One of the super fun things about motherhood is the way everyone has a better idea of how to raise your child than you do. Whether you’re being lambasted on Facebook by Judgerson McGillicuddie when you post a picture of your 11-month-old eating bananas and OH MY GAWD HIDE THE CHILDREN peanut butter, or you’re being scolded by a senile hairdresser for casually mentioning your plan to sleep train your baby who isn’t even born yet, the world makes good and certain that you’re aware of your complete incompetence when it comes to raising your own kid. It’s nothing short of miraculous if your offspring survive to adolescence under your watch since – let’s be honest – you’re really only qualified to be the caretaker of a jar of earthworms.
Ah yes, motherhood: damned if you do, damned if you don’t, damned if you breathe the wrong way.
But huzzah! Complete and utter incompetence loves company, and that’s why I’m thrilled to tell you today that dads are just as awful at raising their kids as we moms are! What’s more, dads are not immune to the unsolicited tsk-tsks of nosy busybodies who have nothing better to do than point out their flaws in Whole Foods parking lots! Oppa!
Last Friday was a pretty typical spring day. The sun was shining and the temperature was holding steady at 75 degrees when I dressed C in a yellow sundress she got for her birthday. It being spring, however, the pollen count was also through the roof, so she wasn’t in the best of spirits. Her sinuses contained several gallons of mucus and nary a Neti Pot could be found in our home.
Against our better judgement (of course), neither B nor I thought to stick a sweater in her bag when we shuttled her out to my mom’s house for the day. We realized the error in our ways when we picked her up at 5:45 that afternoon and the typical spring temperature had dipped down to 53 degrees. Whoops?
On our drive home through the icy tundra, we stopped at Whole Foods to pick up something for dinner. Not content to dine on the peasant fare of quinoa wraps and California rolls, C elected to have a complete and utter meltdown in the store when we vetoed her dinner selection of vegan sugar cookies and organic M&M’s. I really thought her tantrums would become a memory once she turned three, but I also once believed that the moon was made of cheese. So, y’know.
Leaving a trail of snot and tears in their wake, B got her out of there within two seconds. He had a choice: let the kid scream bloody murder in the middle of the grocery store or remove her to the icy wilderness of the parking lot. Recognizing the sacredness of Whole Foods, he opted for the latter.
And with that choice, he sealed his fate. He was an Awful Parent.
As he held his screaming progeny in the parking lot and prevented her from diving headfirst to the fleet of oncoming Priuses, a pair of older women who know what’s best for everyone in the entire universe approached him to tell him that his daughter was unhappy, something he could have never deduced on his own.
The reason for her unhappiness? The fact that she was inadequately dressed for the weather.
He should have dressed her appropriately.
Why did he not?
My husband is a good person who generally treats people with grace even when they say the absolute most ignant nonsense you can concoct. This instance was no different. He nodded, Yes, this child is crying, yes, she is likely cold, and Yes, she is likely ill-dressed for the weather.
As the know-it-all women walked off with nary an encouraging word, B stood there stunned by the absolute lack of shame some people have for doling out too-little-too-late advice to parents. I can’t help but wonder what they would have said if they had had their kale-buying excursion inside ruined by C’s screams. Truly, you cannot win when you’re a parent. You’re either ticking off grocery shoppers for not caving to your child’s ridiculous demands, or you’re receiving citations from the Grandmother Police for failure to pack a sweater on spring days.
The good news, though, is that complete incompetence is not reserved for the mothers of this world. There’s plenty to go ’round for the dads, too. The leaps we’re making towards equality are really encouraging.