Sunday, January 9, 2011

Beware of unsolicted advice and the people that dispense've been warned!

Don't you love it when random people feel the need to push their agenda's, life lessons, insights into what they think you may be experiencing in the world at that moment in lane #5 of Wal-Mart on a Tuesday??

Back in the days of early parenthood which was also cleverly masked as the end of my teenage years I would affectionately refer to these idiots as "grocery store parenting experts".  Of course there was a very sarcastic and loose inference to the actual "expertise" part of that title.  These were the people that would approach me at the dairy case where I was buying my monthly ration of government milk and would dispense their words of "wisdom" to the poor ridiculous teenage unwed mother before them that was SURELY going to totally F-up the fetus still swimming blindly and blissfully in uttero. 

I remember once reaching over my head to grab a single small can of cat food in my final weeks of pregnancy and got death stares from a "grocery store parenting expert" who came over and said that I was "playing with death" by reaching over my head and by being around cats at this stage of my pregnancy.    I immediately reacted by dropping the cat food on the floor and walked away leaving it there.  I felt this was the best response because if I had merely chosen not to buy the food but took the time to once again reach over my head to place it back on the shelf I may do double reaching damage to my unborn child although clearly saving it from some kind of vicious cat disease.

Sometimes it was mild and really helpful advice like remember to always lay your baby on it's stomach when it goes to sleep so that it won't choke on its spit while it's sleeping.  Helpful.  Thank you.  Moving on.

Five years later when I had my second child and was married, apparently the sleeping rule had changed.  I think the American Pediatric Foundation had worried that their campaign of just 1/2 a decade earlier had been a mistake and sent out hoards of people into the world to pound it into the heads of expectant parents that it was no longer suggested to put your babies on their bellies at sleep time.  They would smother themselves.  So you had to make sure you always put your baby on it's back when you lay it down to sleep at night.  Just remember B-T-S, Back To Sleep.  I first felt like I had dodged a bullet with the first child's sleep position and again filed this under "helpful".  Thank you.  Moving on.

Another time years later, while buying Shout stain remover to deal with a container of child's play make-up making it's way from room, to hamper, to washer, to dryer and all over my towels, sheets and the next load of laundry that contained my work clothes without being detected I was met by the woeful stares of a woman.  She peered over at me above her reading glasses as I stood silently cursing under my breath, wearing the aqua blue stained shorts, socks and shirt that had been in the first load with the make-ups original "tour of duty" to buy the cleaner at close to midnight in the dead of winter in Northeast Ohio.  She looked at me and said "honey, that will teach you to ALWAYS turn your clothes inside out and do the same with the pockets.  It takes a little extra time but saves a whole hell of a lot of grief and a possible stint of pneumonia."  She was right.  About the time, the grief and sadly the pneumonia.  Helpful.  Thank you.  Moving on.

Other times it was redneck parenting advice of never toss your baby in the air around any of the following and in no particular order of harm:

#1. A moving ceiling fan.**

#2. A non moving ceiling fan.**

#3. A juggler (clown or otherwise).

#4. Any type of Japanese chef (not sure if this a racial inference or just a "whoa did you see them make a oil volcano with that onion? Man that would have been really horrifying if a baby was being tossed up in the air near that".

#5. A drunk relative or stranger that yells, "no seriously throw him/her to me, I will TOTALLY catch them".

**Note to readers #1 & #2 were told to me by a pediatrician so think of these things when you are screening a doctor to care for your children.  I'm just saying.

It's probably a shock to all around me that neither of my children like ceiling fans, jugglers (clown or otherwise), Japanese food or chefs and absolutely cannot stand anyone from my side of the family that isn't their grandparents or their aunt because sadly all the rest are...what??  Yeah, you guessed it ALCOHOLICS!!!

The sad part of "grocery store parenting" isn't it doesn't stop when you pop out that little squishy bundle of reasons why your belly looks like a road map from "Mad Max and the Thunderdome" and your ass looks as though you've hibernated after consuming a lion's share of  nothing but Milano cookies and Snickers!

Nope it does not stop. 

And you can't out run it either.  They are like mosquito's...even when you can't see them, you can still hear them buzzing about and they always bite you in the ass!

It actually, truth be told, gets WAY worse once your kids are born because now it's not like a blitz where they sneak up on you drop the unsolicited advice and then move away to harm some other unsuspecting parent-to-be.  Nope they follow your ass.  And your kids thinks its all fun and games.

