Leave me and my daughter alone, judgmental old women!

“Your little one sounds like she’s hungry,” the woman in line behind me at the drug store volunteered without provocation.

“No,” I smiled. “She fed half an hour ago. She just doesn’t like sitting still in long lines. Thank you, though.”

I’m new to this parenting thing, and when it comes to good advice, I’m all ears. I may not be the type to call for censorship, or to shelter my kid from different lifestyles, but I still believe it takes a village to raise a child. I’ve been grateful for the support and encouragement I’ve gotten from random parents, and especially from fellow dads.

But there’s a certain demographic – for lack of a better name, let’s call it “every older woman in my neighbourhood” – who sees a crying baby in the company of a man and thinks “This guy’s in over his head.”

“Did you bring a bottle with you?” this particular woman insisted.

“Nope,” I said. “She fed half an hour ago, ma’am. She’s not hungry.”

“Okay, she shrugged, with a little bit too much “if you say so” for my liking.

I appreciated her concern, don’t get me wrong. Besides, as intrusive strangers go, she was pretty tame. Consider, for example, the woman who heard my kid crying a few weeks ago at the exact same drug store, and helpfully told me “She needs her mum.”

The list of things I wish I’d said to that woman instead of “Thanks” is pretty long. My brother deserves all the credit for the current winner, “You’re gonna need your mum in a minute, lady.”

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7 Responses to “Leave me and my daughter alone, judgmental old women!”

  1. Peter Lynn says:

    They might not see a crying baby in the company of a man if you’d just remember to bring your purse with you. I mean, side satchel.

  2. Karen Milton says:

    Old ladies (and men!) really enjoy having opinions about kids they’ve never met. I’ve been getting lectures for many years about all sorts of things, up to and including my pregnancy weight gain, tattooed appearance and marital status. Today I got a talking-to about Aidan’s cell phone, in fact. Some people take ‘it takes a village’ reeeeeeally seriously, and darned if they’re not going to be that village.

  3. Leon says:

    Sounds like you ran into my mom.

  4. Matt says:

    Karen, you’re right. I shouldn’t have let the guys off the hook by omission. Most of the conversations I’ve had with fellow dads – like most of the conversations I’ve had with moms – have been useful and uplifting. But the exceptions are hardly limited to older ladies. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t say that anyone who thinks you’re not doing a great job with your kids can shove it, because of course you are.

    Peter, it’s called a diaper bag. Get with the times.

  5. Johnpapa says:

    “thanks, but she’s on a diet”

  6. adam says:

    Oh! I’m sorry! I could’ve sworn this was my daughter. Perhaps I should run away before you call child services on me for the abuse I am putting her through by letting her cry.

    I’ve used this, not when she was crying, because I generally just shot a dirty look, & that worked wonders. But more recently, because I was told I was a awful parent for keeping her out of school.

    I have no tolerance for people that don’t mind their own business when it comes to the narrow viewpoints of a father with his child.

    In my opinion, the only ones that should be able to get away with this, are grandparents. Friends, & other family are OK as well, as long as the advice is sought out by a parent.

  7. mike says:

    Wait till she gets older and the old ladies start talking directly to her – “Dad’s got no idea what he’s doing, huh? Just hang in there, I’ll bring you a lollipop.”