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)