Damn traitors of your womb! 

It may start in dairy, pop back up in produce, slide in somewhere near the deli counter and then they bring in on home in that longest of "parent advice dispensing" holding pin known as the checkout line.  The whole time your kid is kicking and laughing and your cringing and crying (both on the inside and outside).  Yep, the checkout line where your perfect little cherub throws out every hissy fit known to man because you had the audacity to tell that little pumpkin that "no they may not" have that candy bar, pack of gum, balloon animal kit, Pokemon card, Teen Vogue (cause it don't stop with the teenagers), 100th tube of chapstick in less than a month "dear god stop leaving them  in your fricking pocket where they end up going through the god forsaken wash every time and you keep looking surprised when I ream your butt for it", animal cracker/fruit roll-up tattoo crap that they have to have, will never ask for another thing if you just please, please, PA-LEEEEAAAASE 'just buy it just this once it's only $3.95 and I'll never, never, N-E-V-E-R ask for another thing EVER (meaning until the next time you come back to the store in 3 days cause we've eaten you out of house and home), PLEASE I love you, your the best parent ever" moment that all parents dread and feel most vulnerable to prying, disapproving and judgmental staring.

The check out line is like a cage match.  Two are going in and only one is coming out and you better hope it's you!  Its no holds barred.  Doesn't matter how many manners you've taught junior.  Or how many talks you've had with your little honey bunch.  It's like a bull at a rodeo once your gated in the only way to make it out is to hold on to your resolve. 

Stand firm.

Show no fear.

Take no prisoners.

And dear God, don't smack the kid, tell them you are leaving "right this minute if they don't stop that whining" and then buy the damn pack of gum so that "if you behave yourself on the ride home mommy/daddy will give you a piece".  You look like an ass.  You make other parents look like an ass and secretly we are all wishing that the fleas of 1,000 camels comes and invades your bed because now our kids are using your little pacification trick on us and wondering why that kids mommy is so nice and we are the second coming of Hitler!

It's the truth.  No sugar coating.  Trust me you'll thank me later.  Not like 20 minutes later or even a year later, but seriously if you see me walking out and about once your now 2 yr old turns 20 and is moving on with their new grown up life...yeah, you'll thank me.

Yep, at that moment when you cave because your tired or any other litany of excuses that I have used more times than I ever care to share, is the moment that "grocery store parenting experts" live for. It's like their Super Bowl or some crap like that.

One time, shortly after our move to Slidell, I was in the dreaded Wal-mart check out line.  The cage match of all cage matches was about to ensue and there was a perfect storm of other circumstances that I was unaware of in my periphery that would elevate the distaste of the "grocery store parenting" to a whole new level.  I had actually told my youngest daughter, when she was 3 1/2 years old, that she could not have a tube of chapstick, for the millionth time, because of her attitude.  I refused to reward her in any shape or form after a stop in the bakery section about a 1/2 hour earlier to pick up some donuts for Sunday breakfast turned into a hissy fit over the woman behind the bakery counter offering my child a free cookie.  You'd think that cookie would equal happiness, right??  Um, yeah....not so much for Little Miss Crank Ass 2003.  Up until that moment she had been an angel, straight from the gates of heaven, and when I went to accept the cookie and handed it to my child her joy turned to anger in .2 seconds.  Before I could even react my child took the cookie and hurled it back at the woman. read that right.  MY CHILD THREW THE COOKIE!!!

My child threw the cookie, with perfect aim mind you, back over the counter and hit the woman.  Oh wait...there's more.  When she threw the cookie she was screaming "it sugar, not cocklate (3yr old speak for chocolate)".  And where precisely did the woman get hit, might you ask?  Well, of course to ice my cake of mortification....she hit the woman in the face.

Yes, my precious bundle of innocence and joy threw a line drive at a woman who had 1/2 a second earlier given her a cookie where moments before she had NONE.  Can you say ungrateful much??  Oh yeah.  Dying. Dying.  I was dying.

I kept apologizing over and over and over again.  I knew that I needed to stop apologizing but I couldn't.  It was like diarrhea of the mouth.  I think if I would have known how to apologize in other languages I would have.  It was horrific.  I made sure she was okay, of course.  But bottom line, it was done and couldn't be undone and I didn't know what else to do but apologize profusely over and over as I walked away reassuring the woman and myself that I was gonna beat some ass once I was out of view of the public.

