Did I ask for your thoughts on my kid, random lady?

Image

A pleasant-enough-looking older lady strolled over to where we were picnicking today.

“Can I ask you something?” she smiled.

“Sure,” I obliged.

“How old is your baby?”

“Oh, she’s 17 months,” I replied.

“Oh, she’s TINY!!” the woman gasped.

“For a moment there, I thought she was a MUCH younger baby, but then she got up and WALKED!! So I just HAD to come over here and ask how old she is.”

Immediately, and characteristically, I launched into fumbling, apology-mode.

“Um, according to the statistics, she’s actually quite tall for her age. She’s quite slight I suppose, but she eats heaps!”

What a really wanted to say (what I should have said) is:

how dare you come nicey-niceing over here and proceed to put down my child, and, by extension, me? How, in any way, is this either pleasant or helpful? Do you realise that when you say someone’s kid is small, you’re basically saying either: (a) that she is developmentally backward or (b) I don’t feed her enough. Don’t you realise I’m a first-time Mum, so I’m extremely anxious, you bitch!

But I didn’t say any of this.

And I was furious with myself for the rest of the afternoon.

I should have jumped to Magoo’s defence, and to my own.

It would be as though I had walked up to someone really short and said: “oh shit, for a moment there I thought you were sitting down! How come you’re so titchy?”

But for some reason, when it comes to random, unwarranted and inexpert commentary, your child is public property, subject to community consultation.

*****

Am I being ridiculous? Has this happened to you? How did you respond? 

*****

 

4 responses to “Did I ask for your thoughts on my kid, random lady?

  1. IT’S SO FRUSTRATING. If you’ll forgive what seems like blatant blog-flogging, I wrote a similar post with five ridiculous things people have said to me about my kids. Read if you want, but don’t if you don’t! I mostly just wanted to say YES. And you’re not overreacting. As soon as that bub is in your tummy, it’s public property. Touch the bump! Comment on the child! Roll your eyes at my parenting!

    http://emhawker.blogspot.com.au/2013/12/ridiculous-things-people-have-said-to.html

    • Thanks Emily! That is reassuring to hear! I just read your post too. Far. Out. Unbelievable really. Maybe we should make up a list of awesomely witty come-backs that we can just dish out as necessary…! Any takers?!

  2. Oh my goodness – the things people say.

    Here’s my take on this. I live in a place where people are a lot more inclined to make these comments about my kids. In Australia people are relatively reserved (believe it or not). In Singapore it’s open invitation.

    But there’s two sides to this, because “minding your own business” cuts both ways. When I take the kids onto a bus or through the mall in Singapore, folks help me out. They give up seats much more freely, they open doors, they’ll step in and entertain the kids at the check out much more often. All these things happen in Australia, but not to the same extent. And when you’re out with two young children trying to get something done, it does make a huge difference.

    So sometimes when people approach me it’s to make dumb (and sometimes judgemental) comments. But actually they’re just doing it in the spirit of community and (sometimes) concern and they’ll make a misstep here and there but you’ve got to pick your poison. For me, I’d rather put up with the nosey comments of an involved community than struggle on my own while everyone “minds their own business”.

    So I’ve learned to respond to the intention rather than the words. The words I’ll accept or discard according to my own standards, with or without the input of those I know and trust.

    • Again, sorry for this late reply. You have a much more evolved take on this than me, clearly! And I’m glad to hear that this sort of community feeling is prevalent where you live. I suppose the woman did mean it in some sort of inquisitive, rather than malevolent, way. And I guess all people have brain burps now and then too…I’ll keep your words in mind. I guess as a first time Mum I often feel much more exposed to these kinds of comments.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s