Parenting, Whine.

Drive-By Parenting

This is how he goes down stairs

Sometimes I’m just blown away when I realize many people ARE NOT LIKE ME AT ALL. I’ll see someone do something, or hear someone say something, that I can never in a gagillion years see myself doing or saying. This is actually quite rare because I’m the queen of empathy. Even people who live lives and have beliefs opposite of mine, I can usually relate to them on some level. Maybe even understand exactly why they’re different. I just simply recognize it’s not me. I may not agree, but I can usually at least understand where someone is coming from. It actually drives my husband crazy that I’m like this because this often places me in the FLOORMAT mode where I’m likely to get trampled on. Comes with the territory, I guess.

But sometimes…I just can’t understand it. At all.

We were at the Botanical Gardens yesterday – LilZ, myself, NikkiZ and AndyZ. There was a treehouse that AndyZ was working his way up by crawling up the stairs. (He’s still not comfortable with walking up or down stairs.) LilZ was at the top encouraging him, I was at the bottom. It was basically a one-story staircase that was quite wide, but encased in ropes. Not solid walls. Yes, there were gaps between the ropes, but nothing that would be easy for a kid to fall out of without being squeezed a bit. And LilZ and I were both within reach as AndyZ was making his way up so even if he got close, we’d be there in a millisecond.

Cue Mom walking up the other side of the stars with her kid who wasn’t much older but was walking instead of crawling. She pauses, doesnt even look at either of us, just points at the ropes next to AndyZ and says, “You REALLY should be here helping him because there are holes RIGHT THERE and he could fall.” And then keeps moving. Never once even looking at us or even adding a smile to soften the blow of her assaulting parenting advice. As a matter of fact, she used the most aggressive and rude tone humanly possible.


I’ve had people encourage me to do things their way before, but everyone usually acknowledges that is a tricky territory and therefore tries to sugarcoat it. Or at least be polite about it, and smile a bit to ease what could be considered nosey and rude. There have definitely been those, “Oh honey! Be careful! Your kid is being risky!” type moments before but it’s always attached to a smile and a polite assumption that maybe you didn’t notice your kid’s risky behavior. I’ve never had someone just essentially come by, point out that I’m doing something wrong when I’m standing right there watching my kid, and then walk off without making eye contact. It was so strange. LilZ was just as offended/confused. We’re RIGHT THERE. I’m usually overly paranoid on playstructures, so I was very shocked that someone obviously thought I was being risky. LilZ is always having to encourage me to give the small kids more freedom to fall (“They’ll never learn!) when they’re at the playground. But that moment? Short of carrying him up the stairs? I was being as careful as even I thought necessary. They whole thing was just…strange.

So – I’d love to hear your stories. Has this every happened to you? I’ll admit I was so shocked it dulled my anger a bit…but I was still ANGRY. Don’t get me wrong. I got over it a second later when I got away from the lady, but for those few moments? I was equal parts SHOCKED and IRRITATED. I mean, this has happened to all of us on the internet, but in the real world? This was a first for me.

More risky behavior on the swings. Care to comment?

28 thoughts on “Drive-By Parenting”

  1. I would take absolutely no notice of that silly woman! I think that some people are always ready to criticize and be negative.

  2. I think I would have been tempted to loudly point out to my older son that that woman was showing a good example of what someone who’s rude and nosy is like and he should always remember not to be like that woman over there.

    What, that’s not mature?

  3. I guess it would be bad role-modeling had you screamed, “Come back here, Bitch!” across the botanical gardens and then kicked her in her belly, but it sure as hell would have made you feel better. 🙂

    And I would have laughed my ass off. 🙂

    Hang in there, sister. Your kids are wonderful and so are you.

  4. I’m reporting you. Geez, some people.

    Sorry we didn’t see you yesterday. The place was packed, wasn’t it??? We made it to the 12:30 raptor show and the kids explored the playhouses a little before we had to hurry home. Too many other things planned yesterday. But we bought a membership and will be going back. Joel and Noah (mostly Joel) want to see the treehouse coming in June… the Ewok-themed one. Joel is totally into Ewoks.

  5. Oh shoot… my attempt to be funny didn’t show. Why am I not surprised??

    The “I am reporting you” was supposed to be encased by fake tags: “snark” and “/snark”. That’ll teach me to try humor when there’s no preview function in the comment box.

