I am a magnet for unsolicited parenting advice. Maybe it’s because I have 3 children whom I publicly describe as strong-willed and privately describe as my personal army of poorly-trained demons. Regardless, while some people might be qualified to dish it out, these 8 people definitely are NOT.
1. Clerk at Trader Joe’s – Please don’t tell my kids the absolute opposite of what I just told them. I clearly and loudly asked (yelled at?) my children to hold on to the side of the cart. This makes your job easier. It prevents the herd from stampeding across the store, ramming into the hipsters trying to decide between Two-Buck Chuck and organic Pinot Noir. It also saves your leaning tower of Joe’s O’s from imminent destruction. Do you want it to fall on you? Do you want to start it over? Because I’m not picking it up after my children destroy it.
Mr. Clerk, it is never ok to put your hand on my shoulder and pat me, then proceed to say that children shouldn’t ride on the sides of the carts. DO YOU SEE MY CHILDREN RIDING ON THE SIDE OF THE CART? No? Oh, you only see them holding the edge of the cart? Exactly like I asked (yelled at) them to do? That’s right. Back off. Demon tendencies are inherited.
2. 18-year-old in the grocery store – Why do I always pick the check-out line with an advice-giver ahead of me? It’s a curse. I thought I was safe getting in line behind a tall, thin, tan, trendy 18-year-old. What in the possible name of Hell could she tell me about parenting? Nothing, right? Wrong.
My kids were scattered but not being loud or unruly. One was squatting to examine random impulse-buy crap – razor blades, pens, Band-Aids, Chapstick, beef jerky. One was re-stacking candy bars. The third was staring at the old man behind us. More specifically, at the absurdly long nose hairs sprouting from the guy’s nostrils. Not great, but not being a disturbance.
I was waiting for my turn with what I thought was an I got this I’m a great mom expression. The girl was watching out of the corner of her eye. She suddenly turned around, touched me (WTF is up with the touching?), and said “It will get better.” I just stared at her with my jaw hanging open. I might have drooled.
3. Childless people – Don’t even open your mouth in my direction. Childless people giving a mother advice is like Miley Cyrus giving fashion tips. It’s just wrong.
4. College day care worker – You have taken 1 training course in how to use love and logic to redirect temper tantrums. How’s that workin’ for ya? Because when I pick up my 3-year-old at the end of the day, half of your class is cray-cray and you look like you are on the verge of a panic attack. Do you know how the conversation would go if I used logic to discipline my daughter? Here’s a sample:
Me: Let’s put on your jacket.
Me: But honey, it’s really cold.
Me: It’s as cold as a snowman outside, and it’s snowing. You will be cold. This jacket will keep you warm like the sun!
Daughter (jumps and shakes tiny fists): No. no. no. NO. NO. NONONONO!
Me: Ok. You have earned the natural consequence of being cold outside. Based on this experience, next time we go outside you will be happy to put your coat on.
Daughter (hysterical laughter): Poop.
Daughter: (gets hypothermia and pneumonia, never wears a jacket again).
5. People who haven’t had young kids in 30 years – I’m not rubbing my baby’s gums with whiskey when she is teething. I’m not putting rice cereal in my 6-week-old’s bottle to help her sleep. I’m not going to teach my kid a lesson by biting her back if she bites me. My cat isn’t going to smother my baby in her sleep. And I’m sorry to say, I’m not going to treasure every minute of their childhoods. I don’t enjoy wiping butts, serving as a human snot rag, or mediating fights over Bob the Builder vs. Handy Manny. It’s just not my idea of a good time.
6. People who have textbook children – I know you have read ALL THE BOOKS and attended ALL THE CLASSES and researched ALL THE THINGS. But shut-up. You have no idea what you are talking about. You think it’s critically important that all new babies need to be on a feeding schedule, no matter what. You think every child should wake, eat, play, sleep, repeat. You don’t think a baby should ever be nursed/given a bottle before bedtime. Maybe this worked for your babies who happened to fit the average baby mold. My kids are exceptional. They exist outside the bounds of general parenting manuals. You can’t help me.
7. Celebrities – Who is giving advice to famous people? Because they are the ones who really needs some wisdom. Elimination potty training? Chewing up food before giving it to junior? Only allowing kids to drink Kabbalah-blessed water? Clearly they need to spend some time with Mr. Trader Joe’s clerk.
8. Anyone who wasn’t asked to give advice – Bottom line: I don’t care who you are. Maybe you are a Super Nanny. Maybe you have 19 kids. Maybe you are a baby whisperer. If I didn’t ask for advice, please don’t offer it.
Let me give YOU some advice. If you want to tell me the ‘right’ way to raise my children, hire me a babysitter and take me out for coffee. You can expound upon the intricacies of breast vs. bottle. I can sit back, sip my latte, and daydream about the day my demon-spawn will be in college. It’s a win-win.