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Quick to comment, quick to criticize

Posted Oct 05 2009 10:03pm
As a person, I've learned that some people have no tact. As a mommy, I've learned that it's okay to speak my mind. Maybe I'm just too sensitive, but maybe I'm not assertive enough.

I've known my whole life that sometimes people say really stupid things, not pausing to think before they speak. Sometimes I've made equally ignorant statements, but mostly I've just brushed it off and let the stupid-comment-making-person wallow in their own ignorance.

As a mommy, I've often brushed things off because sometimes, it's just not worth responding to ignorance. But sometimes, putting a person in their place is necessary. It's always fascinated me how much more "concerned" people seem to be with other people than with themselves. Yes, this leads back to the advice post a little bit. I'm sure you remember my aunt who got on me about the way I do things with my son and how I snapped on her because I remember stories of her beating her child mercilessly. Why would I listen to someone like that? Why would I sit and take it when I'm being criticized on my parenting? And above all else, why the hell should I feel like I have to defend myself or explain my parenting to someone like her?

I have gotten off track (as I usually do, lol), but getting back to the point, some "comments" and "criticisms" have arisen recently that have really gotten on my last nerve.

Tonight, at dinner, the hostess said, "He's so cute, how old is he? Like six months?" We told her he was nine months. Her eyes bugged out as she exclaimed, "Wow! Nine months? He's tiny!!!" Ry and I took turns rolling our eyes at each other as she walked away to greet another family. And possibly insult them as well. I'm not sure why that comment even bothered me, but it did. For anyone who has met my son, for a nine-month-old, he is anything but tiny. I guess I was bothered because her statement sounded more like an insult than a comment. Or a judgment even.

It's not that I'm bothered by all comments. Our server was loving Franky in all his chubby cuteness. He had a blast tugging on her apron, blinking his eyelashes at her and smiling. She got a kick out of him too, saying "how cute" he was and how "captivating his big brown eyes" were. I love comments like that, because I totally agree =) But I'm his mommy, so I'm biased.

Later on at the grocery store, the check-out-lady gushed about how cute Franky was. Once again, I agreed, cuz I'm biased, hehehe.

I had an interesting conversation with my dad a few weeks back that really got the wheels turning in my head. My baby sister was 8 lbs 11 oz at birth and 21 1/2 inches long. She was a big girl. People were very quick to comment on how huge she was and how big her feet were and how big her lips were, etc. My step-mom is over six feet tall, so it's no surprise that Baby A is as tall as she is. And there's nothing wrong with her height or weight or feet or mouth. Finally my dad and step-mom got sick of the "compliments" and made a point of telling "complimenters" that they'd appreciate it if the "compliments" were kept simple (i.e. "wow, she's so cute," and not, "God, look how big her feet are.") My dad and step-mom don't want Baby A growing up with a complex about anything because people make silly little comments in her presence, even if they do mean them as "compliments."

I don't blame my dad or step-mom one bit for being irritated. How annoying would that be? Someone comes into your home to visit you and your new baby. Rather than ask how you're doing or how the baby is or say how nice it is to finally see each other again, the person immediately gawks down and says, "Oh my, she has huge feet." Nice. Gee, thanks, person. Thanks for loving on my daughter that way. Nope, I don't blame them one bit.

It seems like people nowadays have no censor when it comes to saying things about other people's kids. Even if they are only meant harmlessly, wouldn't common sense tell them that some things might be offensive?

I love and adore my son in all his chubby glory. And I'm sure that when comments are made about how chubby he is or how big his head is, they are made in a non-offensive way. For me, it depends on who is making the comments. If it's friends or family, then I know it's not meant in a bad way, but when people say stupid stuff who I am not close with, it irritates the hell out of me. Sometimes I feel like saying, "Wow, look at how (insert ignorant comment here) your baby is." See how they'd like it. Why are people so quick to make ignorant comments? Why don't they spend a little more time worrying about their own kid than mine?

I used to get so irritated when people made comments about Franky's temperament. To be honest, I think he had colic for the first two months, so he would fuss if he wasn't constantly being held or nursed. People constantly felt the need to comment about how "crabby" or "grumpy" or "unhappy" Franky was. Now that he's a happy baby and barely fusses at all, I constantly get comments about how "good" he's being. But when someone else's kid spazzes out and I make a comment, they get offended. How is that fair? And in my own defense, I hardly EVER make negative comments about other people's kids, because that's just stupid, but I have tested my theory out and the parent almost ALWAYS gets pissed off if I say something about their kid that they either JUST said or HAVE said recently. I don't get it.

