Parent War

25 Jul

“Where are his socks?” The third stranger of the day asks.

I bite my tongue and hold in all the mean things I want to say. “He’s okay.” I say. I force a smile. I don’t tell them that he won’t keep socks on. Or that he has such sweaty feet that he gets athletes foot like a grown man. Seriously.

Why is Mister’s lack of footwear such a public interest? There must be a silent parent war raging. Parents must be competing to see who can be the best, and pointing out other’s apparent mistakes is how they do it. That must be why, when I was talking to another mother about Mister’s sleep difficulties, she decided to tell me that his night wakings were a habit I let him form. One point her. It also must be why, when I talk about some milestone Mister has reached, other parents boast that their baby can recite the ABCs backwards while standing on one foot and rubbing his tummy and patting his head at only two months old. Okay, not really, but you get the point.

But, thanks to a recent discovery, I know the trump card equivalent for baby raising. I plan to use this response when I get unwarranted and unwanted parenting advice from now on. You see, my kid eats broccoli.

Let’s see how that would go:

Them: I exclusively nursed my baby for six months. I can’t believe you let Mister start solids at four months!
Me: Well, at least he eats broccoli.

Them: Mister should be wearing sunglasses. The sun is bright today.
Me: I’ll just take him inside and feed him some broccoli.

Them: Isn’t it too cold for a walk today?
Me: Broccoli!

Okay, maybe not that last one.

What kind of unwanted and unwarranted writing advice have you received? What was your response? Or what do you wish could have been?


Posted by on July 25, 2011 in Admitting You Write


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2 responses to “Parent War

  1. Mary

    July 25, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Don’t knock reciting the alphabet backwards! (I’ve used it on job interviews in response to “how can we remember you as a candidate”. Without shame, I burst into backwards song…) Grouchpa can teach him how to say the alphabet as if it is one big word: AB-key DEF ghee JACKEL ma-nop ker STEW ver-icks izz. Accomplish these feats and you and Nakey Feet can have more weapons in your broccoli-eating arsenal. (Oh, and as for it being too cold out? WARM broccoli.)

    I unwittingly engaged in the mommy wars recently: a journal of medicine recommended that children be kept in rear facing car seats until they are 2 years old. I asked, of a friend of mine, if anyone had studied the incidents of broken legs/spines/faces among tall 2 y/o in rear facing seats during car accidents. I was also curious if a 2 y/o could push against the back seat hard enough to loosen the seat belt. One of HER friends LAUNCHED with such vitriol unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Unfortunately, I caught the giggles thinking of 2 year old Roxy in a rear facing car seat. Roxy, for the record, also eats broccoli. Darn, but I should have told her that: “Oh, my kid rides in the way back of the station wagon. But she eats her broccoli!”

    I get unsolicited advice all the time: Because Roxy is such an incurable chow hound, whenever I have her and food in the car and I stop for gas/a quick trip into the post office etc, I take the food out of the car and leave it on the car roof. And then I count the number of people who say “hey, lady, you’ve got a bag of food on your roof.” Yup.

    Sometimes, unsolicited advice is valuable: I really value the reminder that I love semicolons at little too well. Other times, I struggle against it because I feel the criticism entirely lacks direction. I have been told “I don’t like it. Any of it.” Ummmmm, okaaaayyyyy but we go to press in 3 days! So far, my response has been to press for more insight. If I do, the critic MIGHT then report not liking the issue because it wasn’t what was expected. Internal monologue: but we’ve been doing it this way since 1278. Why is using the template that has existed since the dawn of the Habsburg Empire created something unexpected? Again, when pressed, the critic admits displeasure because the work doesn’t sparkle, sizzle, pop, play music or spring to life with talking video commentary. Seriously. So far, I’ve not said, “yes, that’s true. Because it is SUPPOSED to be boring. Its cover story discusses the social condition of Outer Mongolians, for goodness sake.” I admit that I am running out of coping mechanisms to deal with “I don’t like it. Any of it.” So I hope your readers have some ideas. Maybe I’ll tell the critic that my nephew eats broccoli, which hoepfully will confuse him long enough to get out myself of his office.

    • cocoanqueso

      August 2, 2011 at 2:39 pm

      Maybe you could try reciting the alphabet backwards to him. That might be more interesting. Seriously, though, it sounds like the critic is having trouble communicating his vision before the piece is written. Maybe working that out would help. If he still doesn’t like any of it, maybe he’s a pretentious weiner, and maybe all you’re supposed to learn from him is how not to treat people. Good luck!


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