Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Parenting Police

Once upon a time it was a gorgeous Wednesday and it was time to head out the door to go to our ward's playgroup. I put Margaret in the sling and grabbed my coat. I stopped and wondered if I really needed it- it's been beautiful in Provo this week. I decided that moving my wallet and keys into different pockets was more hassle than it was worth, so I just threw on my heavy winter coat figuring that if it was too hot, I'd deal with it.

I was walking along in front of the 7-11, talking on the phone with a friend when suddenly, a minivan with 2 platinum blond 40-something women pulled up in the driveway in front of me blocking my ability to walk on the sidewalk. One of the ladies jumped out and tried to hand me money commanding,

"Take this money. You NEED to buy your baby socks."

I was still trying to assess the situation.

"No thanks, she's fine."

The lady was persistent, "You're wearing a big coat and she doesn't have socks!" implying that somehow I'm more concerned about myself than my baby. In my mind I thought, "Yeah, and I'm sweating in this coat!"

"No. She's fine."

The lady in the van yelled out at me, "NO. SHE IS NOT FINE!"

I'm a little taken aback and after a few more, "No. We're fine" comments, they did leave.

I kept on walking, a little shaken up. Why did they care? It was very nice out. Margaret is rarely cold, and if she was, she'd let me know- it's not like she's forgotten how to cry.

It was after they left that I realized I should have threatened to call the police on counts of harassment. Later on in the walk, I saw a little girl standing in an open doorway with just underwear on: perhaps it would have been prudent to go up to the house and give them money to buy her pants and a shirt?

I've replayed the scene in my head; I'm still left with questions: What were they thinking? Did the sling make me look too poor to buy a stroller? Were they on a weird "service" scavenger hunt and needed to give away random money by harassing and yelling at a young mother? Would it not have happened if I wasn't wearing my coat? Would they have offered more money if they thought I was too poor to buy a coat for myself along with the inability to buy socks? Should I have taken the money and gone to 7-11 to buy a slurpee? Hmm...

Any ideas for good responses to this? If you've got a clever/witty response I should have used, let me know in the comments. I'll knit up some baby socks for the person with the most hilarious response. :)


  1. LOL , Heather!
    I saw a baby without a hat the other day and it was cold. I almost said something to the mom....

  2. Oh, ok, not a hilarious response... I was just responding. In case someone thinks this is me being hilarious...

  3. You could have told her she needed it for her botox more than your baby needed it.

    Or just given your baby to her. Clearly the lady knew how to care for your baby better than you (o:

  4. Response #1: "Oh! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I'm such a MORON that I need perfect strangers to tell me how to care for my child!"

    Response #2: "I'm sorry. Socks are against my religion."


    Response #3: *blink blink blink* *raise eyebrow* *walk away*

  5. LOL Holly - those are funny! I like #2 especially.

    For me, it would depend on my mood. If I were in a snarky mood I'd say:

    "I'm sorry, I missed the part where this was any of your business?"

    If I were in a silly mood, I'd learn how to say "I don't speak English" in another language. So when someone said something to me like that, I'd look confused and say (in Dutch):

    "spreek ik het geen Engels"

    and wait for them to scramble to try to visually describe the thing they were trying to tell me in the first place. Of course, this method may backfire if they happen to speak whichever language you used...

    But if I was in a dramatic mood, I would start going on some long, drawn-out, completely made-up story as to why my poor baby didn't have socks, take the money, then go buy a candy bar:

    "Oh I'm so glad you stopped just now! My poor baby has no socks. You see, I was given this coat 3 years ago by my grandmother, the day before she passed away. I tried to sell it to get more money this winter for socks, but I couldn't bear to be parted with it in the end. And as you can see, I can't even afford a stroller. So I was on my way to go clean a woman's house to earn enough money to buy her socks. I was so worried about her little feet being too cold, but what could I do? I even called my mother, who lived in Northern Michigan, to ask her advice. She used to be a registered nurse, before she had her accident...."

    and so on, until they get bored or get the point.

