and I thought you should know that I turn to you at 4:00 in the morning. :)

  4. My mamaw is coming to visit soon...sigh...I got a bad feeling about it already. I really do not want to be mean to her, but I can already hear the "I wish you would do this" or "I wish they would act like this"...Grrrr.

    "Bless your heart"...can be used for SO many situations.

  5. from someone in the south....let me tell you that "bless your heart" has more than one translation! "suck it ass face" is one version. "kiss my grits and walk away dumbass" is one. "wow, she's more than short all the fries in the happy meal" is another.

    My personal fav would have to be "she must be paid a LOT at night". You know...those "women" who walk around and you're thinking "dang, she's not wearing anything! Bless her heart!"

    snarky? me? nah!

  6. I posted this on my FB recently -- can I c&p? It seems ... related. Diagonally.

    "[I am] beginning to accept that it is a mother's lot in life to be seen as overprotective and indulgent of her children. She knows them best, loves them most and sees them, more than anyone, at their worst."

    Because I don't think it's just personal sensitivity (but if it is -- I definitely have it too). I think there is this perverse universal agenda that challenges us mamas to 'bear up' for our offspring.

  7. I get this shiznit all the time from a former sitter..."remember when your kid used to cry? all.the.time?? when he was a baby?" ummm...actually no...he cried when he was sick...or hurting...apparently he only cried all.the.time. when he was in your care...

  8. OMG - I so relate to this blog. Seriously!!! Frankly, my Sporty McGee keeps me busy enough that I don't have time to notice other people's children and their behavior UNLESS it draws blood from mine. Reality - Watch what you judge others for today, it may be knocking on your door tomorrow! Great blog!

  9. *slightly* off topic...WTF is up with moms who tell the kids at the playground that they are too loud, or to quit yelling? What else is a playground for but to run and yell? I tell mine to get all that shit out there so they'll be drained and quiet by the time we get home. off rant.

  10. I always use the "How niice" comment. Heard a joke about the south once, and I'm inclined to believe it, that it means it, Fark you. I.love.it. So when perfect mommy is in my face about what her child can do and how fast, all I say is "How niice" and then gigle hysterically. I feel better, and she'll probably leave me alone, thinking something is wrong with me!

  11. Blue-eyes, I want to let mine do the same, except when she starts yelling in other kids' faces...then we have to rush in to turn her dial down. As you may know, that might not always work, so we compromise by telling her to keep it down when she's playing with other kids, but letting her scream her two year old heart out when we're sort of alone in the playground.

  12. Stabby - that's the perfect description of how I get. They are my children, I'm perfectly aware of what they are capable of. I have seen their dark sides. Hell, they get their dark sides from me! I do not need some random stranger, acquaintance or family member to tell me about it. Go ahead, tell me how bad they've been, and I will unleash them upon you, giving them full immunity for their actions. Then we'll see if you feel the need to critique my babies again.

    Oh...uh...I mean...yeah, I totally know what you mean!

  13. Most people do not engage the brain before they speak, and when they do, they typically say stuff just to give you a righteous sniff in the parental department.
    On top of that, they aren't usually trying to be helpful, and are actually in need of a swift kick in the taco. I'd get all snitchy right back, too.
    And I am in the south and they do get what I mean, even if I say it nicely, so my kids don't have to know what mama just said. But they know something just went down. As Ouiser once said, "I'm not as nice as I used to be."
    Nobody's kids are perfect. If that were the case, they wouldn't still live at home. I feel like the prison warden most days, but I know I am doing the best job I can with the sweathogs God gave me.
    Rock on girl!

  14. ME TOO! Ugh! I almost hate that I'm so overly sensitive about my kids, but then, they're MY kids. No one else is going to take care of them or love them like I do. Just this very morning I dropped my 5 year old off at kindergarten. He has a broken arm in a bright red cast. (He fell out of the tree a couple of weeks ago, major drama at my house) Well, twice since he's come home from school telling me a little girl in his class has twisted his broken arm. I do understand in my grown-up brain that I can not pop this little girl's head off and hand it to her mommy and tell her to control her evil demon child now, but that's what I want to do. So I tried to be gracious and caringly mention that if it's possible, please keep these two separated. The teacher looks at me and says "I separate them all the time" like it's a great big huge hairy deal and she's already so tired and exhausted of kids but it's only 8:00 in the morning. So I reminded her that yes, I understand that these two go to church together and they play together often, but the one with the FREAKIN BROKEN ARM needs a slight bit more attention at least until his BRIGHT RED CAST is off his arm. So if you see this little girl's hand on his bright red cast, it's quite all right with me if you go moon bat crazy and pop her head off. It will save me the trouble. And the jail time.

