Monday, July 14, 2008

Like A Baby

I tend to avoid being one of those moms who's always sneering at other parents for the way their kids are behaving--mostly as a there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I sop to karma, but also because I generally try to mind my own business. But Saturday I found this policy hard to maintain.

I was browsing in a kids' clothing store while Hubby and SweetBabyGirl finished up in the shoe store next door* and I noticed another mom with her little girl, who appeared to adopted from China just like SBG. Other Mom was browsing, too, and girl was fretful and started crying when OM moved out of sight. I had a moment to think, hey,my girl does that too when she's tired,maybe that happens a lot with adoptees and then OM started in with this: "Stop crying! You're crying like a little baby." Which of course upset the girl more, not just the words but the tone, which was dripping with disdain.

I, meanwhile, tried to keep my face neutral. It's not so much that I cared what OM thought of me--I've given up seeking approval from Other Mothers who aren't my friends--but I thought she'd think my frown was at her girl's behavior, not at the way she was talking to her little girl, which made my heart ache. And it went on, with more talk of acting like a baby and threats not to go to the playground.

Why on earth do parents talk like that to their kids? SBG and I have an ongoing struggle, in which she wants to pretend to be a baby--often at inconvenient times, like when we're at the mall--and talks in a baby voice and refuses to walk. I tend to react by saying eh, babies are boring and being a baby is pretty dull, too. Plus babies don't get to eat chocolate. That sort of thing. But yesterday, without thinking about OM and her girl, I did something different: I just picked up SBG and said, I like you the way you are. You were fun as a baby but you're more fun now.

Because, really, since when is being a baby, or acting like one, so shameful? Most of the time they're fairly agreeable creatures, and when they're not, well, they can't help it.

Also: when Hubby and SBG caught up with me at the clothing store, OM and her girl were still fussing at each other. And Hub made one of those classic shopping-with-a-kid errors: he let SBG try on a $75 flower girl dress, which of course she loved and made preliminary I'm-gonna-cry noises when he told her she couldn't have it. (Honestly, I suspect that I didn't occur to him that a little girl dress could be that expensive--he leads a fairly sheltered life when it comes to insane spending on kids, bless him).

And what did he do? Simple: he took the dress off her, scooped her up and took her outside for a chat about how to behave in public. (Bear in mind: she was wearing her regular clothes under it--not that the little nudist would have minded her taking her outside naked, but still...) And here's the important part: I don't have to have been there to hear what he said, but I know that it was about her behavior, not about her being. Because he's a good parent, he knows to talk about behavior, not to shame her for having unpleasant feelings.

I wish more parents were like him.

* So what were SBG and Hubby doing at the shoe store? She was making Daddy try on shoes, of course, because that store specializes in comfortable shoes and all they had for kids was Crocs and Birkenstocks, which SBG dismissed out of hand as too unattractive for her own use.


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