Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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I'll Be The Judge of That

I believe we all know the feeling.

Your blood pressure spikes.  The back of your neck heats up.  Words rush to your mouth, bubbling up from the deepest, darkest, snarkiest part of your boiling soul.  The words fight, beg, plead to be let loose, but you grit your teeth and press your lips into a thin, humorless smile to hold them back.

You know the feeling.  It's that feeling you get when someone is judging your parenting.

Judgy McJudgersons are everywhere.
Sometimes it's the neighbor calling oh-so-helpfully  over the fence that you're probably going to kill your baby with a case of the Mongolian Death Flu if you absolutely insist  on taking her for a walk without putting a hat on her.  Hey dummy, it's 60 degrees out here.
Sometimes it's another mom at play group casting you a snide sideways glance when she pulls out organic apple slices and sparkling water for her child's snack at the same time you whip out a snack-size bag of Doritos and a Hi-C juice box.  Back off, I haven't been able to leave the house, let alone go to the grocery store, for a month.  You're lucky I didn't fish a snack out of the garbage can.
They're at Target dialing Child Protective Services while your toddler's throwing a tantrum.  Look Judgy, he started it.  I'm the one getting screamed at because there are no more Goldfish crackers.  Where's MY sympathy?
They're at the playground tsking as you hover over your kid too much.  FYI, I'm not helicoptering - I have to stay right behind my kid to hide the fact that her diaper is leaking and I forgot to bring the diaper bag.   Of course then there's always someone there to judge you for that, too.
Sometimes it's your own mother (no, I'm not talking about YOU, Mom - it's hypothetical)  questioning whether you're absolutely sure her Darling Angel Grandchild isn't watching too much television, and wouldn't it be nicer if you entertained Darling Angel Grandchild with some wholesome crafts and possibly taught him Latin instead of fooling around on that silly old blog?  (Again, I'm not talking about my own Mom here - she would never say that.  Because I told her the kids already speak Latin.)

Anyway, it's an unfortunate truth that there will always be other adults out there who'll be quick to make assumptions about our parenting ability based on 0.02 seconds of observation.  We've pretty much come to expect that.

What I didn't expect was to be judged by a 4th grader.

Let me back up a bit.  I volunteer at the kids' school.

I know, I'm a saint - actually they tricked me into it, and it's only 25 minutes one morning a week, but I sound like a better mom if I leave that part out.
I supervise the kids outside the school until the teachers are ready to take them to the classroom, so the students don't get in a fight or set a fire or shave anybody's head or do whatever kids do when no Authority Figures are around.  I showed up with Maddie on my hip, her little socked foot sticking out from under the blanket I'd wrapped around her.

Almost immediately, one of the 4th grade girls said, "Excuse me,  but where are your baby's shoes?"

I cut her a look that I hoped said, Watch the tone, missy,  and replied politely, "She doesn't have shoes."

Apparently unable to drop it or mind her own business, she gave us a distasteful up-and-down perusal and continued, "What do you mean she doesn't have shoes?  You obviously must've just left the house in a big hurry or something."

At this point, several things were running through my head.  I have no doubt we looked like we left the house in a big hurry, because we did.  Maddie's nose needed to be wiped.  She had mango in her eyebrow resulting from her very animated refusal to eat it for breakfast.  As for myself, I hadn't showered since Easter.  And no, Maddie was not wearing shoes.  Still, what right did this little brat have?  Maybe I was feeling a little touchy and getting overly defensive, but I couldn't help feeling like she'd crossed a line.  Maybe it was her sassy tone, or the smirk on her face as she eyeballed us, or her friends standing in a semi-circle beside her, waiting to see what would happen next.  Whatever it was, I let the words percolate and spill right out of my mouth.

"No, I mean she doesn't have shoes, as in she doesn't own any shoes.  She's a baby.  Babies need to learn to walk in bare feet for stronger muscles and better balance; the only time they wear shoes is if their feet need protection, and since we weren't going mountain climbing or walking through hot coals this morning, I thought socks would be sufficient."

She Hmphed and turned away, but I continued to think about it.  Was I overreacting?  It sure seemed like a lot of know-it-all sass-mouth from a 10-year-old girl speaking to an adult.  I replayed what she'd said and how she'd said it in my head, and determined that I'd definitely be horrified if one of my kids spoke to anyone that way.

So I was left to wonder - what kind of parent would let their kid behave like that?  Did they encourage it?  Was she one of those ballerina-princess-precious girls whose parents consider her rude comments to be a sign of intelligence?  Do they describe her flippant attitude as "precocious"?  Do they think that a 10-year-old speaking to an adult like that is a sign that she's mature beyond her years?  Because where I come from, that's just considered disrespectful.

Oh wait - did that sound judgy?

Hey, I'm not perfect - I get judgy too.  And sometimes I release some snark on 10-year-old girls.  But only when they deserve it, and I'm tired, and I really need a shower.  Please consider clicking below to vote for me anyway... :)
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Jen O. said...

I can't stand when pre-teens (and younger, even) sass-mouth adults. I would never have even THOUGHT to speak like that to an adult when I was younger. And I don't mean speak at all (my step-grandmother had a strict "children should be seen and not heard" policy that I never agreed with, even remotely) - conversations with intelligent young ones can be entertaining and enlightening. But to bring the sauce? Not cute. Yeah, I'd blame the parents, but that's what I do.

The Third Partier said...

How about: I'm about to bury my foot so far up your sass that I'll be walking home with no shoes on also.

Or a simple "Mind your business, Junior."

So many replies begging to be uttered, but I liked yours. That girl's lucky you held back.

Dad said...

When things are looking bad just imagine having great grandma Dorothy dropping by for an unannounced visit! There...doesn't that put things in perspective?
You're welcome!

RobynHTV said...

@JenO, same here - there's no WAY it would've even occurred to me to sass when I was 10. And I don't think that's considered "old-fashioned," because I considered that, too (like maybe that's just the way "modern" kids are these days). But no, I'm pretty sure we're still supposed to be teaching our kids to be respectful.

RobynHTV said...

@ThirdParty - ha! P.S. That's why I wasn't getting on J's case at dinner last night about saying he didn't know why but he just didn't like that one girl in his class - same girl. I was thinking, "Right on - me neither!"

RobynHTV said...

@Dad ::shudder:: I hadn't considered that prospect! Too true, that's one thing I don't have to deal with - though after about 10 minutes with her I probably wouldn't have any self esteem left, so maybe that'd make me immune to it?

Stacey said...

I would have lit my own eyeballs on fire before talking to an adult that way, when I was 10. Or 24.

And even if I had been a sass mouth, it would never occur to me to be snotty about some random baby's footwear. Little weirdo's mother probably has a foot fetish.

RobynHTV said...

@Tumbleweed, I snorted when I read that - "I'd have lit my own eyeballs on fire" - HA!

I wondered why on earth she'd focus on the shoes, too. I mean, she had plenty of other material - Maddie's crusty nose, my slap-dash ponytail, mango smears... Why the shoes? The baby's feet weren't about to touch the ground anyway. Sigh, I've given up on trying to figure her (and her suspected weirdo of a mother) out.

Kimberly said...

You should have said this:
"Well YOUR Daddy said that he was going to buy the shoes when he got his paycheck."

Hee hee. Could you imagine her going home to her Mom and saying that DADDY had to buy some other Mom's kid some shoes...muwhahaha

RobynHTV said...

@Kimberly - oh my, my, my, you are deliciously evil! I'll keep that in mind for next week in case smartypants has any more comments for me! :)

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