    Whew. This must be a sore spot for me too. I don't care how many times in a day I try to give my kids to the gypsies, YOU (generic you here) are not allowed to say anything other than "what beautiful and kind children you have!"

    Oh, and with my in-laws? I have used the "I'm the Mom, only what I say goes" phrase. Actually word for word in that order. When both parents have custody? The aunt has absolutely NO say whatsoever about how my daughter says her alphabet. I love "Mom of evil monkeys" idea. I'll turn them loose on you. Then we'll talk.

  15. Oh nooooo. Am I a mean mommy? A few weeks ago, my littles (6 and 9) were at a playground and a bunch of young teens were walking around with that "no, YOU do it" look on their faces, then they climbed up onto the TOP of the play structure (verrry high) and I yelled, "Git yer butts DOWN here! Down! NOW!" and they did. No parents in sight, and I was worried they'd fall off and break my kids -- or that my 6 yr old mountain goat son would follow. Sigh.
    --kate in Michigan

  16. Blue eyes...we take them to the park to let them get out all that shrieky goodness and wear them out...but if we they are allowed to practice the screaming too much, they can't be stopped at home either. It becomes a habit surprisingly fast. My ear-drums are already blown before I get them to the park...frankly sometimes I think my.head.will.pop.like.a.zit. if I hear one more shriek...kinda like that movie Mars Attacks...(and sometimes I can only wish my head would explode and end the torment)

  17. Be glad you aren't part of a blended family. I would never say anything negative about other people's kids, except when other people's kids live in my house. It is walking a tightrope everyday.

  18. As a Southerner... "Bless your heart" really CAN mean "Bless your heart, how Awful, I'm praying for you, is there anything I can do" in situations such as: Family member sick or going to hosp, etc. If you share something bad going on and get a "Bless your heart," we mean it. But if you are making snarky comments or being bossy or rude in any way... It DEFINITELY means, "I hate your ugly ass face." LOL Good translation, Lydia! Also, I am same way about my son. Maybe it is the protective Mama bear in us that numbers someones' days for pointing out negatives in our sweet babies? Cause even my husband gets the cold shoulder with death ray eyes for it. True comment or not.

  19. 2 southern belles are sitting on a porch. One says to the other 'See this here bracelet? My daddy bought me this bracelet. It has 21 half-carat diamonds in it.' The other one says 'Well, isn't that nice.' The first one tries again, 'See that Thoroughbred horse over there? My daddy bought me that horse' The second one again says 'Well, isn't that nice.' The first one tries yet again 'See that fine sportscar over there? My daddy bought me that too.' Yet again the second southern belle says only 'Well, isn't that nice.' Finally the first one asks 'Well, what did your daddy buy you?' The second says 'My daddy sent me to charm school to learn to say 'Well, isn't that nice to bitches like you.'

    Well, isn't that nice...;>

  20. I am dealing with the opposite problem right now. I have a really good friend who's child is on the extremely aggressive side. I had to point out to my friend that I thought we should do something about it because my child is the punching bag. She got on the mommy defensive and of course total denial, how could I expect anything else? It was either continue to ignore it and agree with her that her son "didn't mean it" or my kid was standing in the way while hers was punching the air. They just happened to be fighting over a toy her son wanted and he was punching the air in frustration and my son's face was right in that air.

    I finally had to pull the plug on the ruse and start defending my kid in those situations and it went over as well as a turd in a punch bowl. So I was that mother your describing in this post. The one that comments on your kid when you least want to hear it.

  21. I have been using "that's nice" for actual decades, with the same joke two posts before this! Bless your heart...love you Lydia and Kate. See the post that is 3 from here...

  22. As a sister from the south another appropriate reaction is "isn't that precious" translation suck a raw egg and choke on it snitch!
    I also use this term when talking to friends to describe the latest act of terror my children have committed, ie. he stabbed his brother with a sharp object, now there is blood. Isn't that precious?

