It is amazing to me how many people seem to think they know how to parent my children. As a New York mom I am constantly getting advice from perfect strangers on the street, on the subway, in the bus, and just about anywhere on how to raise my children, or if not advice, comments on what is wrong with my children. I have been told that my kids aren't dressed warmly enough, that I need to be careful because they will fall, that they are hungry and I should feed them. The list goes on and on.
My favorite story is when Gavin was a little baby. To preface this story, Gavin had a large bump called a hemotoma when he was a baby. It was quite large. Anyway, I was carrying him in the baby Bjorn and I was walking in the street and this lady who had to be at least 90 walked past me with her cane and as she walked past me she yelled and pointed with her cane at Gavin's head and said with scratchy, nasal tone, " You gotta get that head fixed." She said it very matter-of-factly. I have to say I laughed pretty hard about that after the fact, but at the time I was quite sensitive about it.
At playgroups the moms compare notes on comments we receive and what responses we should have given instead of the weak ones we usually give. My favorite response that my friend Amanda came up with was for us to say to the person giving the unwanted advice, "Can I get your number? Because I will need to give you a call the next time I need to know what to do with my child?".. I haven't used it yet, and I probably won't. I know that we should just smile and say thanks and move on, but it is hard to do that. As a mom, I am constantly second guessing myself anyway. We do our best and we know our children the best.
Anyway, yesterday, it happened again. I was riding the bus home after picking up Gavin and his friend Jane from preschool. Eli was with me as well. Eli woke up right as it was time to go, so I put him in my carrier, on my back and went on my way. I knew that he would be getting hungry, but we had to pick up the kids, and I knew we had at least 45 minutes before he got hungry. Anyway, on our bus ride home all was going well until about 10 blocks from our stop. At this point Eli started to get a little fussy. But, we were almost there and he wasn't even crying hard, just fussing a bit. A lady next to me in the bus proceeded to tell me that he was crying because he was uncomfortable. "Ummm, Thanks", I said. I knew that it was more that he was hungry, but she didn't know that I wasn't going to tell her that. I hoped that we would be done at that point. Nope. She continued to badger me and tell me that the carrier was uncomfortable and that "the carriers are practical, but that they weren't good for the baby." Ahhhhhhh! I tried to be nice, but at this point I started to get upset. I told her, "Please, I know my baby, please leave me alone. I say sarcastically, "I am sure you are an expert." She continues to tell me that she has children and 14 grandchildren and that "HER BABIES NEVER CRIED." I tell her sarcastically "WOW, a baby who never cries?" "I have never heard of such a thing." "That is amazing!" She continued to tell me that, "if I take care of them they won't ever cry." Ahhhhhh. I know I should have bit my tongue. I tried to just say thanks and move on, but she kept going. I know this won't be the last time I receive unwanted advice.