If you’ve glanced at a newspaper or a television or the internet in the past 20 years, you’ve realized that there are many people walking around who shouldn’t have children. Like, “maybe forced sterilization isn’t such a bad idea or an inhumane conclusion” sort of people.
I watch the news. I read the horrible stories of abuse and neglect that seem to occur on the daily. These insane situations are the types of things where just a headline can send your mood into a tailspin.
So here’s the problem…
While there are human beings out there that are abusing their children, not every parent is abusive. Just like not every person likes donuts (although I’d have to believe if you don’t like donuts, there is fundamentally something wrong with you), and some people don’t like cheese (again, these people are most likely insane and should probably be kept away from the rest of us normal people), but just because I have children, and at times they get upset or unruly in public, that doesn’t mean I am abusing them.
What I’m actually doing is this little thing I like to call “parenting” them.
This morning, I was in the grocery store with my toddler. Now, as toddlers go, he’s often pretty well behaved, but he is, still, just a 2-year-old. And a 2-year-old is only as happy as whatever crazy bullshit thoughts go on in that little 2-year-old brain.
On this particular morning, everything was fine. Then he saw the bananas and lost his ever-loving shit.
My kid loves bananas. He could eat about 5 or 6 bananas in a day if I allowed it. He’s like the Joey Chestnut of bananas. And bananas are very good for you.
I’m usually pretty loose when it comes to doling out bananas, but this particular store prices their bananas by weight, not quantity, so I couldn’t just give him a banana at that exact moment. I had to pay for it. You know, like a normal person. But 2-year-olds don’t really have a care or concept of time; their little terrorist heart wants what it wants.
As my adorable toddler turned into something requiring an exorcist within a millisecond, I attempted to parent him, explaining that we had to pay for things before we just took them, and made my way to the checkout line. That was the moment when the “concerned stranger” stepped in.
The concerned stranger seemed to be under the impression that I was “abusing” my son by not giving him exactly what he wanted (a banana) at the moment he wanted it (that instant) and told me just that.
“Oh, that poor boy, just let him eat a banana.”
“He must be so hungry. When was the last time he ate?” (My son is 38 pounds and 40 inches tall.)
“How can you listen to him scream like that? Just give him what he wants.”
“At least it’s healthy. It could be worse; he could want chips.”
I stood there, paralyzed by shock that some fucking stranger seemed to have lost her filter when it came to my son and bit my tongue because while she might have deserved a “hey lady, fuck off,” that’s really not the person I want my kid to see when he thinks of his mom and her conflict resolution skills.
So I did something I never thought I’d do… I ignored her, paid for my shit, gave my kid a banana, and went on my merry way.
But here is the thing. I don’t think this will be the last concerned citizen I’ll ever have to deal with. Or the last concerned citizen any parent will have to deal with, which pisses me off.
So, to all the concerned citizens of the world, here it goes…
Kids cry. Kids cry because their milk is white. Or they just realized their shoes aren’t blue, or they want a banana and it’s not banana time yet. Sometimes they don’t cry because of all those things. Maybe this time, they’ll scream or sing and dance.
Just know this: my action or inaction to certain behaviors my child is exhibiting has nothing to do with abuse or neglect. It has everything to do with me parenting them.
I am teaching them that there are certain times for certain things and certain ways to live their life. I didn’t give my kid a banana at the exact time he wanted it because I’m not a thief, and I’d be doing him a disservice if I didn’t teach him that fact early on.
When you give a child everything and anything the moment they want without rules, you are teaching them to be an entitled little asshole, and I’d prefer to not grow old in a country being run by those people.
While I’m sorry you had to listen to my toddler cry for 4 1/2 minutes in a checkout line, I would appreciate it if you’d shut your pie hole when it comes to childrearing other people’s children.
I am doing the best that I can despite your efforts.
This post was originally published on The Outnumbered Mother.
About the Author
Amy grew up in the suburbs of Long Island singing Barbara Streisand hits into her hairbrush. When she’s not writing her hilarity fueled parenting memoir as The Outnumbered Mother, she’s a Florida living, butt wiping, soccer team carting, gourmet chef attempting, tennis skirt wearing, non-tennis playing, self-proclaimed bad mamma jamma to 3 sons and a very understanding husband. You can find her at The Outnumbered Mother, on Facebook, and on Twitter.