Well, I now know for certain that there are at least 30 people who think I am a shitty parent.
Sam was almost out of clean diapers. I put the laundry together and got his stroller out, figuring we’d walk to the post office after starting the washers and pick up a package that was waiting there. Sam immediately climbed in and tried to buckle himself.
My first mistake was thinking I could put the heavy laundry basket on top of the stroller and have Sam walk downstairs. He got out happily but when I put the basket on top he started screaming. I thought about it, and opted to try to articulate his feelings for him since he wouldn’t talk. I suggested that he was angry because the stroller is HIS, and he wanted to ride in it. He started to calm down a little. Since I kinda thought he had a point, I decided to push him in the stroller and carry the laundry. This was NOT EASY, but I’d committed to it and there was no way I was going to try to change the deal again.
We started the laundry and I tried to walk out of the laundry room, but I’d forgotten that Sam gets very anxious about the laundry basket. He seems to think that we should not leave it, which is entirely reasonable but really annoying. So he carried it. While in his stroller. It was totally hilarious. I have pictures.
So we went to the post office, where the line was HUGE. Fortunately, the guy getting packages asked if anyone else had a slip, and I did, and so we got to bypass the line. Unfortunately, Sam wanted to get out of his stroller. I know from past experience that when he is On The Loose at the post office, he runs straight for the door. Which leads outside to a busy intersection. Fun! However, I got him out. It seemed like a good idea at the time–we’ve been working really hard on getting him to ASK for things instead of just yelling, and he asked very nicely. But when I wouldn’t let him push the basket toward the door, total meltdown ensued. He was screaming so loudly I couldn’t hear anything else. I sat down on the floor and held him tight, talking to him. A woman nearby glared at me.
Oh! I forgot to mention the best part! The recent weird-ass weather has resulted in mosquitoes. Sam woke up covered in bites and his eye swelled up again! The other one this time, for the sake of symmetry or something. So he’s got a fat, red eyelid on top of the screaming fit. Now, I KNOW that this is not a serious thing. He has sensitive skin and is reacting normally. If he had hives, trouble breathing, or obvious discomfort I would get some Benadryl and call the pediatrician. But truly, he is FINE. He just looks awful because his skin is so fair.
Finally the man returns with our package and I carry a screaming Sam over to the window to collect it. Then I put him down and give him his basket. Of course he stops screaming, and the glaring woman decides to give me her totally unwanted opinion: “I think it’s OK for him to play.” I refrain from saying what I really want to and merely say, “He would run outside.” She then says, “Oh, he has temper tantrums.” Which is about as helpful as when people stop me on the street to tell me, “He has red hair!” As if I might not have noticed. I again bite my tongue and we leave. Only when we get outside, Sam doesn’t want to walk toward home and has another screaming fit. A woman with a little girl about a year old stops and asks Sam what’s wrong. This does not bother me at all, and in fact I appreciate her concern. She asks me if he’s OK and I say, “He’s mad at me.” She tells me that her daughter had a fit in Blockbuster. “I was so embarrassed!” she says.
I am starting to feel better when some cunt walking past stops and demands to know what’s wrong with his eye. I tell her it’s a bug bite, even though I want to tell her to mind her own goddamn business. She repeats, “A bug bite?” like she doesn’t believe me. I say yes and she says, accusingly, “You should take him to the doctor!” “For a bug bite?” “Yes!” And that is when I started saying what I wanted to, despite the nagging feeling that I should let it go. “That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard.”
Finally Sam calmed down and we began to walk toward home. As we crossed the entrance to the post office parking lot a man pulled in and almost hit Sam. This would be frightening enough if he’d simply not seen Sam, BUT HE DID. He just didn’t have time to wait and zoomed in the second he had clearance. I yelled, “You can’t wait for a kid?” He gestured at me. I have no idea what the gesture meant, but I doubt it was anything kind.
We continued to the corner. Now, normally the rule is “You hold my hand or I hold you.” In other words, Sam has to hold an adult’s hand or be carried across the street. He does not like this rule. Today, since he was pushing his laundry basket, I just grabbed the hood of his sweatshirt as we started to cross. Well, that was Not OK. He screamed and sat down in the gutter. I did the only thing I could think of, as there were cars coming from three of the four directions: I grabbed Sam, put him IN the laundry basket, and carried it while pushing the stroller. This was twice as awkward as it sounds, plus he kept trying to get out.
We passed in front of a minivan, Sam screaming. The driver OF COURSE had to say something. I only caught “control him.” I turned around. “WHAT?” He didn’t do the smart thing, which is realize that maybe I am a little busy and drive on, but instead said, “He should be in the stroller.” I said absolutely the only thing I could possibly have said under the circumstances: “FUCK YOU.”
So it would seem that I am too controlling, abusive, neglectful, and not controlling enough. And that does not cover everyone else in the post office, who did not say anything but whose faces clearly conveyed abject horror.
Today would have been a really nice day for someone (by which I mean someone in person) to be kind to me about my parenting. Instead I had it reinforced by the masses that I suck.
Here’s a tip for everyone: if you see a mother (or father, for that matter) with a child who is throwing a tantrum in public, don’t do anything or say anything unless she is actively harming the child (and then, you should call the police–interfering could escalate it). SHE IS WORSE OFF THAN YOU. She is embarrassed. She is having enough trouble. The screaming is louder where she is. SHE KNOWS HER CHILD BETTER THAN YOU DO. Just keep your fucking mouth shut.
The kicker to the story is that our walk ended when Sammy decided he was tired of pushing his basket and asked me to carry it in the stroller. Really and truly.