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

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