  6. I think it would have been hilarious to start totally freaking out, thinking that you lost her socks somewhere on your walk, and how it happens all the time and you only have one more pair at home. Because, you know, socks are practically impossible to keep on baby feet, anyway!

  7. Ughh, morons. I had a platinum blond spiky haired mom say my baby looked like she was hanging on for dear life in her Onbu yesterday. My baby was kicking her feet and waving her arms and grinning at the woman as she said it. *eyeroll* They must be on some sort of crusade to save babies from moms like us. They probably have a stash of bottles and formula in the back of the car to hand out to women who are unfortunate enough to be breastfeeding.

  8. I have a question -- do you wear the sling over or under your coat? Because if under, I might say something about shared body heat, etc.

    It would be fascinating to hear the conversation the women had before and after, when they were trying to decide whether and how to intervene.

    Recently a friend of mine had to go to court because she'd left her kids in the car in a parking lot. It was such an interesting incident.

    And in the case of the women with sock money, I have to point out that they saw someone they thought was in need and did something about it. Totally ineptly, but perhaps their motives weren't completely malicious???

  9. I wear the sling under my coat so that it fits the best- and it does keep Margaret very warm. I have one coat that I can zip up with her in it- though I wasn't wearing that one.

  10. Wow! I guess a nice answer would have been "Thanks!" and then donate the money to the Church or some other organization.

    But my preferred answer would have been, "Thanks, we're fresh out of whiskey!"

  11. While probably well intentioned, I get SO annoyed with people who give you "advice" on how to parent. I probably would have been speechless, I'm not one for clever quips in situations like that.

  12. Oh my gosh!! I am TERRIFIED of something like that happening when I wear Toby in the mei tai. Once, in August, I was walking and he had fallen asleep on my back and some lady in her SUV pulled in front of us and wanted us to get in her car. "Are you okay?! Your baby looks like he's passed out from the heat!" Um, no.

    Wow. I actually had Toby in the mei tai yesterday and one of his socks fell off. I was so worried someone was going to comment on it (somebody snarked at me the other day because he was in his stroller without a hat... his head is too big for a hat!)

  13. If her intentions were good, then she should have dropped it when you said "Thanks, we're fine."

    You handled it better than I would have. My answer would have involved cursing and hand gestures.

  14. Whenever I take Caleb out, I worry about if he's too hot, or too cold (it may be a bit brisk outside, but I know as soon as we get in the car, it will be warm, and then I don't want him too hot...) My friend said she's often more worried about what OTHER people will think rather than if he really is too hot or cold--because of crazy people like this who try to parent for you. I often feel like I look "poor" when I walk to the grocery store with Caleb in the front carrier. I just like walking better than driving!

  15. Two weeks ago at the grocery store, I was wearing R in my sling and this older lady started lecturing me about the one inch gap between R's socks and the bottoms of her pants and how she would catch a cold! I wasn't even annoyed though because I couldn't stop thinking "Lady, you have NO teeth!" I still can't get the image of her toothless grin out of my mind. Ahhh...Gillette.

    Mine isn't a come back, but I vote for the botox and Joy's whiskey comments.

  16. I'd probably say in my best hilbilly accent, "Well, shoot! We ain't never had no money for socks before! Thank'e kindly, ma'am!"

    Then I'd use the money to buy myself a treat for having to deal with idiotic, meddling women.

  17. I don't have a more clever remark, but I really like Joy's whiskey one, although I'd never say it.

    I have been out walking with Wren in *gasp* a light rain. Usually multiple people will stop to offer us a ride. Because it's better to have a baby in a car with no carseat than possibly getting wet. They take no for an answer though.

  18. WOW---that'd seriously freak me out if someone came at me like that!

    I don't know what I would say though. I know I would be THINKING a lot of things.... :)

    Good to know of one more thing I have to look forward to this summer when I'm out with our little boy.


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