  6. I’ve gotten the mommy drive-by in person… FROM THE PEDIATRICIAN’S NURSE! She didn’t like that I have much more of an “attachment parenting” style than she thought I should. I let T self-wean — from both breast (about 11 months) and bottle (2.5 years, though from about 12 months forward it was strictly at sleeping times). I *still* let him have a pacifier when he is hurt or going to sleep (yes, at 4. I feel like he *needs* it for something… though if he hadn’t refused it so long ago, yeah, I’d still let him nurse at this age). We also co-sleep…he doesn’t fall asleep without snuggling with me ever. The nurse asked me, I gave her that info (this was more than 2 years ago mind you — he was TINY) and she told me point blank that I was doing it all wrong and to stop all of those things! Her reason, “He’ll never learn.” I was so upset that I said nothing. I wish I would have voiced my first thought (which I did to Mr. W’s uncle when he said something similar about the lowercase in our bed): “He’ll never learn? What will he never learn? I suppose he’ll never learn that his parents aren’t going to comfort him. I suppose he’ll never learn that he has to fend for himself. But he will learn that he is loved, how to be compassionate, that parents should give everything they can for what each child needs. Your child might not have needed this. My child does.”

    I have to admit to the passive-aggressive type of mommy drive-by that I *have* done… In public, with the lowercase, seeing something someone else is doing… I have LOUDLY explained to my son exactly why what he was seeing is dangerous and why we *NEVER* do that. I can’t say that I feel exactly bad about it, but there are more tactful ways to handle that situation. And now I’ll go hide my head in shame.

  7. Zoot — Are you kidding? I am the gal who did not put up baby gates until we got a PUPPY. I have been getting the Squinty-Eyed Looks for 4 years now, so I just shrug. I want my children to be adventurous and not scared. Usually, I just say something along the lines of “Oh, he’s fine!” and leave it at that. What really freaks people out is that I actually let my kids get out of arms reach or even !gasp! eye-sight.

    Miss W – I have known tons and tons of co-sleepers. Believe me, they ALL learn how to leave their mommies eventually. My husband even managed to have the strength to leave his home at the age of 18, to never come back, eventually leaving his home country forever. Even though he was a co-sleeper.

  8. I want to find this woman.

    She is probably the same woman who got on to me in the Chick-Fil-A play area when Tony was younger and told me to be more careful because we didn’t want to break the other leg.

    Never once did she ask why he was even wearing a brace on his leg. Like maybe he was born WITH A FOOT DEFORMITY. And not that WE JUST STOPPED WATCHING HIM AND HE BROKE HIS FREAKIN LEG.

  9. I guess at least you don’t have to interact with her again – one of the ladies at daycare (the only one my son doesn’t LOVE) does this to me… not really drive by at that point…

    I like NG’s answer… what, is that passive aggressive?

  10. In bizarre instances like these, I try to remember that maybe that woman had something very disturbing/traumatic happen to her and/or her child(ren)–and that perhaps she hasn’t yet recovered. And then laugh it off. It’s an awesome opportunity to demonstrate to your kids a positive response to such utter rudeness (which you totally did–you are always considerate).

  11. Glad I wasn’t there. As you know I still haven’t matured in situations like that but………..that picture of LilZ and Andyz on the swing is one of my absolute favorite ever (EVAH)!!!

  12. My thought was the same as Steffany’s, that there may be more to the story … but I can definitely understand how that would make you feel angry! The whole no-eye-contact thing is a little weird, too, and almost dehumanizing. Boo to rude people!

  13. This happens a bit with me because I am all about letting my kids run, get hurt, eat dirt, and all that jazz. In fact today at a birthday party, some of my hubby’s family gave me that LOOK when Sam dropped his hot dog on the ground then picked it up and ate it all while running around after the big kids. Or when we go to the park and my darling falls off the slide-I don’t run frantically over there. I make sure he’s okay and he continues on.

  14. I’m sorry, that was VERY rude. I’d have straight up told her to mind her own business. (of course, if that were me, that would be the moment my kid took a tumble). I could understand if you weren’t around, but geez. You were obviously there, as was his brother.

    If you ask me, trying deliberately to tell someone how to parent when the child isn’t in danger or there is no need, is just inviting Karma to give them trouble-making kids.

  15. So, it’s not the same thing, but today we were at the playground and Sam had a stick. He’ll be 4 in less than 2 months, and he doesn’t really play guns or swords at this point. So, he had a stick and he said Hi to this older woman, and she said “Oh, you have a weapon.” I heard her say it and it REALLY bothered me. Why would you assume a child was using something from nature as a weapon? Why would you even SAY that? So then he was saying he had a weapon even though he doesn’t know what that is.

