Friday, March 23, 2012

Judgy Playground Moms Can Lick My Scrotum. Yes. Scrotum.

My parenting was judged by a complete stranger.

I know. You've all been there too. No pity party for Jaclyn today. Let me start with what happened earlier in the week:

Rodolfo and I needed a new mattress. We've been putting it off... oh, let's say 3 years, and so when we saw Sears was having a sale, we decided to finally suck it up and spend the money so we could stop waking up with backaches every morning.

We were in the store, setting up delivery for our new bed when Caitlyn just full-on melted down. I've said it before, she has her asshole moments, but nothing like this. This wasn't a minute or two of whining over a toy or because I wouldn't let her ride the escalator for the 10th time or because I made her wear shoes; this was a full-blown, middle of a store where we were in the middle of a large transaction and therefore javascript:void(0)could not just walk out, hissy fit.

The funniest part is that there was no real catalyst for it. I think she may be getting another set of molars, because she hasn't been eating or sleeping much, so I can only attribute it to that. She simply decided after 20 minutes or so of wandering around, riding the escalator and carrying around the Dora purse I was planning to buy her, that she was done with Sears. DONE. She melted first into sobs, then angry, irrational rage when I tried to pick her up off the floor (because obviously you don't stand up for a meltdown. You must be face down on the floor).

I tried, you guys. I tried to calm her down, to distract her. I went so far as to try to get her to jump on the beds because she loves to do that at home. No. A resounding and resentful no (followed by another dramatic, face-down flop onto the ground). When she reached for the last trick in her bag, full-blown screaming, I told Rodolfo I'd wait for him in the mall. At least then people would only be passing by as they gave me dirty looks.

To my utter relief, as I walked out of Sears, I noticed the mall had installed one of those indoor, toddler playgrounds right at the Sears entrance. Yes. I could sit, she could play and shut the fuck up and stop screaming in my face. Except, of course, it didn't quite go down like that.

Caitlyn was still mad. I coaxed her onto the slide once, and then she gave up. She collapsed onto the rug of the play area and sobbed for no reason in particular. And you know what? I let her. A few times I made the obligatory amount of effort by asking if she was ready to play yet. She scowled and answered NO each time. So I let her cry it out for the next 15 minutes or so.

You are probably thinking this is where the judgment happened, but actually the other moms and dads were fucking fantastic. This particular play area was very clearly intended for toddlers, so I'm sure they all felt my pain. And not a single one of them gave me the "control your asshole kid" glare that I was expecting. In fact, they joked around with me about Caitlyn's tantrum. Commiserated.

A funny thing happened after that. Caitlyn realized that I wasn't responding to her shitty attitude. It took a while, but eventually she picked herself up off the floor, ran over and gave me a hug. Then she started playing with another little girl until Rodolfo showed up. She started to melt down again when it was time to leave, which only got worse when we refused to reward her bad behavior and walked right past the carousel that she loves and rides every time we visit the mall. Still, I felt like I won that night.

In any case, it's kind of funny how that worked out. I was completely expecting judgment and dirty looks because my kid was flat-out acting like a dick, but I got nothing but sympathy. I guess I was feeling a certain solidarity with other moms this week because of it, so it definitely threw me off when I was told about the random stranger who judged me to my babysitter today at the park.

My babysitter has a 3 year old son and when she took our kids to the park, another mom asked her if they were both her children. She clarified that the boy was hers, but that she is Caitlyn's babysitter.

The other, random stranger mom who has never even met me, decided that I was a shitty mom right then and there. "Oh", she said "How sad. You have her all day?". Then she went on to ask if I "really have to work" and said that "people should plan if they want to have kids". Plan to marry a rich man, apparently.

My babysitter, being the fantastic badass that she is, responded with something along the lines of "you're right. Only rich people should be allowed to have kids, so they can stay home and let their nannies raise them". The woman went on to say that her husband doesn't let her work, to which my new hero very effectively ended the conversation by saying she had "to go to work. And besides, you probably have to go home and wash your husband's feet or something".

Have I mentioned how much I love this woman? She told me she thinks the woman was trying to pay her some sort of backwards compliment for being a stay-at-home mom, without having even a drop of actual information about her life and circumstances. Which led to a whole other conversation about the assumptions people make.

You see, my babysitter is biracial. It's something I immediately loved about her because our family is also biracial and so I knew there were certain things she would get about us right away. The conflicts of culture when raising a child by parents of different races can be really annoying. With Rodolfo and I in particular, we are both extremely stubborn. Extremely. So, while we usually do just fine sorting out the little stuff, when we have a major conflict of ideals about an aspect of child-rearing, neither of us is particularly inclined to fold.

Our babysitter gets this. She realizes that sometimes I'm going to tell her one thing and Rodolfo is going to tell her the complete opposite. She knows how to find the right balance, to respect both of our wishes and find a middle ground. Come to think of it, should we ever need the services of a marriage counselor, we might do well to ask her opinion first.

In any case, when we were talking about the fact that this random, judgy bitch at the park felt like she had some sort of solidarity with her because they were both at home with their children, it made me think of something else. White people.

I'm curious if it's just me. You see, it's happened to me on MANY occasions. It would seem that some of the other white people, the ones who don't particularly like blacks and Hispanics, seem to think we are on the same team in that respect (or lack thereof). They think they can whisper in my ear about "all the blacks" or how "no one in this store speaks English- they should go back to their country!", simply because we are both white.

My favorite response is always to mention the fact that English isn't my husband's first language, that some of his family members living in this country don't speak English at all (before you get all annoyed about that one, I'd like to point out that they live in a primarily Hispanic community and get along just fine without it. I suppose though, you could also react the way my dad does and point out that "we" are "catering to them" and that "the Italians had to learn English!". I know I've mentioned that he's an asshole. Let me just reiterate that now.) and that our daughter, despite appearing to be white, is both biracial and bilingual.

Does this happen to you other white people? Can we get the word out that not all of us (despite our frequent inappropriate jokes on our blog) are racist?

Anyway, that was all very off-topic. In any case, my babysitter is the fucking shit and defended me to some random, bitchy stranger and put her in her place. It's always frustrating to think someone is judging you because you have to go to work. I don't think it's quite the "mommy wars" situation it can get made out to be. I just think some people are assholes.

In any case, its nice to know the person watching my kid has my back, understands why I'm leaving my kid with her and respects that choice and expects anyone who thinks they are allowed to assert their opinion on it respects it too. If ever I questioned my choice to go back to work after Caitlyn was born, this made me sure I made the right choice. Because I'm not the only one teaching Caitlyn to be a super awesome badass who stands up for herself.


Mother Knows Best Reviews said...

I love your babysitter. That park woman is horrifying. I am sure she also doesn't want to cover birth control, just to round it out.

Gia said...

Aw I'm glad the other moms left you alone to let Caitlyn cry it out - it sounds like you handled the situation well! And your babysitter is awesome.

Misty said...

All of those mall parents had totally been there. I'm sure they were just happy it wasn't their kid being the asshole that day.

That woman in the park is a dick. I want your babysitter. She is radsauce. I hope you give her a big bonus at xmas or something. She so deserves it. And good thing you have her. Caitlyn in is good hands!