Today I was shamed in public for my parenting skills, or rather lack thereof.
Esmé and I went to meet up a friend of mine and her daughter for dinner. We decided to eat at a place called Guasaca, which is similar to Chipotle, just a different style of food. Very kid-friendly and a back patio area where you can sit outside.
We got there just before my friend and her daughter did, so we got our food and waited while they worked their way through the line. Esmé was suuuuper excited to see her friend Charlotte, but was even more excited when she saw an older boy swinging on the line-dividing-bar-thing. This she had to try for herself.
She has had several opportunities to hang from uneven bars in her Little Gym classes, but today was the day that she decided she could do it on her own. I was so proud of her. She was swinging (barely) back and forth, but her feet were off the ground!
I think she got so proud of herself she let out a shriek of joy. A couple people laughed and smiled, and I said sorry to the people in front of her, and reminded her that we save our shrieks for when we’re outside. I asked if she wanted to go outside and she said no, and carried on playing.
She shrieked once more, not nearly as loud, and as I bent down to speak to her a loud voice behind me interrupted:
‘Ma’am? MA’AM??? Could you PLEASE CONTROL YOUR CHILD???! There are OTHER PEOPLE here TRYING TO EAT.’
The restaurant went quiet.
My face got hot (and I’m sure red), my arms went numb, my heart started racing, and my hands were shaking.
My wonderful friend stuck up for me saying ‘ Sir this is a family restaurant and if you’re trying to have a meeting or something, you picked the wrong place.’
But I was tongue-tied. I couldn’t think of a single thing to say because I couldn’t believe someone would actually say something like that out loud.
I took my daughter by the hand and went to sit outside, which was where we were going to go anyway, and managed to keep it together until I got home.
The whole way home, I kept beating myself up for not standing up for myself.
I should have smacked him.
I should have called him an old, crabby, insensitive sh*thead who doesn’t deserve the air my daughter sneezed into.
I should have given him the finger as I walked out the door.
But after I got home, put Esmé to bed, did a lot of crying, called some mama friends for support, drank some wine, and did some reflection I realized some things:
1. As good as it would have felt, I would have been no better than him if I had hit/called him names/ flipped him off. Also not the best example to set for my daughter, and the other children in the restaurant.
2. Shame on him. Who the hell are you to tell me how to parent my child?! She was happy. She wasn’t throwing a tantrum. The people closest to her when she was playing did not even notice she was there, yet you critize me from across the room?? Wtf.
3. Shame on me. How dare you let some complete idiot, stranger make you second guess yourself. I can’t believe you started wondering if you were at fault in this situation.
4. I believe that happy little girls should be able to express themselves so they don’t grow up to be suppressed, subservient, obedient little women who don’t know how to respond to asshole old men that critique their parenting skills.