Shocking as this seems, the other day, in the middle of the
afternoon, a fantasy of mine came true. Oh, I don’t mean the
fantasy. Although there’s nothing wrong with that, mind you. But
I’m talking about the other kind: revenge.
Shocking as this seems, the other day, in the middle of the afternoon, a fantasy of mine came true. Oh, I don’t mean the passionate running-away-to-live-with-Jude-Law-in-a-cottage-by-the-sea type fantasy. Although there’s nothing wrong with that, mind you. But I’m talking about the other kind: revenge. I mean, there I was at the park, leisurely watching my 9-year-old climb up the slide, and here comes a young mother with a new baby dozing in the stroller. A new baby
And let me just say that, as a mother of a 9- and 12-year-old, there is nothing I like more in the world than finding someone who knows less about raising children than me.
Call me strange, but I couldn’t wait to walk right up to her and start saying things like, “I think the baby is hungry” or asking, “What do you mean she’s not eating bowls of cereal yet?” And, “Why isn’t the baby wearing a hat? It’s almost mid-October, you know.”
Of course, I wasn’t always this way. But there’s something about being the recipient of several years worth of unsolicited advice that somehow changes you in inexplicable, mysterious ways.
Face it, when you venture out of the house with a baby, people who normally wouldn’t dare speak to you suddenly can’t wait to point out ways you can improve yourself as a parent. It’s as if they instinctively know you can’t program the VCR or balance the checkbook so, therefore, you can’t be trusted to take care of a child all by yourself.
And let me just say that no place is safe. Once you have a child, no matter where you go, little old ladies will come flying out of the woodwork to give you pointers on all sorts of things like how to cure gas and avoid constipation. Like the time my 3-year-old daughter had a tantrum in the grocery store because I wouldn’t let her out of the cart so she could pick out all of the food herself.
“Why don’t you just give her what she wants?” inquired a sweet, little old lady standing behind us.
Much to my credit, I didn’t yell. I mean, you can’t just go around raising your voice to sweet little old ladies. Instead, I smiled politely, and wondered what she would say if she knew that what my daughter really wanted was a chance to hurl all off the canned corn off shelves, squeeze the bananas, eat a blue Popsicle from the freezer section, and catapult her Gymnastic Barbie from the seat of the cart into the produce scale.
I must admit, a part of me was tempted to throw my arms out to my sides and say, “You know, you’re absolutely right!” Then whip out adoption papers from my purse and transfer my daughter into the old lady’s cart. But I’m not that mean.
Then there was the time I ventured to the mall with my 5-month-old son and was stopped by complete stranger. “That baby is bored,” she announced. “He needs something to play with.” So, like a good mother, I took out his educational activity wheel from the diaper bag and put it on the tray in the stroller. Then five minutes later I was stopped by a different woman who announced that my baby was being “over stimulated.” So I tossed the wheel back into my purse and took out a frozen teething rattle. I thought that would be the end of it until yet another woman approached, shook her finger accusingly at me, and said, “He’ll poke his eye out with that thing” and THEN you’ll be sorry.”
So, you probably understand why I could hardly contain myself when I saw a mother with a new baby at the park. Let’s face it, I couldn’t wait to set her straight by telling her all about the danger of babies not wearing hats, the magic affect of clothes dryers on colic, places to store extra binkies, my conclusion to the cloth versus disposable debate, and how to wind up a swing without waking the baby.
But truth be told, when I looked down at the baby all that came out of my mouth was: “Gee, what beautiful blue eyes he has.”
Granted, it wasn’t a very helpful or especially insightful thing to say but, you know, some day she’ll thank me for it.