Saturday, September 13, 2008

Judgment Day

So many things going on in Mommyland these days. Mostly to do with me being judgmental of other moms even though I really don't want to be.

Example One:
Today we went to a birthday party of a child in Bambina's preschool class. Some moms stayed, some left. One kid (the one who constantly acts out in class) arrived...with his nanny. I feel for this kid on so many levels, because I can see that he is a sweet child underneath his total lack of impulse control. I've seen him lose it in class, and I can tell that--beyond being destructive--he is beside himself, not knowing how to get himself pulled together. And when I see this, I don't see a kid with undiagnosed ADD. I see a kid who has been getting zero help at home with basic childhood emotions. Because he CAN pull it together for the teachers, but at home (during his birthday party last year) it was effing bedlam and his mom was all, "What are you gonna do, huh? Boys will be boys." At school dropoff when she does dropoff, his mom is always yelling while he's crying for her not to go. She was yelling, "Get off me! I've go to leave! Get off me!" This kid so desperately needs adult help to channel his emotions into appropriate behaviors, and he clearly succeeds when that help is given. But it doesn't seem to be given. And then today. Arriving with a nanny. On a Saturday. The nanny of course left and then this kid had to poop, so he was standing in the potty of this activity center with his pants down around his ankles needing help with wiping and--oh dear god--there are so many reasons I cannot wipe another kid's butt these days, issues of legality being only the most minor one. But I swear my heart broke for this boy as I went to get the birthday kid's mom to figure out a solution. Luckily she's classic Israeli and is all, "Well, let's wipe his butt then!" No issues, no gross-outs, screw the lawyers, just straight-up mothering, no questions asked. And thank god. Because this poor boy was in a situation I would literally sit myself down and cry about if it was my kid.

So--Am I an a**hole that I have some made-up rule in my head that a kid should not be nannied on a weekend? That his parents of whatever gender should be taking him to social events--and at the very least having a plan for the incidence of their child needing to relieve himself?

And speaking of making up rules. Am I an a**hole that I don't want my kid to play with another girl in her class after only two playdates? Here's my reasoning: this little girl gets very mean over the smallest things, and when she gets mean she gets VERY mean. Like, beyond what a 4 year old should be able to conjure up verbally. And she throws stuff and hits. And I'm thinking that I can't protect my kid from everyone who comes her way, but surely I can protect her by not putting her in situations where someone is likely to hit her or throw stuff at her? And--again with my anti-feminism--the mother. Oh my god the mother. I can tell she's mortified when her daughter acts out. I see that, and I can tell they don't hit in the home and whatnot. But beyond being all, "I'm so sorry! She's not usually like this!" she does nothing. And then I'm in the uncomfortable position of "do I discipline another person's child while that person is standing right next to me?" And here's the thing: she keeps saying "she's not usually like this!" but in our three interactions together in school and outside school, her daughter has hit or thrown something at Bambina every single time. Seems to me her daughter IS usually like this. Or am I being unreasonable? The first time it happened I thought, "all kids have bad days." The second time it happened I was starting to become concerned, especially when I considered that Bambina just does not hit other kids no matter how totally undone she is, so it can't be something that "all kids" do. The third time I was already figuring out how to wrap up this playground date, get my kid out of there, and never get together again. So, again: am I an a**hole because I don't want my kid around a seemingly nice lady's kid? I asked Bambina if she is mean in school. She said that she usually is fine, but that she gets mean when her mom is around. I don't even know what to think, but I do know that I don't want to play with them again. Am I a jerk?

And speaking of me being a jerk. I was speaking to a mom in Bambina's class. Her daughter is very tall for her age, and her mom said, "Well she didn't get it from me!" So I said, "oh. Is your husband tall?" And--shame on me after all my rants about clueless people assuming biology in these here pages--she said, "Oh no. xy was adopted, so her height is genetic; just not from us." I was so appalled at myself that I just said, "Okay, I am so sorry that I am one of those people I complain about. I just did to you what I hate others doing to me. I am so sorry." Luckily she was cool and said that it was no big deal seeing as our kids would be friends. But I made a mental note to remember that for a brief, inglorious, ignominious moment I was that clueless stranger inquiring into another child's gene pool just for chatty conversational purposes. And made a mental note to cut some slack to the next person who asks me something intrusive (as long as they don't do it in front of Bambina; no mercy for those folks, I'm afraid), because there but for the grace of god go I.

Which, now that I think about it, might be the best way to approach those first two situations as well.


St said...

Ugh, that poor kid. My oldest was sent into the bathroom at church once, had an accident because she couldn't get her pants undone and the teachers never knew about it. I could have cried.
What I've learned about parents that have too little time with their kids is that they can still be good parents. So whatever issues this kid's mom has, not spending time with him is only a part of that. What I've seen is that it's about parents who are present when they are there, even if they're not there as often as they maybe should be.

Anonymous said...

That's not being judgmental. That's being right! I'm heartsick for that little boy. Good thing I'm not there. I'd kick him Mom's behind!