Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be President (and Other Things We Can Teach Our Children About *&^%$# People)
I think there's a lot more good in this world than we give it credit for. We're bombarded in the news with what's most shocking, most fear-inducing and most extreme. It's something I've given a lot of thought to: the idea that in the world we live in, with communication constantly at our fingertips, that random "news" or "articles" we're not even looking for pop up on our phones via apps or Facebook and interrupt our thoughts with something from the pits of humanity. Or Charlottesville. Or Trump's twitter.
Forty years ago, we'd have to choose to read our morning paper or turn on the nightly news. We'd have to choose to stay up late to watch the more sensational stuff on Dateline.
People are tense in this world climate. I get it. But people like those I've encountered recently on an airplane and in a restaurant when my baby was happy squealing in one situation, and crying in another, have likely always been how they are. The kind of people who have no empathy for others. Or who are so self-consumed, wound so tight, or are so narcissistic they think it's okay to approach a young family to tell them "your baby is going right through me. Can you do something about it and take him outside?"
I group those people into a similar category as our current president. These are the kinds of people who will serve as examples to my children of how not to behave as adults.
Our little family of five was recently out for brunch with some friends. Our total kid tally was five: two babies, two toddlers, and a six-year-old. The restaurant was loud and bustling with little kids everywhere, and after we finished our meal, I let my baby walk around a bit and he was happily "talking" to everyone with a baby screech thrown in here and there. An older woman approached us with a look in her eye that said she wasn't the typical adoring grandma-type telling us what adorable children we have.
No. She said: "Is that your baby making that noise? It's going right through me. You need to take it outside".
Then she added that she was a mother and "still!"
She must've blacked out over the years her children were 3 months, one year, 3, 4, 5, 7 and I assume a fair amount of the teen years. Or perhaps she was traveling to Los Angeles from the past and lived in 19c England where her children lived in the nursery in another wing of her estate with a wet nurse and governess to raise them.
If we had been at Patina or the Montage Beverly Hills (um, yes, all of my children have dined at both of those places), and they had been too loud, of course, I would take them out and walk them. Or hand them an iPad.
But when you choose to dine at a notoriously bustling restaurant on a holiday weekend, I think you should assume it will not be quiet. This woman was on a warpath and we were just the simplest target.
Nothing we could've said would have helped this woman to see that she was the one who was out of line. We all looked at her dumbfounded, let her vent and said: "we'd try". There are some instances where it's necessary to speak up for yourself like here and here, and other cases where the crazy is so thick you gotta know when to nod your head and let the moment pass.
"Your children are so (well behaved, cute, etc) is what I've grown accustomed to hearing. It's not always the case, but they're good kids. And my husband and I sure do care and we try really hard.
I will not let grumpy people discourage me from "socializing" my children. To learn how to act in public, kids need great examples and exposure. My kids learned some valuable lessons seeing this cray cray woman approach our table:
- Not all grown ups are right (or safe)
- Some people have no empathy
- You cannot control other people: you can only control yourself and your response
I feel bad for a person who's so bent out of shape that things "go right through [her]". Because when you feel good about yourself and you're taking good care of yourself, you radiate that. When you have inner peace, you can be a positive force for others as well.
Mommin' ain't easy. If a mother is trying and her child is crying on a plane or in a restaurant, relax, give her some encouragement if you must say anything at all, and just be grateful it's not you who is having an internal panic attack that everyone's looking at you and judging you for this microcosm, a moment when your child is the "loud one".
Because everyone's will be at some point. And as the news and our President relentlessly show us, there are worse things.
I'd like to reinstate an unspoken amnesty clause between grumpy people and parents. A basic, tried and true battle hymn of basically everyone's mother since Grimm's Fairytales was still an okay thing to read your kids to scare the ish out of them so they'd behave:
"If you don't have anything nice to say (to a parent on a plane or at a restaurant), don't say anything at all."
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