I really try not to judge other moms and parents. I've made it a rule not to do this.
But of course, I do this. We all do this. We are Judgey McJudgersons. All of us.
Yes, even you.
In fact, the people that claim "not to judge" are often the most Judgey of all. They come with a black robe, white curls, and a wooden mallet. The Supreme Court Judgers.
Here is the thing: we are all going to judge one another on a certain level because as parents we all think long and hard (presumably) about the decisions we make, and when we meet someone who makes very different decisions, it shocks us. "Why would they do it that way? I certainly wouldn't do it thaaaat wayyyy" (said in a very whiny and annoying tone). And there you go. You just judged. But what is it that parent did that you wouldn't do? Was it something really terrible? Or did they just pick something up off the floor and let their child put it in their mouth without washing it? Because stuff like that…I really don't care about, and you shouldn't either. Yep. I'm telling you how to feel.
I'd be an awful therapist…
But seriously, there are a lot of things that I probably "flash judge" but when I really think about it, I don't care. Like…I don't care if your child used a soother since they were 2 days old. I don't care if your baby was formula or breast-fed. I don't care if you cloth diaper, use attachment parenting, or do baby sign language. All I care about is that you and your child are happy and healthy.
With that said…there are things that you might do as a parent that will make me think, "Yeah, I probably don't want to hang out with this parent one on one."
For example: I was at the park with my son last week, and I got talking to a nice couple who had a son around Cole's age and an older daughter who was almost four. New potential parent friends in the neighbourhood? Maybe! Woo Hoo! We were playing with the kids and chatting, when their daughter went down the slide, and kicked Cole over. He was standing at the bottom of the slide (he's 14 months).
"You shouldn't go down the slide when someone is at the bottom sweetheart!" The mom said.
"Well, he should know not to be standing at the bottom then," said the almost 4-year -old.
"Yes, he shouldn't have been standing there," I said, "But he is little and doesn't know better yet."
"Say you're sorry for knocking Cole over honey." The mom asked her daughter.
"C'mon honey, say you're sorry."
"(pause) No…(walks away)…I don't feel like it."
"Awww, you're making Mommy very sad. That's not nice." Says the mom.
END OF CONVERSATION
Really? Really? You're going to let your four-year-old decide that she doesn't want to apologize for kicking a toddler over when she intentionally saw him at the bottom of the slide?
And that is where I got my wooden mallet and became a Supreme Court Judger myself (and whacked this snotty four year old in the shins. Kidding). Though, I immediately decided that these parents were too laid back for their own good and that their daughter was going to become a narcissistic sociopath.
I know that's extreme, and I know I'm being sensitive and irrational — but it pissed me off.
Don't be a lazy parent. Discipline your child and teach them how to treat other people. Not apologizing and walking away is not an option.
Is this the end of the world? No. Not even close. Would I talk to this couple again at the playground? Of course! Would I have a BBQ with them one afternoon? Probably, because we are that desperate for suburb friends… Sigh
We aren't perfect parents...but some of us are better than others.
Shut-up, it's true. I'm not saying I'm one of the good ones, I'm just making a general comment.
Now I'm going to head over to the park and let Cole ruin some kids sand castle and have those parents secretly hate me.
It all comes around full circle, doesn't it?
I don't know if you know this or not - but I get to watch movies and TV shows for a living. It's a pretty tough job, but someone has to do it. My husband hates me if I ever complain "But honey - the movie was soooo long. And with the sun coming in through the window, I almost fell asleep at my desk!"
I get no sympathy.
But it's okay, I realize I have a great job and I work with awesome people on top of it all. My boss is also fantastic.
*hoping my boss is reading this and will now give me an incredible bonus and substantial raise*
Anyway, I'm not here to talk to you about my job - I'm here to talk to you about how sensitive and in-tune I've become with content for children. This is probably a good thing, but it changes my movie watching experience. Damn it. I can no longer sit back and just enjoy a great animated film and laugh at all of the jokes that have been interwoven for adult enjoyment. You see, now when I watch a film for children, I'm watching it with my parent filter. My stupid f*cking parent filter (Clearly, I'm not so concerned about other filters...) But when watching these films, I notice things that I might not have noticed a year ago.
For example, I was just watching Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, and there is a scene in the beginning when Diego the sabre-toothed cat is feeling sad. The female woolly mammoth, Ellie, tells her woolly mammoth husband Manny to go and talk to Diego about how he is feeling. Manny tells his wife that men don't talk about their feelings. They just punch each other in the shoulder. Begrudgingly, he finally goes and half-assed talks to Diego and totally dismisses his feelings.
Now call me an oversensitive parent, but what is this teaching our boys? This is blatantly telling our sons that men don't talk about their feelings - and I think that is bullshit.
Later in the movie, the same two male characters are trapped in a venus fly trap. The acid from the plant starts to eat away at their legs,
"I feel tingly" says Diego
"Don't say that when you're pressed up against me," says Manny - angrily.