That's another thing that irritates me, people who are quick to criticize other kids or other parents. And people who only have positive things to say about their own kids. My dad made a great point about that too. He has a great way of putting people in their place without coming off as an asshole. I, unfortunately, don't have that same gift. I always end up coming off as bitchy or pissed off or arrogant, even if I'm not.

It kills me when people boast and brag about "how great their kids are," but look down their nose at you because of the way your kid is acting or the way you parent your kid. It makes you wanna say, "Who the hell are you to question my parenting? Or to think that your kid is better than mine?"

If you're wondering why I'm not giving specific examples or names, it's because there are none. I'm just generalizing here.

I guess my big beef with people is, why spend so much time analyzing another parent or another child when your parenting or your child may not be perfect?

The more I think about it, the more I realize that I'm not being too sensitive. Why should I worry about hurting other people's feelings when they have no worries at all about hurting mine? My husband (and mom and sister and dad) have told me time and time again, that I need to just speak my mind when something bugs me instead of keeping it to myself. Obviously, I'm offended for a reason and the offender had no problem offending me, so I should give them the same respect. They are absolutely right. I admire my mom for her honesty and her bluntness. Growing up, she never had a problem telling people not to kiss her baby on the mouth or not to stick your fingers in her baby's mouth or not to hit her kids or not to speak negatively to or about her kids. I always admired that and aspired to be that same way as a mom. For the most part, I've been successful in making my wants known. But I've also realized that not every parent has the same wants as I do. Some parents couldn't care less if you kissed their kid on the mouth or reached your dirty fingers in their kids mouth or scolded their child for doing something they shouldn't be doing. I'm not one of those parents, and unless I make it known, my parenting wants will be violated.

I'm respectful of other parents and their kids, even if I don't necessarily agree with the way a person parents their kid. I've been bothered, annoyed, shocked, disturbed, the list goes on, about the way some people are with their kids. But it's not my place to say anything, so I don't. That's what bothers me most about when people have the nerve to question me about the way I parent my child. I just wanna say, "Hey, parent-of-the-year, why don't you spend more time worrying about your own child than worrying about me and mine." What are the lyrics from that one Bob Marley song? Be right back, I'm gonna look them up in the jacket from the CD case (YES, I LOVE Bob Marley, Judge Not!) The lyrics are from a song called "Judge Not," and they go like this:

Who are you to judge me
And the life that I live?

I know that I'm not perfect
And that I don't claim to be

So before you point your fingers
Be sure your hands are clean

Judge not
Before you judge yourself

I love that song, and especially the part in bold. It's so true.

I'm not saying that all parents are this way, because they are not. There are many parents I admire, for their parenting and for their etiquette with other people's children.

Ry and I visited his cousin recently, whose wife just delivered their second child. Their oldest child is a toddler, and very new to being around other babies the same age or younger. Ry's cousin knows that about his child, so he was careful to keep a watchful eye on his toddler. His toddler and my soon-to-be toddler were fine together. For this post, we'll call Ry's cousin's toddler, "R." She is the cutest and smartest lil girl her age I've ever seen. She speaks full sentences, runs circles around the house, is ridiculously well-behaved and begins to do the dabke (traditional arabic dance) when Arabic music comes on. It's hilarious and so freaking cute to watch. She kept bending down to Franky's level and kissing him. She then got on all fours and crawled around with him. It was so cute watching her "entertain" him, even though she's only seven months older.

What I appreciated about "M," "R's" dad, is that he knew his child well enough to be watchful of her when she was around another baby. She was awesome with Franky, but I liked that "M" was a great parent with her. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but "S," the new baby, is soooo effin cute! He's this tiny, perfect lil bundle of cuteness! I told Ry that after meeting "S", I won't make him wait until Franky's two or three to have another baby. I think that once Franky's first birthday passes, we'll still be careful, but I won't freak out if I get pregnant again.

Because of my feelings on etiquette with other people's kids, I haven't left my son with anyone besides my hubby, for a long period of time. I know that no one will care for my child better than me or my husband, which is why I am so hesitant to let anyone watch him. And no one, besides my son's Godmother (my sister) has. That's not to say that other people aren't capable, like my mom or dad or my in-law's, but as a SAHM, there has been no reason for me to leave him with anyone yet.

Not every parent has the same feelings about leaving their babies places, and that's fine. I don't judge them or criticize them or question them about their choices. It's not my place.

What I've learned recently, is that sometimes, when it comes to being a mommy, you have to stand up for yourself over worrying about hurting other people's feelings. There are often disagreements with the way people choose to parent their children and that's fine. I just hate getting questioned or criticized for my choices, when I don't do the same to other people.

Have any of you mommies ever felt criticized or like you were being judged for the way you chose to parent your child or for the way your child acted? How did you react?
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