Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mother-Hater Part Deux

Mother Hater #1: Construction Worker

We are standing in front of the bagel stand. Phoebz and Lollz have bagels from CBS, I am there to get a donut to try to take care of my nausea (I swear). Lolly decides she wants a bagel from the stand, with cream cheese on it. I say NO, you already have a bagel. So she looks at me and throws hers on the sidewalk.

I tell her that is the only bagel she is getting, so she better pick it up.

Construction Worker (CW) tells her she shouldn't eat that, that I can't let her eat that.

Me: Why, you think it will make her sick?

CW: Yeah, there's Dog Sh#t on the ground and stuff, she can't eat that. (to Lolly) What do you want?

Lol: Bagel with cream cheese?

Me: No, please, she is fine with that bagel.

CW orders her a bagel and cream cheese and then picks out a juice for her.

I SHOULD have walked away. I SHOULD have explained that she deliberately threw her bagel on the ground and this was a lesson in anti-bratism. I SHOULD have, but I didn't because I needed to stand in that line so I could get my donut.

I spoke no further about it to Lolly.

Mother Hater #2: Angry Grandma

Usually when we ride the subway I can tell when my children are bothering another passenger. I try to be sensitive to our surroundings most of the time. I don't plug in my ipod or read my book, I actually parent my children.

Today it was crowded. My kids were getting into each other's business a bit, Lolly screamed a few times. I asked her to please be quiet, and pointed out that people around her were trying to read etc. When they started squabbling a bit, I sat in between them, a tactic I use quite often. As I was sitting down Angry Grandma (AG) shouted in Lolly's face something like: STOP IT!

Not sure the exact words but it didn't matter, her intention was quite clear.

I looked her in the eye and calmly asked if I could help her with something.

AG: You could discipline your kids.

Me: Would you like me to move my daughter so that she is not sitting next to you? (I didn't wait for an answer, just moved her to my other side so that I was sitting right next to AG).

AG continued to page through her paper with very angry, turning-the-page movements.

Me: Are you a mother?

AG: Yes

Me: Do you have some tips you could share with me about how I might discipline my children?

AG: You don't INSIST they obey you. (that wasn't advice, that was criticizing me)

Me: How did you insist your children obey? Did you hit them? Put them in timeout?

AG: (now looking me in the eye) I would NEVER hit my children.

I decided it wasn't a good time to share with her that I do spank my children (one in particular guess which?). Instead, I said:

Well, it's a difficult venue, the subway train, so if you have any ideas, I would love to hear.

I made eye contact with a few other passengers who had their eyebrows raised I believe in sympathy for me, Lolly asked if she was in trouble and I just kept staring at AG while she paged and ignored me until she got off the train.

Upon reflection I found it interesting that CW and AG both verbally abused (CW with his language, AG with her rage-in-face) my children, whilst criticizing my parenting, trying to save them from me. I thought both jumped to conclusions so quickly about my skill as parent. I also wished there was an APP for giving an intruding stranger a glimpse into the relevant/current challenges involved in this trio of mother and daughters and how damaging their words might have been to me, say on any given day last year?

It's bothering me enough to buh-log about it, but I am also just in awe at the intrusion today. Kind of reminded me of the guy at Costco that one time.


Saundi said...

Your daughter looked adorable this morning on CBS and what a great job she did!

Was just wondering... do you consider Lolly's actions today her "normal" self at this age, or do you think she was affected by her big sis being in the spotlight? I was just curious as I have been surprised to see how jealous our 4-yr-old can be of our 2-yr-old lately. I'm sure (and hoping) it is just a stage, but have found that in our situation, going out of my way and giving her extra affection and undivided attention during the day has made a big difference, even if it is just a few minutes here and there.

Obviously the construction worker has never "been there" in terms of parenting a child and Grammy apparently cannot remember it and/or is just a miserable person (I would bet on the latter).

Turbo said...

I would have been tempted to ask granny if she lashes out in a similar fashion toward the crazy vocal homeless guys/breakdancers/scamming panhandlers/subway preachers. I'm guessing that she probably doesn't (since she is still alive).

Being that she didn't have any advice for you, maybe you could have suggested that she purchase an iPod to block out the noise. Or if she is too technologically challenged to operate one, buy some earplugs. I mean, granny, this IS the freaking NYC Subway.

As for the construction worker, Maybe you can just take comfort in the fact that you gave someone an opportunity to do something that made them feel good about themselves.

Tandy said...

I can totally relate to this! Oh my goodness. First of all, I find some solace in the fact that it is not just *my* children that behave like that. I have one that sounds very similar to Lolly. I also have read your blog for several years and have only had the impression that you are an amazing mom that does her best parenting her kids.

Ann said...

if only people could 1. keep their noses in their own business, and 2. see the whole picture. you are a much stronger woman than i am to deal with them so well. and a much better parent-way to control yourself!!

Kage said...

Saundi, Lolly is a mystery. She changed suddenly around 18 months and remains. She has gotten so much better since I have come out of my fog and really followed through, but if I do not follow through 100% of the time, her behavior gets hey-wire. I don't sense she is jealous of Phoebe, if anything it's the other way around. Phoebe doing the show yesterday was really good for her, and Lolly was cool with it.

Turbo, I knew it was a guy writing...I did actually have that thought about the CW. He seemed to REALLY want to do a good deed, and that is probably most of why I didn't have the mama cougar boil up and ACT. I also have the IPOD thought all the time....if you don't like that my children are living, breathing human beings who make noise, then plug in the phones.

Tandy, the funny thing is, I sort of pride myself on disciplining them. 7 bedtime, FEW exceptions, practicing the violin an hour everyday (summer is more lax), time-outs, follow-through, FERBER technique....but I'm not perfect, and there are days that I'm TIRED.

Ann, ha! I actually find it fun to keep my cool (also a parenting choice right? behaving civilly as a good example to the ever-absorbing chillies) and kind of test the aggresive stranger, see what they will do. It kind of puts the control of the situation back in my hands. In some ways, its fun.

kristie sessions said...

oh sheesh. NYC what is up!?!?! Why is it so hard to parent? its like you don't have enough to do without having to combat other people like that. it sounds like you did well though. i would have been proud to watch you stand your ground. i should take notes...

Catherine said...

don't let these morons upset you! you are a good mommy!

D said...

Here's what you say in an instance like this:

"Wow, that is a pretty impressive display of impromptu parenting. If my children's behaviour hasn't already been fixed for life, a few more hours with you would probably cure any remaining ills. What do you think would be reasonable hourly rate for your services?"


"Well, you have saved our little family from certain destruction... for now. I worry that as soon as you leave, we'll fall apart again. Would you consider sticking around with us... forever?"

Just throwing out some brainstorming ideas for you.

Vicki said...

Those people are what my husband and I call "life-haters", maybe not the construction worker as much, but the snarky elder lady. Just want to make people feel bad, not at all helpful. You responded well, though-I am taking notes.