Monday, February 25, 2013

In Which I Was Parent Shamed

The stick horse race. Linc is in the back, just to Saw's right, being helped off the ground.

Saturday night was one of those small disasters. The plan: hit the Katy Rodeo, a small version of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Rob was gone, and I normally wouldn't take my busy boys alone to something like that. But my parents were going along with Rob's parents, my sister-in-law and three of her boys. It was going to be a big, happy party.

Until the boys and I got in, but everyone else arrived after it sold out.

Which left a lot of disappointed people on the other side of the gate. And me on the second to highest row of bleachers with two wiggly-wild boys and a giant pregnant belly. Carrying two stick horses and two blankets and a large purse. And did I mention the giant pregnant belly? I can do this, I thought. I can.

We hit up the livestock part and got nibbled on and licked by sheep and goats, which involved lots of giggling. And no one got bitten by a pig--always a plus in my book, since I have a scar from a pig bite on my wrist. That's right--a scar from a pig bite. But I digress.

My goals were set pretty low once I realized I'd be alone: don't lose the kids, get everyone out alive. Things like have a good time, keep your cool, and make memories were all a distant third. Have you ever tried to keep up with two mobile and agile boys in a crowd, half your height, while you are slowed by pregnancy and doubly wide? It is a little terrifying. I think I gave the boys instructions like five times on what to do when--not if--we got separated.

Thankfully we never did, and once we were settled into the bleachers near a few other families with kids, I thought it would be a walk in the park. Sawyer loved watching the horses as the Katy cowgirls started the parade, and Lincoln began trying to charm the people around us, roaring with a big smile on his face. It was pretty adorable.

Except not so much to the woman in front of us, who decided I needed to be parent-shamed. 

If you don't know or haven't experience parent-shaming, it's when a parent uses either passive aggressive behavior or straight-up direct confrontation to make you feel that you are an inferior parent, or need to do something about your children's behavior because it doesn't conform to those standards.

Lincoln really wanted the attention of the girls seated in front of us, and after a few roars, which were fairly quiet, and definitely cute, not threatening, the mother gave him the side-eye, and then started encouraging her children to sing a song. They wouldn't, so she sang did (in a really not lovely voice, just for the record). It went something like this:

When you feel like you need to roar
Count to 1-2-3-4
And calm down, calm down
Be quiet, be quiet

What she was really conveying through her song was this:

Your child's roaring is impolite
Unlike my quiet angel children
Which says something about your parenting
Shut him up, do your job, be a better mom

I don't like being shamed as an adult. You know what I mean--people correcting you in a way that's patronizing, as though you are a child. With parenting, it's even worse, because it implies something about you as a parent and also your children.

Personally, I find polite roaring quite endearing. More than just acceptable. I don't think my kids need to count to four. Lincoln had no need to calm down. He was simply trying to charm this woman's daughters.

Good thing they weren't interested. Because I'd prefer to not have to deal with in-laws who would rather sing some kind of teaching song at me rather than talk to me. Especially for a little harmless roaring.

Have you ever done any parent-shaming? Or been a victim of parent-on-parent crime?

 Being parent-shamed is hard work. So is winning a ribbon for stick-horse racing.


  1. Geez. I wish some mothers would get off their high horses. (See the little bit of pun there since you were at the rodeo? Hardy.Har.Har.)

    Sorry you were parent shamed. Honestly, I would have made up some kind of reason (i.e. lied) to leave once I found out I was going to be alone with 2 kids and a giant pregnant belly. ;)

    Kudos to you, Momma!

    1. Oh, I left pretty soon after. I gave it a good go, but the boys were a little too wild for it. After the stick horse races, we were out of there!

  2. I would have sung back, "The woman in front of me is a self-righteous bitch / I want to kick her so badly I itch / But I won't ... probably..." :P xoxo "I don't like Mondays-hopping" Jane @nothingbtbook

    1. I wonder how she would have responded? It's hard to know with people but sometimes would just be better if we all let each other parent unless there was some legitimate issue.

  3. I can't believe she did that. That is just...I don't know what to say. Wouldn't it have been easier to just say something? But to make up a song and sing it? Eek. What a kook. And yes, bitchy. I don't like when people parent shame. It's also a peeve of mine when parents reprimand my children in front of me.

    1. It was a little weird. And if she had said something, it would have been better, and I could have asked why she was even bothered in the first place, as we were at a rodeo with tons of noise, and my son's roaring was barely even audible over the announcers and everything else. But maybe she and I have different expectations of behavior? But yeah--singing about it in a passive aggressive way was...odd.

  4. O!m!g!
    Do you live in the same town as me?????
    I don't think I would have been able to keep quiet around someone so insane!!!

    1. Ha, maybe! There are interesting people all over. It wasn't hard to stay quiet because, really--what do you say to that? It wasn't like she even directly addressed us, though was clearly trying to teach me something.

  5. Are you not engaging in some shaming of your own here?

    1. I suppose I am, in a way. Which is a fine question to ask--though, better when NOT anonymous so it can be a discussion, perhaps.


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