Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 299.

Monday, October 26, 2009.

Today started like any other Monday morning. Dylan had preschool and Jason had the car, so we were walking. I carried the stroller outside and the kids climbed in. We went along our way...

Three blocks later a lady stops me (who is coming from the other direction) on the side of the road. She is calling out her rolled down window and I have to stop the stroller and move closer to hear what she is saying - she was saying something over and over again, so I knew it must be important.

I got about 4 feet from the car when I began to hear her.

This is her:
"I saw you come out of your building, and I saw that you didn't buckle your children in the stroller. I really think you should be buckling them in. It's not safe..."

And I stopped listening. Not only did I stop listening but you better believe I started talking (as she continued to explain herself). This is me:
"Are you KIDDING me that you are telling me this right now? Are you their mother? Wow." A big sarcastic thank you, a huge roll of the eyes and in disbelief I went back to my stroller muttering about her nerve. Was she stalking me and following me as I walked the three blocks from home?

Dylan and Noah didn't understand what had happened and why I was upset. They kept saying, "What did that woman say to you mommy? Why are you mad? She wasn't very nice to you, was she mommy?" They could tell I was on fire inside.

I mean COME ON. Criticize my cooking. Tell me I'm fat. But DON'T tell me I'm not a good mother. I couldn't stop muttering, "I cannot believe her!" and Dylan was obsessed with the whole situation. I finally wanted to just stop thinking about it, but Dylan wouldn't let up. I told her, "Dylan, I just want to forget about it. She wasn't nice and it's making me angry to think about it."

Well, my ever-sensitive daughter said, "Mommy, can I just tell you ONE thing?"
"Sure," I said.
"One part of what she said was nice," Dylan responded.
"What was that?" I asked.
"The part where she doesn't want us to get hurt or fall out, so she thought we should have on our belts," she replied.
"Yeah...you're right," I cracked a smile. And she was - completely 100% right.

I am grateful for "It takes a village."

I've always heard that expression and in theory agreed whole-heartedly with it - communities should take a vested interest in the raising of our children. As a philosophy, I love it and know it was how life used to be, and still is in many cultures. But, here in my urban-American environment where I am the gatekeeper for my child's well being, I do not want anyone questioning my decisions as a parent. So, it wasn't a huge decision to not buckle them in the stroller. It was just what we did. They are 2.5 and 4.5 - not babies. They have NEVER fallen out of the stroller. I'm strolling, not jogging. And they aren't wiggly in the stroller...ever.

So, was I justified in being ticked off that lady X made a judgement about my parenting decision? Well, maybe. But maybe it was also no big deal. Maybe she was just a nice lady who really did care about children and didn't want to see one get hurt for lack of good advice about stroller safety. Maybe she had a family member who was hurt in a stroller-related incident and just feels strongly about this particular issue.

Whatever the reason she stopped me, my overreaction was far more embarrassing than her attempt at conversation. What ever happened to "It takes a village to raise a child?" Should I be so righteous about my every parenting move that I have to get upset if someone questions my judgment on stroller safety?

After thinking about it for the morning, I talked to Dylan on the way home about it again. And I told her I thought I overreacted. I told her that the lady was just being nice, and just didn't want them to get hurt. I shouldn't have been upset about that.

Dylan said, "Mom, isn't that what I said this morning?"
Yep, sometimes it takes adults three hours to understand what a 4 year old does in 30 seconds.


  1. How do you get yourself into these situations?


    Go, Dylan!

  2. wow. dylan is so great. and i still think that lady saying that to you was strange. or something.

  3. oh, the interventions of well-meaning strangers. who can ever tell their motives? dylan is so perceptive!