Saturday 3 September 2011

Look Before You Leap - Listen Before You Judge

pre·judge  (pr-jj)
tr.v. pre·judged, pre·judg·ing, pre·judg·es
To judge beforehand without possessing adequate evidence.
Ever since Joseph was born I've had to deal with people's attitudes, advice and general nosiness. Something about becoming a parent makes you public property. I found it really hard, and I overshared. Looking back I should have just lied. "Oh a brand new baby" - no well actually he's 4 months old - cue opening the floodgates, questions, prejudgements, attitude. I should have just said "yes". No matter how disingenious it felt, just say yes. 

But now, 2 years on, I'm still in this boat of people making rash judgements. I am the most friendly, open person, if you want to know something, just ask me, I'll tell you happily. But don't judge what you don't seek to understand. It's annoying, and its hurtful. I've had two occasions in the last couple of weeks that have just made me hopping mad. And I never know what to say, or how much to say. If I am too brief, I get interrogated with lots of closed questions and snappy judgemental comments. If I say too much, I get upset, Joseph picks up on it and it all goes wrong.

Situation one, I was at messy play with Joseph, it's a small group of mums with toddlers. Unfortunately for me, nearly every single toddler in attendance is an older sibling, and the babies attend. Anyway the person who was running the session was chatting to me and another parent, saying "oh you have the kids in old clothes, but yours are getting trashed". I laughed saying "I'm wearing a maternity top, as I won't be needing them they are fair game for being wrecked!" 

Well I was not prepared for what happened next. "I thought Joseph was an only child?" this woman said, raising an eyebrow at me. "Why yes", I replied, he is. "And will always be". She started on at me "Well that's quite selfish isn't it?" I looked around for support, no one who knew the story was within earshot. I explained "I have 80% chance of having another premature baby". She glared "well, being premature isn't that bad is it?" So there I was, covered in jelly, angel delight, paint and playdough thinking "come on Kylie, explain and don't cry, and really, don't hit this woman, its not worth it".

So I explained the story, and she understood and started saying about what a precious gift Joseph was and blah blah blah. If she'd just said at the beginning "oh why aren't you having any more?" then we could have avoided the whole scene. 

I find it hard now that Joseph's comprehension and language are so good, I don't want to say too much. I want to explain about his birth and our decisions over time, I don't want him to know, until he's older, about my feelings, and the fear that he nearly died, and I think that's fair enough.

The second situation was at a party. Joseph had got mucky out (the comfort blanket) but then decided to play outside. There were other parents supervising, and I got mucky to put him away before going out to watch Joseph. I felt I had to pick him up and put him away, as he could be mistaken for a rag and thrown away, in which case my life would be over.

An older lady, presumably a grandparent scowled at me "that baby must be supervised there are children playing out here". I explained quickly that I would be right there but needed to put this away first. She said I was irresponsible allowing my baby out. I looked and Joseph's friend was playing out, without direct supervision. I said to her "what about that little girl there, her parents aren't watching her". And she snapped "but she is not a baby, she's over 2."

I smiled and said "well, actually, not wanting to be rude or anything but Joseph is a month older."

I don't know what I can do, put mascara and blusher on him and make him look older? Put him in a t-shirt that says "I'm older than I look?" He was fine outside, climbing, running and playing with the other kids, he didn't need me there, not for those 2 minutes. Again the whole exchange could have been cut short "How old is he, is he ok playing on his own?"

I've just got business cards printed to promote my blog when out and about. I am seriously considering passing these randoms a card and saying, go read this, and email me with any questions!

How do you deal with random comments and unwanted advice?


  1. I've not commented before but I felt compelled too. One of the hardest parts I've found since becoming a parent is judgement from others. Wheather it be outsiders or people I know and it annoys me. I also find myself defending Layla and my parenting especially when she's having a tantrum, I should ignore comments but I find myself going "oh she's tired" etc then trying to stop the tantrum when I should just ignore it. It's part of growing up and learning but their little darling never does it, they will at some point. I don't think people know they are doing it but that is no excuse. Us parents should all help each other out, its the hardest but most rewarding job you'll ever do. X x

  2. it's hard to get over this but you have to ignore people. I am forever being picked on for being a bad mother because I have a life outside of my son. You are a great mam. Usually when people are horrible to me I laugh in their faces because I'm a fab mam and I don't care what they think. I say, "look at my son. he is happy, loving, content and love me back" no one should judge you!! x

  3. my worst moment ever (and i still cry now and marc is 10) myself and my mum where in 'mothercare' and marc was in his buggy and still tiny at 7mths old (he was born at 25 weeks and weighed 2lbs ,he was just 5lb when he came home) and this snotty sales assitant jobsworth marched over to us as we looked at clothes to infrom me loudly all over the shop 'do you know babys in those prams should be over 3mths?' ...go on love i dnt think they heard you in china..i crumpled (i had postnatal depression anyway) my mum pushed the little dude out of the shop ...everyday some idiot would feel the need to comment ooooh look at your tiny baby ..yeah thanks i so totally hadn't noticed i used to wonder is it some 'mum code' i didnt know about ? when you become a mum you get the right to automatically pass judement on the whole worlds bbys? i mean i saw some pure ugly little horrors but id never say oooooh was the d.n.a having an off day love? you keep your chin up and remeber come 10 years you'l have the kewlest kid in the class and prob the tallest (i have) and when ppl ask you randomly in the street blind them with words they clearly wnt understand , being the igrorant twerps that they are !! much love gaynor .liverpool.

  4. People are stupid, plain and simple. They say stupid and mean things are are ignorant. I blogged awhile back about "What Not to Say" - it's still my most popular post. I found that after I blogged that, at least my friends and family stopped saying hurtful things around me. They were just clueless before about how their words were sounding. With strangers, I'm *trying* to learn to not let it bother me. I also think that if someone is being rude, be blunt with them, tell them how it is, then walk away. Sometimes people need to hear how far you've come.

  5. The comments I can ignore, the questions I find hard. I really should just learn to say "is this any of your business?" Or walk away, but I am too nice.

  6. People's attitudes to tantrums are incredible! I always give a smile of consolation and whisper "that was me last week". I'm sorry but I cannot accept there is a single child who has gotten through toddlerhood without a tantrum. You are right, we should all be there to help and encourage one another

  7. Me too, I always give that little wink and a whisper. But with this post you have helped me realise I'm not alone in being annoyed/worried about peoples comments whatever that comment maybe. I wish we all helped each other out more because lord knows we all need it from time to time instead of people making ignorant unhelpful comments.