    I don’t understand why other people feel the need to say ANYTHING sometimes…

  16. Eurgh, I hate this!

    I’ve had a parent with a small child come up to me at the playground. My daughter was going down the slide with me at the top, my husband on the side and her big brother at the bottom. We were all within arms reach, like you were with your son.

    She thought she would say “Wow, that IS NOT safe! Your daughter might fall down or off the slide.” Complete with a huuuuuge sigh.

    THEN, she felt the need to make a comment like “And with sooo many kids, I don’t know how you keep an eye on them all –eyeroll– .”

    I couldn’t believe it. I would never say that to anyone!!

    I’ve never had anything happen to me like this before, but I always remember it when I’m at the playground…

  17. I had a big ugly dad (not still angry or anything) at Chuck E Cheese make a comment one time. We had one of those backpack bear/leash things on Noah. The dad & his daughter were in line behind us. He said to her “I wonder if they have a shock collar for him too.”
    Noah is only 3 but he looks like a 5 year old. And from the outside, you can’t tell that he has a whole host of issues. Severe ADHD, SPD, Autism… all of which make a place like Chuck E Cheese impossible for him normally. But with the backpack on, he can be allowed to explore but it keeps him SAFE. And keeps other kids safe from him (he’s big & fast & not careful!).

    What irks me the most is that I was so shocked that I didn’t say anything. It’s only now that I can think of 10 things that I SHOULD have said to him.

    People need to keep comments/advice to themselves. There is probably more to what you’re seeing. And those flippant little comments can hurt for a long time.

  18. You were doing exactly what a parent is supposed to do, Encourage our children to experience life. Yes, if he’d fallen, you would have felt bad, but the fall wouldn’t have been bad. Plus you would have been there to catch him! How do our children learn if we don’t let them?

    That being said, I need to apologize to the young mother in the library that told her infant she was going to put sanitizer on his hands, and my immediate response was, “don’t put it in your mouth!” The mother looked at me like I was nuts to think she’d let him do that, and I bet she doesn’t come back to the library. I’ve felt awful ever since……

    If your younger kids grow up like their big brother, you will have once again had success. He is such a nice guy to everyone, which is so important in this world.

  19. Lil’Z is absolutely right. Kids need to learn to fall, and to fail. Obviously you’re not going to stand by while some kid does a swan dive off a 15 foot roof, but 99% of playground falls are painful at worst. The other 1% you probably weren’t going to stop in time anyway.

    I’m always amazed at how over-protective so many people are. Do they think that kids are made of glass?

  20. Hmm… Moms like that drive me crazy… I was in a similar situation the other day at McDonalds when a mom walked by and told me that fast food wasn’t healthy… well DUH! But kids love McDonalds… and I’m not a bad mother for giving in every once in a while… don’t worry about her!

  21. I had to check the known wear abouts of my MIL because she would do this. I’ve been scolded (because, isn’t that how it feels?) by people in the past and I just want to give them the REASON or my EXCUSE or “SHE JUST TOOK OFF THE HAT – SEE, it’s RIGHT HERE in her HOT LITTLE HANDS!” Because the idea that anyone would question if I was putting my child in harm just puts me in a spot of because DUDE I would NEVER. People.

  22. In fall/spring/winter in California, I constantly received comments on my son and his lack of ‘appropriate’ clothing… I am from Canada, and I KNOW that my son doesn’t need a winter hat and coat when the temperature is 10C. His fall coat and light hat are just fine, thankyouverymuch. The worst was in San Francisco where a woman swore that he was going to get hypothermia… LOL!

  23. Kim, this exact thing happened to me this week. We were waiting at an appt and Lila was standing up in her stroller. I was sitting next to her and she was just doing it because she was bored. Anyway, a man came over to me and, maybe it sounded worse than he meant it because of the German, said “it would be a pity if she hurt herself.” Hmmm. It would be, but what’s going to happen with me right there?

  24. Maybe her child is more accident-prone or clumsy than yours, so she was projecting her hyper-vigilance on you, not realizing that AndyZ is more capable/stable than her child.

    I was cautious, but accident-prone, as a child and as a result am constantly surprised by my kids abilities. I don’t believe it’s appropriate to be following my kids around throwing pillows in their path to soften the bumps along the way. If I did, they’d also be wrapped in bubble wrap! Kids need to fall and have accidents in order to know where the boundaries are and the consequences of pushing them. We’re there to make sure that major catastrophes are averted.

  25. I’m with you. I am raising two independent adventurous boys that learn by doing and experiencing. Good for you in letting your kids be kids!!

    I constantly get looks from people for letting my 10 month old crawl everywhere, he is much happier getting to experience the world instead of watching it perched in my arms!

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