Very few days go by when I don’t have a finger-in-the-nose moment where I can only wonder what the social “norm” might be for acceptable behavior based on the situation and age of the child who has spawned the brilliant idea.
A truly horrifying scene: running the streets after a torrential downpour, barefoot. Could be. We walk our street multiple times per day though and have a very clear idea of what is commonly found next to the curb. Calculated risk.
The other day, we found ourselves early to a store on a lazy Sunday morning. Needing to pass 5 minutes, we tried to get out and splash in the puddles, but it was just too cold. So, we climbed back in and drove around the back of the empty building, splashed through a couple puddles with the car, and then found ourselves back where we started in the parking lot.
With two antsy boys, we made the seemingly benign decision to ask if the youngest would like to try “driving” the car around the back of said empty building. Now, when I say “driving” in this context, it’s more like “holding onto the steering wheel…mostly…while occasionally picking a nose or checking out a puddle while we creep along at 2 mph.” So, we crawl around the back, park, and finally go in.
Upon arriving back at our car, we find we’ve been post-it-noted. In true passive-aggressive style, we find our van stickied with hot pink notes screaming, “CAR SEATS ARE THE LAW IN TEXAS!!”, “YOU ARE ENDANGERING YOUR CHILD!!!” and “A CHILD SEAT FOR EACH CHILD!!”
Really? I was genuinely surprised. There were 5 cars parked in the parking lot when we showed up. Not exactly Black Friday.
Well, thank goodness for those sticky notes. They’ve certainly taught me a lesson. Phew…and here, this whole time I’d been operating under the misguided notion that car seats were just some optional piece of gear, a ploy by childhood equipment manufacturers to garnish more of our cash in the great get-parents-to-buy-all-the-fancy-stuff-at-the-baby-store conspiracy.
No, not really, but it did make my heart beat faster. I did feel angry, as though I’d been judged and convicted of endangering my child without even knowing what was going on or giving me an opportunity to defend myself.
Running the dry river bed. We did find one patch of water, which later became the source of thousands of the tiniest frogs we’d ever seen. If adventure were a math equation, risk and discovery would be variables for sure.
So here is the catch about parenting…this is not an isolated incident.
I’ve been reprimanded at a bus station for not harnessing my son into the 5-point harness available on the stroller. I’ve been told countless horror stories of birth *while pregnant*. I’ve been informed that carrying my children in wraps/slings will deform their hips (studies demonstrate that the open-straddle position helps hip development), that my husband and I should have our children taken away because we practice Elimination Communication….the list goes on an on…
It’s tough to please everyone else. This is true whether you’re a parent or not. With kids, there are lots of opinions. It gets tricky to tease out which ones are yours and which ones are the fabricated what-ifs.
So, I keep trying…feeling out each social context the best I can in the attempt to keep peace…some of us are wired that way. Momentary conformity does not threaten me, rather it’s a means to an end…a hope that maybe I’ll get to see the better side of others rather than their horrified, attacking selves.
And in the mean time, I found myself today nervously eying the neighborhood. Hoping that somebody didn’t come flying out her front door waving her cane and railing at me about what an irresponsible mother I am for letting my son climb a sign.
So the next time someone tells me that they use Benadryl to help their kids sleep at bedtime, I’m going to turn off my Unsolicited-Advice-Reflex and ask her if she’s been having a rough time with bedtimes…they can be a challenge. Who knows, she might ask your advice 😉
Do the best you can, in the place you are…and above all, be kind.
There’s a rubric I can aspire to.