Thursday, June 2, 2011

Judge For Yourself

"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods." -Albert Einstein

One of the many perks of being a parent is the freedom to judge other parents. Few things are more annoying to me as a parent than when a person who doesn't have children talks about what parents are doing wrong.

I admit that I too did this before I became a father... definitely to my sisters and possibly to a cousin or friend. My wife and I would occasionally say things like, "we're not going to do that when we're parents.

I get it, childless people... you think you have all the answers. But you don't. Maybe you think you're smarter because you get more sleep than we parents get. But you're not.

I dare you to keep your patience in the pizzeria when you're running on fumes after a stressful and exhausting day of work and the little person to whom you devote your life, love and sanity refuses to listen to a word you say because he wanted a bag of potato chips and you had the nerve to say no and now he's throwing a fit on the filthy restaurant floor.

Do you think you can do that? I've seen it done. It's impressive. But we still slip... we still lose it sometimes. Parenting is stressful.

And when you finally do become parents... and you're truly ready to judge... there's a big rule.

The rule is you don't do it to someone's face. This isn't American Idol. We're not performing for you and looking for immediate feedback. We're parenting at the Improv. But it's not just for a night. It's every minute of every day for the rest of your life. You never know what's going to come out of your child's mouth. But once they've said it you need to respond. And you need to respond well... and calmly.

On Monday I picked up my daughter at daycare. They were having a book fair. Translation: entrapping parents into shelling out $10-$20 because all we want to do is collect our child and his/her things quickly and without drama.

I was looking forward to this because I had scouted out some of the books on the Friday before. There were a couple I wanted to push on my daughter. One by Al Yankovic, of all people, titled "When I Grow Up." (We didn't end up getting this one).

After I found her on the playground, we went inside to get some books. In my mind I had a budget of $20... I figured three books. I never told her that number, however. She had said on Friday that she wanted a princess book she had spotted. Gag. I mean... fine.

As we entered the building, she immediately spotted another book instead- a non-princess one. It was actually a book that teaches writing and how to tell time. So I said absolutely.

Then she asked, "Daddy may I have three books?" She had her eye on a Barbie book as well as the princess one.

Did she read my mind? Did she know my plan? I didn't have time to ponder these existential questions because immediately I spotted a mom who was looking at books herself. I caught her mouthing, under her breath, "May I have three books?" Emphasis on the three... not on the may.

I immediately said "yes" since that was my plan all along. And as I caught that mom, pouting her lips and shrugging her shoulders judgementally at my perceived inability not to spoil my child I said, "at least it's not a candy fair." Because I can't let you get away with that crap.

Are you really going to judge me to my face like that?

Listen, I'm a blogger. Obviously. I put myself out there to be judged. I get it. But I'm also judging myself in the process. And I really try not to judge other parents because I really am no authority because this is the first time I am raising a four year-old girl. You may fall into a rhythm, but everything is always new.

So don't judge me to my face. If you must, go home and do it in private. Or feel free to post a comment below.


  1. Bitch. Kudos to you for raising a four year old to use "may I" when she asks for something. We encourage that in our house, too. And here's the thing: If a kid asks for something that they really want and you don't have a problem giving it to them, you're all in agreement with what's best. If she said, "Aw! I wanted three books!" I'd say things were different. You can't let others' perceptions affect your judgment as a parent. Good post.

  2. Nothing bothers me more than being judged as a parent. No one knows m child like I do. It's that simple.
    Great post, and definitely not douchey. Not at all, imo. :)

  3. OH MY GOSH. I can't believe you spoiled your daughter with books. Just you wait, she's going to love reading, and it will be ALL YOUR FAULT.

  4. I get judged to my face all the time as a parent, but it's always good judgment, because I'm awesome like that. ;)

    Seriously though, I'm one of those people that sucks at hiding their judgment in public. Tact has never been my strong suit, that and social skills. lol But I know this, and while I try not to be so obvious about it, I fully expect to be called on my behaviour. And it's happened, once. I rolled my eyes at a lady for allowing her kid to eat food out of a bulk candy bag (where you pay by weight, and she hadn't paid) and she called me on my judgment. I apologized, was suitably embarrassed, and life went on.

    I think more people need to call us out on our judgment. It's easy enough to judge someone anonymously or over the internet on someone's blog, but it takes it to a whole new level to judge someone to their face.

    Wait. That makes me sound like a total ass. I take it all back. Keep the judging online and anonymous. ;)

  5. A. Men. Brother.

    You may be a blogger, but you're a parent first and parents are continually forced to make decisions in the face of the constant threat of near disaster.

    And here's the thing: those decisions include the right to change your mind in the moment, especially when the moment is going well. The stupid woman doesn't even realize that your daughter was politely and enthusiastically asking for MORE of something that is good both for her and the world at large. She wasn't asking for toys, or video games or clothes or junk food, she was asking for books.

    So screw her, and go read to your girl while she still wants you to!


  6. If you're going to spoil them with anything, then books would certainly be a good choice. What you were doing wasn't spoiling though and, either way, this woman had no right to judge. Apparently she is missing something in her own life.

    Childless people who give child rearing advice are the worst. I have tried nodding and smiling but now I just tune them out.

  7. What's so terrible about buying 3 books? Crazy.

  8. Screw that lady. We're talking about books, dammit! Oh, heaven forbid someone reads too much. Great post, brother.

  9. Thanks, "birdbath." Love your blog, dude.


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