  23. I don't mind my kid being loud at the park/outside, but there are times when he starts yelling during conversation with other kids or to adults, and it's too much. Yes, I pull him aside and ask him to bring it down a few notches. Trust me, I'd rather him have the loud voice anywhere but in my house, but I do have to remind him to be respectful of others and that he isn't the only one around. Even if there is a difference between and "indoor" and "outdoor" voice, and each one has a special place, it's one thing to be loud and another to be LOUD. When there are 30 kids on the playground, and the only voice you can hear belongs to your offspring, it's a bit much.

    I can't wait for tomorrows post about other people's kids. I had to correct another child once, I didn't know the mom or the kid at all... but her 5 year-old angel was purposely spraying water in the face of my 6 month-old during open swim in the spring, and when I kindly asked him to stop she went postal.

  24. Welcome to my world! Suffice it to say I am a white mom married to a Spanish man with a biracial (Caucasian-Jamician American) child who lives in a very small southern town. I've learned "bless your heart" oh so very well. At least now I have a name for my reaction: Hair Trigger Bitch Syndrome! Thank you!!!

  25. Uh, I must recant my rant from yesterday. First, I think the wonderful kindergarten teacher saw it and was hurt by it. I'm so sorry, I do know that you are an awesome person and are truly blessed by God and I completely trust you to take care of my little monster. Second, last night, my little monster hit his. own. self. in the head with his. own. cast. He now has a purple bruise and knot right smack dab in the middle of his forehead from hitting himself in the head with his arm. How did he accomplish this? He was on the trampoline with his FREAKING BROKEN ARM. Am I a bad mommy or what? Oh well.

  26. LMAO at "I hate your ass face." :)

    This is EXACTLY the way that I get when people feel the need to comment on my children. Two things happened to me recently that go right along with this post...

    One.. the lady at Gymboree (the one actually running the class!!) told me that my son (my precious little sweet ONE year old!) was like Godzilla!!!!! OMG... who says that!? He is as tall as the average 2 year old but still... who says that?!

    Two... I'm checking out at Home Goods and my older son is playing with the baby in the stroller (he is OUR baby!) by looking through the little window thing on top of the hood. The cashier feels inclined to tell him not to do that b/c he might break the stroller. UMMM... thanks but I'LL tell him if I don't want him to do that. Then when he asks me if he can go look at the dancing/singing jack-o-lanterns and I say, "Sure, you can look but don't touch" she feels the need to say, "A little troublemaker, huh?"

    WTF?! He was polite, he ASKED me if he could go look and that's being a troublemaker?! I wanted to stab her freaking eyes out!!! So I say, "Nope, not at all actually." To which she then replies, "Just rambunctious, huh?"

    Seriously, do you WANT to be mauled today?! Keep your comments to yourself ASS FACE!

    Thanks for this post! Makes me feel much better that I'm not the only one that gets all stabby! ;)

  27. Aunt Mary's neighbor came over years ago with a LIST on PAPER of THREE pages of what was wrong with my parenting and my kids. Surprisingly, we still talk to and support each other. Most of what she had listed were just the way boys are when they are about 14 months apart in age. As a single child with no boy cousins, she was clueless. So I forgave her, since she had no idea what else could be done with sidewalk chalk.

  28. I had no idea the rest of the world had caught on to "Bless her heart"! One of the best things about being a Southerner is this very phrase! I can say ANYTHING I want so long as I tack it on the end of the statement.

    Every one of her kids has a different daddy and I don't even think she's sure WHO Skeeter's daddy is. I know for a fact that she ran a train after the Kenny Chesney concert in 09. Bless her heart.

    She's as cross-eyed as Cooter Brown and God knows who sold her that color eyeliner. It's like someone set up a day-glow map to point out that lazy eye. Bless her heart.

    She's as illiterate as a Georgia convict. She dropped out of school in the 8th grade when her daddy ran off and left them with all those hogs to tend to. I guess it's a good thing 'pig' and 'hog' are easy enough to spell. Bless her heart.

  29. As yet another lady in the South, love that everyone seems to have figured out the "Bless your heart"! I'm not originally from the south but I quickly learned that I can say ANYTHING as long as I add the honored "bless your heart" to the end. And they won't say anything back...they realize they have just been put in their place but are too "sweet and kind" to be rude. Love it! And it's a good thing I've learned to use it...as a mom of 4, I get plenty of "helpful" comments from random people. Bless their hearts. ;)




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