Parenting Other People’s Kids

I‘m sure you’ve heard of this before, people approaching strangers to offer advice or just plain tell them what they are doing is wrong.

I have seen parents do things that aren’t considered good- placing babies in car seats on top of carts, letting babies sleep in car seats, letting babies have solids too early… Not holding hands in the parking lot, letting kids roam Wal-Mart alone….

But I generally never say anything. Why? Some of the things are very dangerous. If you let a baby sleep in a car seat it reduces their oxygen intake by 80% or so. In the hospital, if a baby’s breathing goes below 90% they go into action to help the baby breathe. Babies have suffocated because they were left in the car seat sleeping after a drive and then put in the house sleeping, still in the car seat.

So why don’t I say anything? Partly, I feel uncomfortable. What do I know about their baby? How will they react? Is it my place, being a young mom myself?

Some say, it’s my motherly duty.

Yesterday, we went in errands. On these errands, we had to wait our turn for a long time. Long enough to need a numbered ticket. So we looked for an area with 3 seats together. We found one by a restroom. Not in front, but certainly a possible path to and from the restroom in question.

We put CDubs in the middle chair, placed the diaper bag on the ground under the chair, and after being assured that he was allowed his sippy cup (no food or drink allowed), Ry retrieved it from the car. I don’t feel we took up too much space. Maybe we did.

CDubs decided he wanted to play on the floor directly in front of his chair. The space he would have taken up didn’t surpass the length of my bent legs sitting in a chair. Granted I’m tall but still, not too much.

Now we don’t just yell at CDubs when he decides to do his own thing- even if we think it’s wrong. We try talking to him, reasoning with him. Sometimes, we compromise. Sometimes we let him discover the consequences (if it’s safe). Sometimes we outright pick it up or stop him and then explain why we did what we did.

As I am trying to explain to CDubs why he shouldn’t play on the floor in a public place, Ry decides it’s not worth the headache. CDubs isn’t blocking the only path to the restroom, he isn’t blocking doors, he’s not taking up a lot of space; just let him play for now.

I sigh, and begin to gather my papers and things together for this meeting, checking for the third time I’ve got everything.

To my surprise, another adult, 60-ish pokes their face directly in mine. I can feel their breath on my cheek.

Loudly, they tell me the type of sippy cup we brought in isn’t allowed.

“You misunderstood me ma’am, I said a sippy cup was fine. That’s a water bottle.”

“Yes sir/ma’am,” I say, “but this is sold as a toddler water bottle/sippy cup. See the little drawings and dragons on the cup? I promise it’s not for me and it doesn’t spill.”

The adult “ahhs…” And moves off.

So I continue to check my documents and papers.

Not even five minutes later, after I again comment maybe CDubs should be in the chair, the same adult gets in my face again.

Louder, they tell me it’s not their place but, “If I was a parent I wouldn’t let my baby play near a bathroom, all those germs on the ground he could really get sick. As a parent you should be considerate of others, what if there was a handicapped person who needed to use the restroom? They couldn’t fit through there.”

Laughter permeates my skull as people around us obviously agree and delight it my dressing down.


I turn to Ry and suggest they go eat lunch without me, or take a drive. He agrees and they both leave.

Remembering I am a volatile young woman, I take to Facebook to complain in that mysterious way 20-somethings do:

Yeah I was embarrassed. I actually also didn’t think my son should be on the floor too. Mind you as you sit in a plastic chair there is only a thin woven fabric on a person’s body (i.e. There are gaps in the fabric etc) separating a persons private area/butt from where my son would have sat/put his hands on. I fail to see how that’s better. Maybe y’all don’t mop the floors here though. Also guess what:

Feeling better once I huffed online and in my own head, I tell myself I’m being a bit silly. Perhaps I better catch up on my reading; still haven’t made it to the naked jailbreak. So I power up my little app and get to reading, only to stumble upon this passage in Alma:

“…thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering…”

Aw man. 😡 there it is. Patient and full of love…. I was not. I’ll do better, I vow after reading that section twice more.

I am called, I conduct my business, and leave the respective cubicle only to be beckoned to via crooked finger to the same adult.

I think, “Oh no, what now…” And smile my best smile and walk over.

“I didn’t mean to embarrass you, it’s just this is a public place and…” Blah blah blah…

Okay. So not really an apology but an attempt at one. Sort of.

Yeah, I didn’t appreciate the way you talked down to me like I was an idiot to illicit laughter from others.

And yeah, a lot of stuff went down I didn’t appreciate in my own mind. I could have done better myself. I definitely did not spare any kind thoughts your way.

I ended up reassuring this individual it was okay. Then I asked to use their bathroom. (I mean, I had heard so much about it already…Not really impressed but there you go.)

I walked outside in the 95° humidity and stood on the sidewalk waiting for Ry to drive back. Maybe it’s silly, even though I was trying to take the higher path, I’d rather stand outside then spend another minute in there.

Maybe this person was right though. They certainly are assigned to work there enough. Maybe horrifying things happen on that floor.

Or maybe, it was another instance of unwanted advice. What do you think? Is there a time to offer your two cents? Was I unjustly angry at this stranger? Let me know in the comments!

For more Sundries, follow me on Instagram @ afternoonofsundries on Twitter @ SundriesofLife or on Pinterest @ SundriesofLife 



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