Monday, December 17, 2007

You Know What? It Does NOT Take A Village!

Warning: This will be a very ranty post. This happened hours and hours ago and I'm still irked.

So, I took the kids with me to run a few errands today. Nobody wanted to wear a jacket and it was about 42 degrees. I chose not to argue the point because unless there is a significant chance of personal injury (i.e., frostbite or heatstroke) I never engage in clothing debates (as you can see by the pictures on our FamBlog, which will be updated this century I promise!). I just don't. We were going from the warm house to the warm car to the warm FedEx/UPS place to the warm grocery store to the warm car to the warm house. Yes, outside was cold, but really, our exposure to the cruel elements was quite minimal.

Also, I think that the best way to convince someone to make a better decision about listening to Mom's coat recommendations is to experience the consequences of a poor decision firsthand. When they complain, I never miss the opportunity to point out cheerfully that they would have been much warmer if they had chosen to wear their coats.

So as we were entering the grocery store, an older woman passed us on her way out, and felt the need to address Morgan with these words: "Where's your coat? It's cold outside! Why don't you have a coat on? You need a coat. Where's your coat?" Four times, she felt the need to say the word "coat."

Honestly, the child was wearing long sleeves and long pants and shoes (which is a feat in itself). Not like she was wearing only a diaper, which is her usual mode of dress inside the house.

I was really really annoyed at this woman, because of course she wasn't really talking to Morgan, she was passive-aggressively addressing me (and in front of my kids). What she was really saying, and I'm sure it satisfied her to say it, was: "What kind of mother are you to allow your child not to wear a coat in 40 degree weather?"

Maybe I am deficient as a parent in the matter of outerwear. But it's none of her business. I neither desire nor require her opinion, commentary, or assistance in the matter.

I completely ignored this woman's comments and moved the kids further into the store, which I'm sure was probably the appropriate response. But I have vented my irritation, not to mention amused myself, by spending all afternoon dreaming up things I could have said to her. Here are some of my fantasy responses (please take with a grain of salt, I'm not really that evil--or am I?):

  • It's not cold; we're from Alaska.
  • Sprechen Sie Deutsch?
  • Merry Christmas, [insert insulting expletive here]!
  • Mind your own beeswax.
  • You raised your children; kindly allow me to raise mine.
  • If you think I'm abusing my children by not forcing them to wear coats today, feel free to call DFACS and report me. Otherwise, shut up. (a personal favorite)
  • Morgan! Run! A Stranger!
  • I'm asking Santa to put you on his Nosy and Naughty list.
  • [Bursting into tears]: We can't afford coats!
  • We're raising our kids to be survivalists. Usually, they're naked.
  • They're being punished.

You get the picture. By the way, I'd like to hear your suggestions.

It does not take a village to raise a child. Or rather, it does not take a village to raise my children. Raising kids takes loving parents who have explicitly identified important parenting principles that are in line with their personal values and who strive to apply those principles conscientiously and consistently (although sometimes imperfectly). Guess what? Ryan and Morgan have those parents. I'm confident that they will turn out okay, even if they don't always wear their coats.

I feel better now. :o)


brendan said...

How about: "Oh, I'm sure your kids have their coats -- oh, wait. You're too old to have kids."

brendan said...

Or, to quote Jerry Seinfeld:

"Shut up, you old bag!!!"

And then steal her marble rye for good measure.

S said...

I took all three of mine out today, four month old baby included, without coats. Add me to the bad mommy list! I've never really understood the point in coats if you aren't staying outside anyway. They are so bulky and hard to strap into the car seats with them on. Fortunately no one said anything to me and never has.

Monica said...

I regularly go outside with inappropriate clothing (flip flops, etc.), and I don't even live in Atlanta. I live in the freakin Rocky Mountains at 8300 feet. 42 degrees? Balmy. I went for a hike in sweater coat the other day with subfreezing wind chills. Good for stimulating the immune system, I say.

It's so annoying that people like this have to exist.

I like your Alaska/survivalist argument, myself.

Anonymous said...

Was she married to our wrinkled old prune?!


Monica said...

You know, now that you mention this... this type of "do we look like idiots" advice is everywhere in society, too. Heck, you can't even turn on the local weather in winter without a fifteen minute schpiel on wearing gloves, hats, and scarves. Summer news? Be sure to wear your sunblock and carry lots of water on that hike... yadda yadda yadda. That is not NEWS. Crazy.

Rational Jenn said...

Thanks for the moral support! I think Seinfeld's response would have been bee-you-tiful!

S--you are so right about the carseats. It's a huge pain, and I'm always in a dilemma about whether to leave their coats off and crank up the heat or stuff them into the carseat and allow them to swelter in the coat. Thanks.

Monica--as always, thank you! My blood has thinned somewhat since moving to Georgia, but I still don't think spending 5 minutes outside in 40 degrees is all that bad. And I'm pretty sure that nobody ever got frostbite at that temperature either. You're so right about people offering unsolicited advice in all different areas of life. Why do people do that? I never feel the need to say some of the things I'm thinking out loud to perfect strangers. Sure, I think them, but I never say them!

Kelly--I thought of our wrinkled up old prune a little while after I wrote this post and I think I should devote an entire post in his honor very soon. This lady wasn't as disgustingly mean as the WUOP but she was definitely of the same ilk. Isn't "ilk" a lovely word?

Anonymous said...

In the spirit of the holidays:

To the tune of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", sing "No one gives a shit that you are speaking. You're a moldy fruitcake. Leave my kid alone or your wig I will take...."

To the tune of "Greensleeves", sing: "What child is this who wears no coat; Yet, still minds her business be'er than you, you goat..."

To the tune of "Away in the Manger", sing: "Here at the grocery a child wears no coat. I raise my third finger to you as I gloat. I'm not sure why you care, you sick silly thing. But I'm not raising fingers to show you my ring."

To the tune of "O Holy Night" sing, "You are a hag! A crazy, nosy bag! Does scaring kids make you think that you are not."

And, the finale to the holiday montage:

To the Tune of "O' Christmas Tree", sing "Go Fuck Yourself, Go Fuck Yourself, You really need to fuck yourself!"

~Karen (I'm going to start the Holiday Song Book for obvious inc.