I know for a fact that I’m in a bit of a sensitive state at the moment, but I have the strong feeling that it’s not just that that makes me feel like I’m being watched and judged regularly when I am out with my daughter, whether or not my husband is there.
There are times I can easily shake it off and just tell myself I’m being silly and people are just glancing the way I’ve always glanced at noises and movements around me. But there are other times when I’m just not so sure. It really harkens back to the days of my youth when I was bullied and picked on for so many years. With that kind of thing happening, it was extremely hard to not think that every little quiet exchange, whispered thing, or random glance in the middle of a conversation wasn’t some kind of negative thing about me.
I’ve come a very, very long way since then and while I have the occasional passing thought and fleeting paranoid feeling, it quickly passes and becomes nothing more than a momentary uncomfortable warm burst of air before sliding back into cool comfort. But with the kinds of stories I hear from friends, read about in articles, and from time to time witness myself, it’s hard to not fall back into the old, insecure mindset. (Thanks, school-yard bullies, thanks.)
But in an attempt to really get more of a handle on this thing, I feel like writing about it will help me. If it helps someone else, all the better. But you can be sure I’m doing this for selfish reasons first. You’re welcome. 😀
I have felt for a long time that really addressing issues head on rather than just tossing them aside because they are negative, is a far better way of dealing with things. It brings the issue itself into a better focus, gives it a bit of tangibility and something for me to work with, instead of against. Some people may consider it “picking it apart” but honestly, sometimes picking something apart is the best thing you can do to it.
Sure, it’s not good for me to allow myself to feel insecure in myself, and my parenting, and all that. I recognize that, and support the sentiment. But I don’t agree with just basically giving a big, unseen “you’re number one” one fingered wave to the people who upset me. There is the idea that no one can make us feel a certain way, and that it’s really our fault for allowing ourselves to feel that way. And again, I understand the sentiment in that, but I think it’s greatly flawed.
We absolutely have the ability to change our perspective on something and change how we feel about things, and change how we react to things. But we have to have some kind of positive thing to draw from in order to know that it’s even possible in the first place. But the onus isn’t completely ours to change it. The responsibility of this is also on other people. (Yes, I know, it’ll never be a perfect world.) And I could sit here and go all couch-psych on this and relate it back to my bullied childhood in a long, rambling and likely very boring post. I could probably, and would probably, also relate it to all sorts of other pseudo-psychological issues in society and socializing.
I will focus on one point, though. Yes, we can learn to deal better with the feelings that pop up from whatever might be causing said feeling. But perhaps we should be making a more proactive move to help other people stop being the source of that issue for us. It’s certainly no secret that people look, stare, sneer, roll their eyes and make comments either to whomever they’re with, or to the person with the child. We’ve all heard stories. And many of us have our own.
Perhaps instead of ignoring them, or even getting rude back, or whatever other approach has been taken, perhaps people should be taking a step up, and going at it from a polite, smiling but firm approach. To let people know that to be quite honest, we don’t give a flying, flaming rat’s patootie what you think about whatever is going on. Though, of course…not in those words. There are times when unsolicited advice is an ok thing. There are far more times when it is not appropriate at all. And most people have absolutely no idea how to deliver unsolicited advice to people, let alone strangers in a way that is in any way actually helping anyone. So, just don’t do it.
The amount of hypocrisy in a lot of it is really ridiculous. The worst is when it’s coming from people (unfortunately, largely mothers) who have kids with them as well who are acting/behaving much worse than the person they’re addressing or making snide remarks about. When it comes from people who obviously have had time to have their own kids and those kids are grown and possibly have their own kids, it just makes me shake my head. Look, you’ve been there. Sure, it may have been a different time, but dealing with kids hasn’t changed all that much. Some kids do great, some do not. Some kids have bad days, no matter how well-behaved they are normally. And people who have had kids themselves should be far more appreciative of that fact. Appreciative, understanding and capable of realizing that perhaps it’s just one of those days, and the parent is doing the best they can.
(Don’t get me started on people who really don’t actually teach their kids basic life/social skills. That’s another rant for another day, and probably a completely separate blog.)
When dealing with infants, guess what? They cry! Can’t really help that. And if you see someone is trying so hard to soothe a baby, and is frazzled because it might just be their first child, and already look embarrassed to death, don’t wear your rear for a hat. Give them a smile and let them know that it’s really not that big of a deal. If you really can’t handle it, go the hell away. Your inability to be understanding for whatever reason is an inexcusable catalyst for being a jackass.
For you people who stare, guess what? We do see you. Hey glancers, we notice you too. You’re not being sneaky, or inconspicuous. We have eyes in the backs of our heads, or did you not get the memo on that? Take a look, and leave it at that. Is it really in your best interest, or the interest of anyone else for you to shift your focus to those with children? No. It does nothing for you. It does nothing for the parent(s). It does nothing for the people you happen to be with. Butt the heck out.
And for those of you that stage whisper. Really? What, do you still think you’re in high school? Were you that person that bullied others as a child? Were you the one that gossiped, cajoled, and spread rumors about people? Guess what, whether you intended us to hear or not, we likely did. And no, it doesn’t make you cool. It makes you “that guy”. Grow the heck up.
Now that I’ve vented a little. 😀 Back to the actual discussion.
Perhaps we shouldn’t take such a passive approach to these things. Perhaps we should screw up our own courage and just make eye contact with these people. Really make eye contact. Hold it for a few seconds. Let them know we really do notice. And if we’re not already in a pitchfork wielding, laser beams from our eyes kind of mood, smile at them. Or smirk. Whatever is your style. If someone actually comes up and tries to say something, or offer unsolicited advice, smile and say “Thanks, but I didn’t ask you.” Sure, it may sound confrontational, but hey, we’re not the ones that started it. I do think these people need to be made more aware of the kinds of effects they have. Regardless of their intent, whether it be good, neutral, bad, indifferent…
Now, if someone is seriously trying to be helpful, that’s different in my eyes. I’ve had people who you could tell were seriously just trying to be friendly and helpful. Those people I can honestly appreciate for who they are. They are the people who make me think of the saying “it takes a village”.
But for those that are just doing it because they can’t keep their pie-holes shut? They need to know that they need to keep their pie-holes shut. Carry some pie around, to shove into the hole when they feel the need to say something where it’s not their place. A passing comment, however it’s meant really doesn’t generally come off as anything other than “I want to smack that….” I’m sure you can fill in the rest of that to your heart’s content.
Just because I’m young, doesn’t mean I’m clueless about raising a child. Just because you happen to be witness to a mere ten seconds of whatever is going on with me and my child, doesn’t mean you magically know in that moment what’s best for my child. You do not know me, you do not know my child. So really, just keep your comments to yourself. They aren’t appreciated.
Next time you want to open your maw to let some drivel flop out, don’t. Take a second to think about whether or not you’d want someone coming up to you and making a comment, judging you and how you do things in a split second. A drop in the bucket of a random stranger’s life.