Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lest ye be judged ...

My 2-year-old nephew, Little Man, was ready to go home about three days from the end of our week-long vacation, I think, and spent the last couple days going in and out of meltdown mode. My sister was wrestling with him one afternoon at the beach, getting covered in sand as she held onto his squirming limbs, when she turned to look at me and said over his screams and squeals:

"You better not be judging me. Your day will come."

I was not judging Lexi. Truth be told, I was rather impressed with her toddler-wrangling and remembering what it felt like to be put into a bear-hug stranglehold by her. (We haven't always gotten along so well.) Also, she's right: Tantrums happen.

But, I'd be lying if I said I never judged someone else's parenting skills.

I have hissed to my husband when I've seen a bare-headed newborn in the Florida heat, "Someone should put a hat on that baby." When I opened the daycare refrigerator to put in The Boy's milk and lunch leftovers, I saw an adult-sized macaroni-and-cheese dinner and hoped that was two days' worth of lunches for some little girl. At restaurants, I am simultaneously appalled at the carefree moms who don't pick up the mess their little darlings leave on the floor and amused with the germaphobic parents who won't let their kid have a pacifier after it hits the table. I cringed yesterday when I realized I was married to someone who took our child to the grocery store with dirty, bare feet and a snotty nose.

I have been the parent of a hat-less, barefooted, be-snotted baby eating a quadruple helping of macaroni and cheese and smashing half of it into the carpet, but these thoughts still flit through my head. The Karmic punishment (eg: forgetting a coat and being the parent with a blue-lipped toddler at the fair) makes up for my involuntary, internal judging, I figure.  I'm not yelling at these these parents, "Hey, you're doing it wrong!" And somehow, these reflexive internal comments about small things like bare baby heads seem OK to me as long as I'm offering the mother with the screaming kid at the mall a sympathetic glance and help with the door. Mostly, as I've said confessed before, I think every parent finds what works for them. We all judge a bit.

Be honest: What parenting do you judge? What things to do you tsk-tsk?


k said...


I'm kind of a judgey pants when it comes to kids misbehaving in stores or restaurants and the parents are oblivious or don't address it. Right, I know--my day will come, I'm sure of it.

I will also admit to calling a toddler a "punk ass kid" when said child pummelled my husband's leg while waiting in line at the grocery store.

I may have been cranky that day.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

I like to think that any judgments I find myself thinking are just because parenting is so emotional and significant for me. I KNOW that I don't know the whole story. I KNOW that the kid is not my kid and maybe what has worked for my kid isn't true for their kid. I KNOW that it's really best for me to keep my eyes on my own plate.

But when I go to see Pirates of the Caribbean and there's a TINY child there who's scared of the opening scenes with NOOSES and starts crying and saying he has to go potty and his dad shushes him and then he's crying harder and saying he WET HIS PANTS and his dad TELLS HIM TO SHUT UP, I have to forcibly hold myself down from picking him up and running away with him.

(That was forever ago and it still makes me sick to my stomach with... judgment I guess.)

desperate housewife said...

I really get mad when it seems like parents just ARE NOT LISTENING to their kids. And I know that I don't know the situation and that the kid may in fact be a whiny pathological liar and the parents have learned to ignore most complaints just to save their sanity, but still...

Hillary said...

Oh you guys are too funny. And clueless but hopeful, that is an AWFUL story. It's a wonder you didn't steal the child or smack the dad.