Sometimes I think the worst part about being a parent is dealing with other parents.
Every child is different and responds to experiences and environments differently, just like people do.
I think many of us can we say have been approached by strangers with comments about our kids. Sometimes we get the good ones about how cute they are. Then, we get the ones from people think that we are supposed to lock ourselves in our homes with our strong-willed kids until they learn how to behave in public.
But the funny thing is that in order to learn how to behave in public, or how to behave during an activity, is to practice partaking in that activity and being out in the world, right? Why aren’t we born just knowing how to behave ourselves, dammit!
We, the parents, get it, kids hate grocery shopping. Kids hate banks. They hate restaurants. And commercials. And anything else that involves them to sit still, or to be quiet. That’s kids, especially young kids.
I recently signed my two-year-old up for a gymnastics class. Her pediatrician said it would be good for her, to get all of her energy out. The class was labeled “2-3 year olds.” My daughter was 2 years, 4 months old at the time. I noticed right away that other parents seem to act like the month’s matter, like, “How old is your kid?”
I usually reply, “2.”
Then, they say things like, “Mine is 30 months, he will be 3 in January.”
I always try to process in my mind how that matters. Your kid is fucking 2. Mine will be 3 next May, big shit. They are both fucking 2.
My daughter’s first day at gymnastics, she was excited. She was wild. She was bouncing off the walls. Again, she is 2 years old.
Ten minutes into the class, the teacher gave me that squinty eyed glare from behind the glass. The glare said, “Come deal with your pain in the ass kid,” without having said an actual word.
While the teacher and the three other two-year-olds in the class were stretching and standing still on their circular mat’s, my kid was running in circles around them. She pointed to everything in the room and asked, “What’s this?” Like I said, she is 2 and it was her first day. She was the only new kid this round.
I went into the room and redirected her back to the class activities. But my two-year-old refused to wait her turn and continued to cheer to herself and dance in circles.
The teacher then ignored my kid. She picked her up and just removed her from the mat while the others did tumble salts. At this point, being excited and hyper turned into being upset and hysterical.
Then came the meltdown…
I ran inside to soothe her. After I calmed her down in the hallway and sent her back in the room to participate, I was approached by another parent. This parent said something along the lines of,
“Your daughter is ruining the class for our kids.”
Pre-mama Me would have lost my shit on this woman. I would have told her to mind her damn business and to go worry about her 30-month old little brat who is dressed more like a prostitute than a 2-year-old gymnast.
But I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t. My daughter was having another meltdown because she wanted to go through the tunnel but the teacher just put the tunnel away because we were out in the hallway during tunnel time.
I got another glare from the teacher and the parents; It’s always the parents who glare the worst. At this point, after yelling at my daughter and packing up her stuff, I forcefully carried her out of the room and we left. She was hysterical the entire ride home and cried, “No go.”
In that moment, I realized that I reacted to the situation. I made life easy for the people around me and punished my two-year-old for being a kid. I treated her like she did not have a right to be there because she is not perfect.
I doubt those other kids were perfect and composed on their first day. This was a new experience for my daughter and I pulled her away from it because I felt embarrassed by her behavior. It felt wrong. The entire thing felt wrong.
Why is it okay to expect our kids to be perfect? Why do we want to exclude the kids who are not? Why doesn’t anybody want to embrace the concept of how much work we have to put in to help them grow and mature. All kids should be able to participate in activities without this aggravation.
I often find myself wondering, how many parents am I going to have to get into fights with? How many are going to run their mouths today, at this place? At that place?
I know my kid is not perfect. Neither is yours. I acknowledge the fact that some days, my kids can both be obnoxious little shits that I don’t want to deal with either. I can understand why others wouldn’t want to. I own that. But they are kids and they are learning and growing into better people every day. Maybe it is the adults that are the problem.
Toddlers are emotional, bossy and sometimes strong-willed little people. It is in their nature, it is who they are, it is common and it is normal. They will give us kisses and hugs one second and be flailing their little bodies on the floor because they we don’t carry pizza in our diaper bag the next.
Yet, we always seem to have the parents who have those rare “well-behaved” children who try to make us feel like us and our non-perfect children do not belong someplace.
I decided in the future that my daughter is not going to be excluded from things because other people have a problem with her. She has just as much of a right as any other kid to participate in activities.
While they never officially said that we weren’t welcomed back at gymnastics, I got the message. We signed up for dance instead and my daughter loves it. Each week she gets better. And I am not pulling her out again because of what any other parent or teacher has to say about my kid.