Recently I read Glennon Melton's blog post talking about how people should stick their carpe diem where the sun don't shine when it comes to reminding parents about enjoying the moment of child rearing. This got me thinking "Why stop at railing against carpe diem?" Over the years I've received a slew of unwelcome comments from strangers and for some odd reason this seems to always happens to me in supermarket checkout lines... So when I'm with my kid here's 10 things I don't want to hear from you stranger.
1) Aww, what a cute little guy!
What's wrong this this phrase you ask? How could anything be possibly offensive about praising the good looks of your child? Well nothing, if you have a little guy. I have a little girl with curly hair that's taking its time to make its way down to her shoulders. I recognize that hair length seems to be the number one indicator of gender and so I've assisted you, Ms. Onlooking Stranger, by dressing her in pink pants with little hearts all over them. That should be your tip off. If you want to compliment any child there are plenty of gender neutral things to say like, "What a cutey! or "Hey you're little one is pretty stylish!", or you could just smile, smiling always works.
2) Is she part ___?
Whatever next word you're about to say is inappropriate! If you think that a child's ethnicity doesn't seem to jibe with the parent's, as a stranger in a checkout line it's not your place to play the "Let's Guess the Other Parent's Ethnicity" game. You are just opening up yourself for any number of awkward responses from, "This baby is adopted," to "Actually she just has severe jaundice and by the way you're the most insensitive person in the world!" Even if you guess correct, big whoop, you're not going to win any prize from me.
3) Hey I don't know if you know this but she's really not supposed to be in that part of the cart...
Why thank you, concerned citizen, for alerting me that placing my child outside of the safe confines of the child seat has gravely endangered her life. Perhaps you're not aware of this but she is part of a toddler circus troupe that trains specifically on stunts involving moving shopping carts. Over the past year she has perfected her balance and hand eye coordination and is now completely proficient in the maneuver that's come to be known as the "Produce Pirouette." She has become so adroit at this feat that she tends to scream her face off anytime you attempt to strap her into the child seat in the cart, so back off lady!
4) Looks like you've got your hands full there!
Ha! Ha! How'd you guess? Could it be that I have one child on my shoulders and one hanging on my leg? Wow, this must be really amusing for you! I can't imagine how boring your other check out experiences must be compared to watching me struggle. Hey look at you! You're standing there with your hands in your pockets! How about you help me unload my cart? I ain't no sideshow.
5) Which leads me to my next one..Dumbfounded Stares: You are staring at me and I don't like it.
6) Can they eat that at that age?
Again, feigning concern are we? Let's be real, what you're really saying is "I can't believe you're harming your child by giving them a donut!" Hey a donut won't kill the kid. Unless it contains honey. Mustn't feed tots honey or they combust (at least that's what my pediatrician tells me).
7) What did daddy get you for Christmas?
Absolutely nothing. I got my child absolutely nothing for Christmas because we're not Christian, but thanks for asking.
8) Oh did you get a little boo-boo?
Oh look you've noticed the red mark on my child face that happened when she inadvertently scratched herself and has no bearings on my parenting skills or the attentiveness I give my children.
9) So where's mommy?
I might ask you where's your significant other at this time? Oh wait, is that information a little too personal for someone you just met in the checkout line? We'll then..
10) Looks like somebody needs a nap!
That's right, I'm a horrible parent who doesn't care if my child gets enough sleep. Or perhaps, I'm an awesome parent who has just spent so much one on one time with my kid that she's a little tuckered out at the moment. Or maybe, I'm one of those parents who has had a really busy day trying to run errands and look after my child, and yes, we are approaching nap time so I need to race home so the kid doesn't fall asleep in the carseat because then she won't get her full nap, which means then she'll be off for the rest of the day, which means I'm going to have a horrible dinner tonight with the food that I'm now purchasing.
Follow Rob Sachs on Twitter: www.twitter.com/robsachs