Tag Archives: Judgment

Question into the Abyss: Can We Call A Parent Out Without Judgment?

This morning, one of my mom friends sent me a little internet story called, A Clown Shares What Face Painting Taught Her About Male Violence in an Alarming Twitter Thread. It’s super short, so click on it if you want the full story. The gist is that when the clown was face painting at a party, a mother stepped in to stop her four-year-old son from getting the adornment he requested on his cheek (a blue butterfly) and insisted the face painter instead decorate him with something “for boys” (he ended up with a skull and crossbones).

Yep.

I felt anger bubbling up as I read this story, and tears welling as I thought of this little boy, walking around with a symbol of violence and death on his cheek, confronted with the idea that this is what he should present to the world, rather than the beauty and transformation he hoped to present.

Shannon and I created this blog as a place of non-judgment, as a village where its members and visitors treat fellow mothers and parents with grace, giving the benefit of the doubt that we are all just doing our best, that we all want the same good things for our kids – love, acceptance, and for them to grow up being a decent human being.

But guys, I’m really struggling to maintain this sense toward this mother.

I want to step in and paint a hundred blue butterflies on that boy’s cheek, if that’s what he wants.

I can easily come up with the relativistic, supportive things I could say in reaction to this story: I’m hearing this second-hand from the face painter… who knows what else that mother was going through that day… maybe she wasn’t at her best self… maybe she regrets it and won’t ever do it again… we all make mistakes… maybe she really thinks she is protecting her son from being made fun of…

But honestly, I’m mad at this mother (or, at least, at the version of her presented to me). I wholeheartedly disagree with her decision to step in and control her son’s self-expression to keep him in line with stereotypical masculinity. If this incident is truly indicative of her behaviour with her son, then frankly I think she’s fucking up the possibilities for who he could be, and contributing to a terrible system that tries to limit every single person in a binary prison of bullshit.

This is hard for me to admit on this blog. I’m supposed to be leading the safe space for non-judgment. How do I reconcile these two things?

I want to trust that she’s doing her best, and at the same time, I want to shake her by the shoulders and say, “How could you?!”

I want to respect her way of doing things as a fellow parent, and at the same time, I want to step in and paint a hundred blue butterflies on that boy’s cheek, if that’s what he wants.

I want to give her the benefit of the doubt and reassure her that we all make mistakes, but I also feel so strongly this is not an innocent mistake, and that it’s one she can’t afford to make too many times without causing lasting damage.

Help! I need some insight from my village… 

Can I reconcile non-judgment and anger? Or are there, eventually, just lines in the sand that we have to choose or risk having no principles at all?

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Wait, I Got Judged for THAT!?

We recently took our first plane ride with a toddler. Super fun, right? Yep, until take-off was over. Mistake #1 from my corner was booking a red-eye with two under two… but that’s what happens when sleep-deprived people make crucial decisions. They think they’re booking an 8:30 AM flight. I tried to change it once I realized, but the fees to do so would have been astronomical. (Sidenote: shouldn’t there be some sort of grace policy in most organizations for stupid decisions their customers make during the fourth trimester???)

So yes, I made a big mistake, but apparently, that wasn’t my biggest. We’re on the plane, and our almost two-year-old is getting crazy overtired, but he can’t sleep. So he’s squawking, fussing, crying, shouting no to everything, squirming, kicking – just generally being everybody’s nightmare when they get on a red-eye. Everyone on the plane hates us. There’s a family in the row behind: mom, dad, baby, and adorable four-year old. Our kids were playing in the departure lounge before boarding, and we were all chit-chatting. They were pros at taking plane rides, the four-year-old letting me know with great pride that she had been on nine planes in her life. And when the seat belt sign went off, this family had the routine down. Cozy blanket tucked in, tray table set up with water and snacks, tablet playing cartoons propped in front of her, headphones on – and that little traveller did not move or make a peep for the whole four hours of the plane ride….

…except once to ask her mommy, gesturing to our son, “Why is he so upset?”

To which her mother replied without missing a beat, “Well, I guess some people didn’t think to bring a screen for their kids.”

What?! I thought not having a tablet filled with cartoons for my toddler was one of the mom-things I was doing okay on.  Continue reading

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