I used to have a joke in my act that went something like this…
“When you’re a kid, you never appreciate it. You just want to grow up. But, when you’re a young adult, you long to be a kid again. You realize you had it good with no bills and someone to watch over you. You wish you could go back. But, you can’t. You can’t go back. You can, however, get moments of that kid. For me, I’d get into my bed. I’d be all warm and snug under my duvet blanket. I’d just revel in the comfort of that warm and snug feeling and I’d have a flash of it. I’d go…OH! This is what it must’ve felt like when I was a baby. I feel like a baby again. I’m a little warm and snug, baby…except for the fact that I’m drunk. And then I’d start chastising myself. Look at yourself. You’re a drunk baby! Can’t even walk or talk yet and already you’re full of booze…Nobody likes a drunk baby!! You, drunk-whore! You, drunk, baby-whore!”
A stupid joke, but it hits on something, now, doesn’t it?
The other day, Wifesy and I went to our favorite taco joint. It was the middle of the day, middle of the week, but Wifesy has an odd schedule and I try to match my freelance days to hers whenever I can. So, suffice it to say it’s common that we might be “off” together on a Tuesday. So, we’re there at the taco joint after yoga because we like to erase the healthy things we do with something naughty. As we walk up to our usual spot, Wifesy goes, “That woman is always here when we come.” Hmmm. I had never noticed her before and Wifesy starts talking to her right away. This is also strange, as I’m usually the one chatting with everyone in our immediate vicinity at a restaurant or a bar. Wifesy chats up the woman and I look down to see that she’s filling out some sort of adoption papers.
Our repartee with the woman goes something like this:
“Oh, hi. Good to see you here again,” says Wifesy. “We like to come for happy hour and we’ve seen you here once or twice before.”
“Oh, yes, I like to come during the day. As you both probably know, this place is packed at night. I come during the day to do some work and get out of the house,” she responds.
“Are you adopting?” I ask. Okay, there was some more small talk in there before I jumped in with the adoption question, but you know, for post-length-sake…
“Basically, my sister is a crack whore and I rescued her kids. I have 5 of my own and 2 of hers. I love them. They are like my babies now.”
Okay, she didn’t say crack whore, but really that was the gist of it. It might of been heroin, it might’ve been meth, and she didn’t add whore. She probably said, “My sister the addict,” but the thing is everyone’s thinking crack whore. So, let’s just go with it.
“Oh, wow, that’s amazing. How old are your babies, the adopted ones?” I ask.
“They are 5 and 7,” she says.
And that was it. Right there. I judged her. I thought, you’ve got two kids at home, 5 and 7? Then what the hell are you doing here, in the bar, in the middle of the day, regularly, having a glass of wine? I MEAN, WHO IN THE FECK IS WATCHING THE BABIES?
Now, I am not a judgmental person. So, it’s amazing to me that I had that reaction. Granted it was a silent reaction. I’m not going to say it out loud. However, I did fish a little more. I said something like, “Oh, do you have a babysitter for them now?”
And she said, “My older sons are watching them.”
And I judged again. I thought, so you leave your crack-whore sister’s kids with a couple of your older boys and no parental supervision to do what? Run amok? Cause havoc? Just what the feck are you doing lady? What kind of mother are you?
I found my snap reactions so strange. Here this woman was doing a good thing. She took in kids who needed caring for. Her sons are old enough to watch them from what she said. But, I’m judging her.
Meanwhile, there’s a part of me that goes, why in the hell can’t I take my own goddermned kid into a pub, when I have a kid, if I want to? They do it in Europe. Yet, here, you look like a wack-job. So, I want all of the freedom for myself, but none of it for anyone else? Talk about a double standard.
It’s as if your brain goes — I know and they don’t. Now, of course, I never said any of this out loud to the woman. But, it did make me think — MAN, PARENTS GET JUDGED SO MUCH. Every other adult is looking over their shoulder at another parent and going, I wouldn’t do that. I would do it better, differently, with more discipline, with less discipline, with more love, with less spoiling, with more meds, with no meds, etc. Etc.
It reminded me of a time, a few years ago, when Wifesy and I were in Manhattan. As we were walking through the neighborhood, we saw a guy, a hipster, about our age, screaming at two small girls.
I mean, the hipster-dad was REALLY tearing them a new one. There was something scary about it. Both Wifesy and I thought it was over the top. So, we walked over and I said, “Is everything okay?” Hipster guy was seeing red and looked at me with pure rage on his face. I said, “Are these your kids?” I said it just to gauge his reaction and the girls’ reaction. It was immediately clear that they were indeed his. The guy said something really sarcastic about us being, “Upstanding citizens,” but I’ve been a comedian for too long and I know what he really meant was, “Nosy dykes.” Regardless, I’m glad I stepped in there. I backed off as soon as it was clear that they were family and the guy had calmed down a bit. Hell, I even thought to myself, I didn’t see the moment before the yelling. Maybe the girls almost ran into traffic and he was screaming at them out of love and concern. I mean kids can be hella stupid sometimes.
Anyway, I don’t know how I would handle that aspect of parenting, if I have a kid – the constant judgement. I think I might sit my kid right on the barstool, pour myself a glass of pinot gris, and tell every human being that comes up to me to, “Feck off.”
What about you? Do you judge other parents? How do you deal with it when people unfairly judge you?
As always, I love hearing your answers.
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Photo creds: drunk-baby, hipster-stairs, feck-sleep