The woman gave me a stank eye. You know the one, where you see the slight curl of their lip in disgust, maybe you even hear them clucking their tongue at you. It was clear she didn't approved of...well, me existing in her space with my unwashed self and my two unwashed children. How dare my children be squealing with delight at the sound of their own clapping? How dare they laugh at the silly faves their mama was making at them!
Target is for SERIOUS PEOPLE ONLY, according to that lady. And my children and myself were not welcome in her world. We were all too rough and rowdy, it would appear. I've gotten that look before, so I ignored it. Brushed it off and let it give me no worry.
But then she spoke. "If you can't control your kids, you shouldn't be having any."
Blink. Blink blink. Did she just even say that?
If I could go back in time, I'm sure I could come up with a clever comeback. But in the moment, I was so shocked. I said nothing. I was speechless. Which is saying something (or not) for a national speech champion.
I've always known that Negative Nancys roam amongst us, waiting for an opportunity to spoil a good time had by anyone but themselves. It's just a rarity to be verbally bitch-slapped by one of them. What was her point? What was she trying to accomplish with her nasty words? Was she hoping my kids would suddenly become mute in the face of her sourpuss attitude? Has that worked for her before? Heck, if it has, maybe I should try being a total Debbie Downer!
Or, maybe, she's speaking as a lonely soul who longed for children but didn't have them. Perhaps she grew up in an oppressive household where her youth was more valuable as a form of indentured servitude, where she didn't get to enjoy her own childhood. Where giggles were rare, cuddles even rarer. This is all conjecture. I kept walking and muttered something incredulous to myself, the sting of her words left hanging in the air behind me.
No matter her backstory, she failed to realize one significant reality - my children are not my possessions. They are not mine to use as an accessory. Children are not a tool to achieve something rooted in my own self-interest. They are their own people. They, just like each of us, has the right to self-determination.
I have influence, at best, but never control. Heck, I can't even promise that I'll wake up tomorrow morning! How am I to feign control over two people that are not myself? Again, INFLUENCE. My demeanor can help distract or soothe my children when they're upset. Silly faces can make waiting in a grocery cart a little more enjoyable for all of us! I can plan our errands so that the kids don't have a full-on hunger or nap-deprivation meltdown while I'm waiting in the checkout line. I'm not above feeding them snacks to keep them quiet, or letting them watch a few moments of Blippi when we're at a doctor's office.
But one thing I cannot do? Control my children. I don't want to control them. I don't want to own them. They are not possessions - they are people. And they have their own wills, their own goals, their own dreams. My job as their mom is to help them, not hamper them.
Have you ever encountered someone who seems really out of touch with normal kid behavior? Did you have a good comeback for them? Give me your best lines on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3 with #KidsArePeopleToo