I wanted to just pick her up out of the buggy, profess my unending amount of displeasure at my child's rude behavior and high tail it out of there while wacking my kids keester the WHOLE ENTIRE WAY!  And maybe I should have but if I had there would be no rest of the story and truly, even back then, I thought someday, someone, most likely just me is gonna laugh at this.  And of course there was still the business of the non purchased groceries just playing a side note to all the cookie tossing drama.  There were donuts, milk that was needed for cereal and chips for school lunches for my oldest child. 

By the time I made it to the check out line I had witnessed my daughter go from perfection, to a wild crazed cookie tossing beast to a meek doe eyed sweetie begging for chapstick.  If we had skipped the cookie incident I may have given at least a 50% chance of the purchase of a "moment of weakness item".  These items are the tabloid magazines that you know you don't need but still get just to have mindless entertainment, bottled drinks that you don't need because you know you're going straight home and that really is a waste of $3 for water and space in a landfill for the damn container or any number of candy bars or sweets that will go directly to your ass or add to your dental bill. 

For my family chapstick is just one of those things that we seem to never actually need but always end up buying cause we see it while we are waiting to check out.  So Hannah turned on her charm and I turned on my will power and held fast to my "no good behavior, no treats...whether they be chapstick or edible" although at that age of the game she ate chapstick, so in her eyes it was a two-for-one deal.

As God is my witness, hand on a stack of bibles, the woman in front of me watched the whole "please mommy" and "no Hannah you were not behaved" exchanged and then bought my child that damn tube of chapstick!  She then turned around and gave it to me after she received her change from checking out. 

When I politely handed it back and said "no, thank you, I don't allow strangers to buy my children things and certainly not after she has misbehaved, but thank you anyway".  It took everything in me not to scream at her "seriously lady?  Like seriously, seriously??  Are you fricking kidding me here???".  Then the woman looks at me and says something to the effect of "oh I saw you walking all through the store and she was so well behaved.  She deserves the chapstick."

I was like...OH NO YOU DIDN'T (with the head moving side to side and one finger up and wagging).  So I said, "no really, she had an incident where she threw something in the store and that behavior is not rewarded in our household".  I'm praying that this woman was not a lawyer because her answer to me was something to the effect of "well good thing your not at home" and attempted to hand Hannah the chapstick.

Seriously, I was beginning to wonder if this woman ever had kids, was around kids, or knew how if you reward the bad behavior it will just become a constant behavior.  So again, I politely refused the chapstick, which I now had to pry out of my child's death grip and felt my patience running thin with both her and now my semi whining, semi crying child.  I continued to check out the groceries in my cart as this woman stood near by my buggy that contained a now wailing Hannah. 

I finished up with the cashier who handed my receipt with a semi mortified expression on her face.  When I followed her gaze I caught the chapstick buying, non kid having, God I hope your not a lawyer cause your arguing skills SUCK woman handing my daughter the friggin chapstick.  AGAIN!

I was like hold up there home skillet!  I pried loose what Hannah was staring at and probably mentally marking as victory in her little mind and forcefully gave it back to the woman who was now finally starting to walk away from my buggy, half talking half yelling "thanks but no thanks" through tightly clenched teeth.  Finally, thinking that it was over, I started towards the exit and what do I spy out of the corner of my eye but a red tube of cherry chapstick flying just over my shoulder and landing in between the bags of groceries in my cart.  By the time I snatched it up from its resting spot and turned to chuck it back at its sender she had ran out the door. 

I probably would have high tailed and attempted to follow her but I was sadly feeling defeated and tired.  I didn't relinquish the chapstick to a now sullen and pouting Hannah.  Instead I shoved it in my pants pocket.  Of course I inevitably forgot about it until I did laundry and found it uncapped and swirling a red streak around my dryer and clumped on several pieces of mine and my husbands clothing.  I guess I didn't follow the advice of those "grocery store parenting experts" about the ALWAYS CHECK POCKETS AND TURN CLOTHING INSIDE OUT PRIOR TO WASHING IN ORDER TO KEEP YOURSELF SANE AND YOUR CLOTHING FROM BEING RUINED.  I swear, unsolicited or not, I just never listen.

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