Okay, people. I have been . Time to get real now.
So here’s what bugs me.
First of all, there’s the kid’s quiz show.
For some reason, people seem to feel the need to interrogate children. I think they think it’s conversation, but it’s not. My classic personal example of this was when I was 8, and meeting my new step-grandfather for the first time. After all the basic pleasantries, we all sat down to dinner, and the very first thing he asked me? Not my favorite color or toy, or even what I was learning in school. Instead, “So, what are the seven social sciences?”
My family thinks this story is hilarious. I can tell you that at 8, I did not. I didn’t even understand the question. And to this day, I can’t answer it.
People ask my child to spell words that she’s never heard before. To do math she hasn’t learned yet. To name rivers and oceans when she hasn’t had geography in school. This method of “communicating” with children runs a very high risk of leaving the child feeling stupid and the parent feeling defensive. Oh, and irritated.
Then there are the other parents who know it all.
This second group of peevers can be friends or family or people you know from school. They can be parents of an older or grown up child, or of multiples, or even people with a child younger than yours, but they have recently read a book. In any case, they think they have all the answers.
They remind me of what a good parent I was before I had kids.
Each individual kid is different, and each tears your parenting theory to shreds. Yes, M&M’s potty training may have worked for your kid, but my kid learned that game in less than a day, and could thereafter squirt out a tiny pee at any moment that she desired candy. And yes, you put your baby to sleep on your stomach because you were told to, but the current recommendation is to put them down on their backs. Times change, and each kid is different, and you don’t know my circumstances, so please keep your advice to yourself unless I ask for it.
Which leads us to my final, and most irritating, pet peeve. These are the strangers who feel the need to comment negatively on something that they don’t understand.
My friends who have special needs kids get scolded for their “bad” parenting when their kids have a meltdown in public. My sister-in-law gets informed in Costco that she can’t afford her twins. I get told (repeatedly) that my single child would be happier with a sibling.
What do all these events have in common, besides raising my blood pressure? The person making the comment does not know anything about the situation they’re commenting on.
The kid having a meltdown is parented very well, thank you. He’s just overwhelmed by the lights and sounds, and needs a break he can’t have right now because the shopping needs to be finished.
My nieces are wanted children that are well funded. I can’t even begin to imagine where that comment came from, or how much I would like to introduce that person to the back of my hand.
My daughter is an only child by our choice, but the people making these comments don’t know that. I can only picture my emotional agony if we had been trying for a second child for years, and these people made the same comment.
These peeves are just the ones on the top of my head today. I’m sure every parent can name more, and share many examples. I’m equally sure that I do things just as annoying to other people (next week’s column, perhaps?). My goal here, though, is not just to rant, but instead to remind people to think before they speak.
Take a moment before you talk to put yourself into the other person’s shoes, especially those wearing kid sizes. Then maybe, just maybe, don’t say anything. Maybe just smile instead.
After all, smiles never peeve anybody.