Friday, September 05, 2014

Free range

Seriously I can't make this shit up.

Let me set the stage. It's a gorgeous September night, right after we've eaten supper and the wee one wants to go for a bike ride. She rides one of those glide bikes and she's pretty amazing on it. Oldest, wee, and I get on our helmets and decide to go around the block. The three kids have been doing this all summer long as I sit on the porch with my mangled knee, but now I'm able to get on my bike and sort of wing my leg around in simulation of how people ride bikes. Looks cooky but I feel as though I'm doing something.

We get around 3/4 of the block (I just wrote 2/3 and realized a block obviously has 4 sides so 2/3 does NOT work. My math skills are only improving, people!) and at that point it is the tiniest downgrade so I can just coast around the corner to the driveway; knee is sore so I decide to do just that. Oldest child is directed to watch youngest as they finish the final 30 metres of our journey. Note: she has been doing this all summer long, she is the most responsible 10 year old I know, and 3.5 year old is very good listener. Other note: 30 m could be way off, I really have no ability to judge a metre or more than one metre. Maybe 30 feet? 45 seconds of bike riding?

I pull up on driveway and wait. A BMW SUV pulls up with this older lady craning her head out of the window at me. And this is so funny I wish I knew how to make a voice recording of me imitating her because it is just that good. You know when people kind of fake a British accent, the really posh one? Or you see a really old, jewelry encrusted woman on a TV show who very obviously thinks she's all that? Yah, that's the voice. Excuse me dahhhling? she says, dragging the word out with that British inflection. Are those your children?  I seriously thought she was going to tell me how cute they were, people do it all the time. Ready to accept the compliment I'm like, yes? They are so faaar away from you, daaarling. I told them I'd get their mummy.

What. The fuck.

I am the furthest thing from a fast thinker, but it pops into my head that this is a joke. I mean, it really does. So I just stare at her.

The children could get in an accident, she says, all poshy. The woman driving is craning her curly haired head to look at me, probably trying to decide how mad I am. I think it was obvious. I was beyond mad.

I'm like, thanks for the tip. [I know, brilliant. I told you, I'm terrible at thinking fast and the only thing that popped into my head was, hey, fuck off and I still wasn't sure if it was a joke and then I'd be telling so-and-so's grandma to eff off, so I played it safe. My bad.]  They drive off, and still sort of hanging her arm of the SUV she's all, byyyye daaaarling.

So what's the lesson here? What's my conclusion? Seriously, what. The fuck.

I'm a huge proponent of it takes a village to raise a child, we need to be aware of our surroundings and watch out for each other and we're all a part of this community etc. etc. But to me, that means if my kid is at the park and falls off the monkey bars I'd appreciate it if you asked if she was okay, maybe dusted off a knee, that sort of thing. If she's lost you help her find mall security. What you DON'T do is question my judgement, to me, as a parent. Do whatever you want with your judgement to your BMW driver, question the shit out of whatever you see. Did you see that lady letting her kids ride their bikes? Whatever is this world coming to? I don`t care. Think whatever you want. But the definition of it takes a village does not mean condescendingly drip your ideals of right and wrong at me.

I don`t know, it was just so weird. I mean, I read that Free Range kids book a long time ago ( and LOVED it), and that's kind of what I'm trying to do. Assure myself that danger really doesn't lurk around every corner and life isn't menacing 99 percent of the time. It's work, it really is, especially for me with my ability to take any worry and build it into a monster that rents a room upstairs. But I can see how it happens, how this insidious seed takes hold of a new parent who thinks they are a rational and capable human being and then you're offered all this Advice which really is not advice, but more Do it Like This and it can make you question your own judgement. Shit like my eldest daughter wouldn't (couldn't) nurse and it nearly killed me, I mean it really ate away at me and tormented me and I tortured myself pumping for weeks and it wasn't easy pumping it was mastitis and poor milk production and so then I gave her bottles and one time in the Bay elevator this lady told me breast is best. Honestly.

So here's a thought. We don't really get to drive around and sort of offer our unsolicited Advice to parents. Feel free to drop me a compliment, maybe, like good for you for taking your kids out for a bike ride when your knee is garbage and you're obviously tired and maybe you have a bit of a sore throat. But don't you dare tell me you know better than me about what works for my family*.

*Unless you are my own mother or one of my very best friends.

No comments: