Being A Mother Has Made Me More Judgmental

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In many ways, giving birth to my first child made me so much more understanding of parents. I used to think negative thoughts every time I sat next to a crying child on a plane. Then God gave me children who were not uniformly perfect on planes. I used to think that people who co-slept with their children might be dangerous and/or unable to separate themselves from their spawn. Then God gave me a child only able to sleep while in close proximity to my heartbeat. And in general, I’ve become much more understanding of the difficulties of navigating strollers through city streets, parents being tired or distracted or out of it, and the way little kids can wreak havoc on housekeeping.

But in other ways, I’ve become so much more judgmental.

It’s sort of like how being a waitress will simultaneously make you more tolerant and more demanding in restaurants. Anyone whose worked for tips at tables knows that sometimes there’s a snafu in the kitchen that will delay a meal or that a particularly heavy rush can lead to confusion over drink orders. But waitstaff also know that some wait times are unacceptable, some meals should never be served and some attitudes should never be expressed to a customer.

That’s how I feel about those leashes that some people put their kids on. I’m totally cool with this if you have a child with an honest-to-goodness behavioral problem. But I do secretly judge those parents who simply can’t teach their children not to run away or into city streets. I’m not saying that some kids aren’t rambunctious or poor listeners or that disciplining them to control themselves is easy. But still. It’s a leash.

Here are a few other things that I’m more judgmental about:

Parents who negotiate with their children. Just yesterday, I heard a father in the park tell his daughter not to stand up in her stroller. “But Dad, I really want to!” she whined. “OK, just this once,” he said. Are you freaking kidding me? Never, ever negotiate with a terrorist or a toddler. I knew that before I had children. But now that I’ve lived with them for a few years, I just want to shake the parent and point out how illogical it is to reward a child for whining. Even better, my friend told me he was recently getting his hair cut in a barbershop. This little boy got his hair cut and then was playing with a toy. My friend figured the boy and his mother were waiting for another family member as 20 minutes passed. Then he realized that the boy got to keep playing with the toy simply because his mother didn’t want to make him mad. She kept saying, “Are you done? Do you want to go now?” And the boy would say, “NO! I AM PLAYING!” The mother would retire meekly for another five minutes until she asked the kid again. This happened three times until finally she said “Do you want to go get ice cream?” That’s not how parenting works.

Parents who fail to teach their children table manners. Is there anything worse than hearing some snotty kid bang his freaking spoon on the table non-stop while you’re trying to eat? Or hearing some kid have a temper tantrum at the booth behind yours? Or even watching a family quietly eat a dinner because Sally and Johnny have been sedated with an iPad or DVD player? Your job as a parent extends to teaching your children how to eat out in a civilized fashion. I’m not saying my children are perfect. They’re not. Not by a long shot. However, the moment they make someone else’s dinner uncomfortable, they get in trouble. And they’re learning and they’re able to eat at pretty much any restaurant now. It’s not the presence of a tantrum or a banging spoon or whatever that bothers me, either. That stuff happens. It’s watching some parents do nothing about it. Chaps my hide. And yes, I sometimes have a horrific headache after trying to manage my children at a restaurant, but I know it’s going to pay off in the long run when we have nice meals as a family for years to come.

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