Friday, April 29, 2005

Nutbag Mothers: Nutbags in Real Life

Tuesday was a day for Nutbags in real life.

Jonathan was off on Tuesday, so we decided to run a number of errands. On two such errands, I ran into NUTBAG MOTHERS.

The first nutbag encounter occured at a department store, where we had tried (in vain) to find shoes for Eden's rather wide feet (if anyone knows a good store to buy nice, size 4 baby sneakers for wide feet...I will be forever in your debt. It's like trying to find the Holy Grail at this point). Eden does NOT like trying on shoes...and by the time we were ready to leave, she was VERY grouchy and starting to throw a full-blown tantrum. She began to scream and try to get out of my arms. I put her on the ground, established eye contact, and said in a firm voice: "NO."

Now, I am a loud person by nature...and when I am being firm, even more so. I was NOT yelling...but I was loud.

In any event, Eden calmed down and I picked her back up. Just as I was settling her on my hip, I hear a voice behind me saying, "NOT appropriate! Not appropriate AT ALL!"

I turn around, and realize that it is a woman and she is talking to me. I decide to ignore her, but she will not be ignored.


"Too young for what?" my husband asks. I am still trying to ignore her, but by drawing her into conversation...Jonathan has now made that impossible. Sigh.

"Too young to do that to! She doesn't understand the word no! She's too little to be yelled at! It's inappropriate!"

"Lady," my husband continues, "She's 19 months old. She knows what 'no' means. Do you have any kids?"

"I have two children!" she replies haughtily.

"Well, we have three, and we know what we're doing," says Jonathan, and turns away from the lady.

But the lady is not done.

"I don't care how many kids you have! That was NOT APPROPRIATE! She is too young for discipline!"

I am not going to argue with this nutbag. It is clearly not worth it. I simply turn to her and say, "Please, mind your own business."

The woman has the nerve to look at me as if I were being rude.

I don't know how this nutbag was raised; but I was taught to mind my own affairs and not those of others. I can't imagine confronting a total stranger in a store and criticizing their parenting. Not to mention, her protestations were just as loud as my firm "NO."

What kills me, is that had I allowed Eden to have a tantrum...I am sure some other nutbag would have had something to say to me about that. Whatever happened to keeping your damned nose out of other peoples' lives?

I can only imagine what this lady's kids must be like...if she thinks a 19-month-old doesn't understand a firm "NO," and should not be told "NO." She's a future Nanny 911 case, I'm sure. And what will the nannies teach her? To get down to the child's level, establish eye contact, and give a firm "NO!" LOL.

Anyhoo...we were far too busy that day to spend much time on Nutbag Mommy #1's issues. After many more errands, we found ourselves at the mall, trying again (in vain) to find shoes for the baby. After a little lunch, I took the baby over to the Baby Playland.

Baby Playland is a little area in the mall completely surrounded by a soft, circular couch. Inside are small playground-type pieces of equipment meant for the preschool-and-under set. It's a great place to let little ones run off some steam, or to nurse in comfort. I've used it many times, and this was the first time Eden really played and had a great time. I sat near a single father whose daughter is a month younger than Eden, and indulged in a little toddler-care chit chat.

Enter Nutbag Mommy #2.

NM2 has five kids. The youngest is a small baby, maybe 3 or 4 months old. The middle two are probably 3 and 4...and the oldest? 10 and 12 by my estimation.

Now, there is a "you must be smaller than this to play here" sign posted at the entry. This is to protect the little ones. There is a play area for bigger kids...and this was not it.

NM2 does not care...and her two oldest are clearly WAY over the size limit.

This would not normally bother me...after all, a mom alone with 5 kids has to pick her battles. What DID bother me, was the behavior of the whole clan once they were inside the circle.

The first thing NM2 does is put the baby in a pumpkin seat and prop a bottle with a blanket. Ew, ew, ew. She then begins to read a book, ignoring the baby and the other kids. The toddlers take over one of the more popular pieces of equipment and refuse to let anyone else near it. That is not too unusual for toddlers---they are, after all, the "mine, mine, mine" set. What was unusual, was the mom ignoring it alltogether.

Even that was not as bad as what her oldest two were doing: they were pretending to be ninjas: kicking, punching and spinning all over the playland, knocking down toddlers and babies in their wake. Never once did they say they were sorry, or try to help the kids up. Never once did NM2 say anything to these kids.

I pulled Eden closer to me and kept her away from the Whirling Dervishes, who had now added a new game to their repertoire: standing on the couch and running around it, knocking down adults, even those nursing small babies. At this, NM2 finally took notice and said, in a sing-song kind of voice, "Now, calm down, you two!" Yeah, they are going to scramble to obey THAT.

Jonathan then shows up, with my two oldest in tow (he had taken them to the Big Kids area). We grab Eden and leave.

In the car, I tell Jonathan all about NM2, and how glad I was that none of the kids were seriously injured.

To which Jonathan replies, "And yet, you still didn't run up to the mom and yell 'NOT APPROPRIATE! NOT APPROPRIATE!'"

We both had a good laugh at that.



At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Synesthesia said...

Even my rabbit understands the word "NO" Said in a firm voice, but in his case I have to clap my hands.
I can see if you were hitting the child, now that would definetly be inappropiate, or just letting the child roll over the floor, which I have seen at the supermarket where I work so many times.
Also, people who DON'T try to start disciplining their kids at an early age end up with little mini-ninjas mowing over kids.

At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Swatty said...

I think you handled the first situation perfectly both in your parenting and your response to the nutbag. As far as the second situation, I probably would've have said something.

At 4:39 PM, Blogger Angel said...

I have said something when a child was completely destructive or in harm's way, and I probably would have said something at the play area, but really, I'm a nice Nutbag Mother ;)

I completely agree how you handled Eden--you have to start teaching them discipline sometime!

My daughter has, at times, accompanied my son into the "little kids" area--but she is very mindful and careful around them, and usually winds up being little mommy LOL.


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