I really don’t like giving unsolicited parenting advice to other parents. It’s pretty simple: 1) It’s not my kid, and 2) it’s not my kid. See? Pretty simple. While I may not agree with some parenting choices and I may have to silently question the type of parents they are, I also have to check myself. These are people who’s doing the best they can or they have a different parenting style from mine, and that’s completely fine.
Let me tell you the Case of the Two Bears.
I was having an abnormally shitty day. While I get my crummy days like everyone else, I really try not to let it bother me. I decided to treat myself to new makeup at Sephora. I ended up getting good face (see below) and having my second eye palette ever. Yeah, ever. (Eye makeup still intimidates me, though I’m pretty much an expert on my lips and cheeks.)
Bear was a saint. He played with my iPhone the entire time, watching YTKids videos. Sweet!
We went out on Free Admission Museum day. We stopped by Chik-Fil-A (I hate their anti-gay stance but I love their chicken) and went to the African-American History Museum. Then, we stopped by a local park to play. It was getting cold and dark, and Bear was having so much fun, he didn’t want to leave. Of course, that ended up in a tantrum, only to have to the monster tantrum inside the crowded train.
Of course, I was embarrassed. Seeing my kid who had a relatively good day only to have Satan take over his body didn’t sit well with me. But I also knew he was tired and cranky, since he’d skipped a much-needed nap. (I could never understand why kids act up when they’re tired. Just go to sleep! You’ll feel better!)
I promptly put on my headphones and tried to comfort him but it was really no use, I was just going have to ride this one out like I normally do. A stranger came up to me and asked if I was the babysitter (smile!) and I said no, I’m his mother. Then, he proceeded to give me advice:
“You need to beat his ass.”
I rolled my eyes and put my headphones back in before telling him the conversation was over. He was still trying to talk to me from a distance but I no longer cared.
A few things came to mind as I thought about his uncouth suggestion –
- Why was he certain my son didn’t have any mental handicaps?
- Would he have said the same thing if I was White?
Now before some of you roll your eyes and go, ‘It’s not about race,’ oh, yes it is. The man approached me was Black and he assumed, I was Bear’s babysitter at first while everyone else figured I was his mother. Oh, believe me, there will be another post on the looks I get being out with a light-skinned biracial son but I digress.
Let’s talk stereotypes of Black moms, shall we?
When someone thinks of a Black mother, they’re not thinking Aunt Viv (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), Clair Huxtable (Cosby Show), or Florida Evans (Good Times). They’re thinking of the most horrible stereotypes:
- On welfare
- Has multiple kids with multiple partners
I know all of these because each time I go out with Bear, I usually get a shocked look from people when they see a wedding band on my left finger and see I can form a sentence without the use of Ebonics.
As I thought about the man’s unsavory suggestion, I thought about what if I took his advice on the spot. What if I started spanking my 2 year old toddler right then and there? Do you know what would’ve happened? I tell you. Someone would’ve pulled out a cell phone, uploaded it on the web, and I probably would’ve been arrested the moment I got off the train for child abuse because again, it was a crowded train.
While some might wonder why I chose to put in headphones, for me, I know what the cause of the tantrum was. Unhappy and tired Bear makes for uncomfortable situations. I’m sure if we stayed at the park well past dark, it would’ve been the same outcome because he was tired. If I can tune him out, I will.
And let’s keep it one hundred, shall we? A screaming toddler is uncomfortable and horrible to hear. On a public metro service, it’s not the worse thing. I can recall people fighting each other on the train, or some having a conversation where every other word was a variation of motherfucker.
Or what about those who haven’t taken their meds and they’re sprouting conspiracy theories? Or the homeless who sit right next to you, knowing they haven’t bathed in weeks?
Yeah, my screaming toddler is not a bad thing after all.
So, for those who feel they have to give advice to a mother when their toddler is acting up, here’s my suggestion – mind your own fucking business. For real. You’re not paying anything towards that child’s care and chances are, you’re not going to give a damn about the child or the parents the moment they’re no longer in your sight. Unless the child is in potential harm, leave it alone. Leave the parents alone. Save your breath and fight for a cause that could actually help others instead of voicing your opinion because ‘back in your day’ things were different.
Because honestly, you don’t really care.