"Not that kind of tingly," Diego responds quickly in defense.
Again. Clearly this is a joke aimed at adults, but...is this really a joke? I mean, I'm a comedian, and I definitely love dick and fart jokes. I have a very basic level of humor at times. I've even referred to myself as a twelve year old boy, "Pull my finger. Tee hee."
But this? What is this? What if our sons DO have tingly feelings when they're pressed up against another boy? Are we supposed to make them feel ashamed, embarrassed or disgusted because of this?
We encourage little boys to kiss and hug little girls, "Aww, maybe they'll get married one day." hahaha. But why don't we ever say this about two little boys or two little girls?
I know of some parents who get angry if their sons play with dolls. Really? DOLLS!
We live in the 21st century and when people have these types of reactions it seriously blows my mind.
Have I gone to extreme efforts to raise my child in a completely gender neutral environment? No. Have I bought my son trucks and things that are red and blue? Yes and yes. But I've also bought him two dolls and he owns three pairs of colourful leggings. I never get offended if someone thinks he's a girl: who cares? I hug him all the time, and shower him with affection. When he gets older, I will encourage him to talk to me about his feelings and let him know it's okay to cry and be vulerable and open.
My husband and I have already made it part of our vocabulary to say things like, "I hope you bring a nice girlfriend home one day. Or nice boyfriend." (Because yes, I've already imagined what it will be like when my little boy is bigger than me and is dating. Agh. Cry.)
Anyway - this post isn't funny. I'm sorry, but I just had to get these things off my chest
So now, go ahead.
Pull my finger.
Alright, my son is 14 months old, so we definitely have this whole "parenting" thing down now (sure we do...) I can't even remember what life was like before I had my son. What did I do when I came home from work? I must have had so much free time! Why didn't I run marathons? Or write novels? Or solve the majority of the worlds problems? Surely I had bucketloads of time to do all of these things!
Well, those days are long gone, and now I don't have time to fart let alone even think about writing a novel.
SIDE NOTE: I do, however, still want to write a book about farting. Well...pooping. Not poop itself, but the social aspect of pooping. People have some very interesting rituals/thoughts/feelings about pooping. It's fascinating.
And you know what else is fascinating? (Do you like how I transitioned out of the poo-talk there?) I find it interesting, that in these past 14 months I haven't done a lot of reading about "how to parent." I've sort of just rolled with the punches, read some blog posts, followed my intuition, and chatted with a bunch of other moms. I'm a hands-on learner, and nothing is more hands-on than being a mom.
But then the other day, it hit me: maybe I should be doing some reading about parenting styles and philosophies about learning, etc.. I've always considered sending my son to a Montessori school for a couple of years before he starts grade school — but truthfully, I don't really know what Montessori is all about...
I found out months after I was natrually doing it that I believe in "attachment parenting." But who knew?!? Not me. I was just mothering. I didn't know it was a thing.
Geez. When did everything get so confusing? So many labels, groups, styles, beliefs.
And then this is where HICK JEN battles HIPPIE JEN:
HICK JEN THINKS THINGS LIKE THIS:
-You don't need books to teach you how to parent (unless you're looking for answers in a certain area)
-I don't want to spoil my child. He needs to be uncomfortable sometimes. He needs to learn to get up when he falls.
-If you overthink every word you speak to your child, what kind of life is that?
-Go outside and play with a rock and a stick. Use your imagination.
-If I dote on you too much and over think things too often you're going to become a spoiled brat who can't handle anything in life.
HIPPIE JEN THINKS THINGS LIKE THIS:
-I should have done baby sign language. Shit.
-Maybe my son should have mini-sized furniture fit for him, and not use things like sippy cups (as suggested by Montessori). His bed should be on the floor so he doesn't feel caged in and he can come and go as he pleases. This gives him freedom, and choice. I want him to feel free and confident to make his own decisions!
-We need to be educated and aware about how we talk to our children so that we don't cause them emotional harm/distress. I want my son to be strong and confident, and ultimately I don't want to be doing or saying things that are really going to mess him up. What if I do the opposite of everything Andrea Nair says about thriving with a toddler in her recent blog post? I'm definitely guilty of saying "please" when asking my son to do something...
And then, after writing this very list I think I've realized I'm okay with being Hick Jen sometimes and Hippie Jen other times. I'm an educated woman who is smart and loving. I have an amazing mother who is taking an active role in raising my son. I have an awesome husband who is sensitive yet strong. I'm not too worried about how my son will turn out.
Maybe I'll send him to a Montessori school during the week, and then send him up to his redneck Liberal-hating Grandpa's farm on the weekend to chop some firewood and plough the fields. Seems like a good balance, I'd say.
Tell me, what kind of parent are you? What are your personal thoughts/philosophies about raising children? Or perhaps you've written a book, and suggest I read it? ;)