Hi, there. Not sure if you remember me. I’m the mom who was yelling at her five-year-old today as you walked past with your wife and two grandchildren. The mom who turned around to set up the stroller and then turned back to find that her son, in his insatiable need to annoy his three-year-old sister, had been poking her behind my back, making her cry and knocking over the snacks sitting between them? The one who yelled: “You can’t behave for the five seconds it takes for me to set up the stroller!”
Right. You remember me. I know you do, because you took it upon yourself to advise me, as you strolled past, “Lady, you need to learn to control yourself.”
Now, you didn’t ask, because you were too busy judging me, but we are five days into an April school break during which my husband is in fucking Barcelona. The reason I was sitting outside the MFA at 9:52 AM is that seven-year-old Zachary is doing a four-day class at the museum that meets from nine to noon. He’s doing this class because I know that the boys cannot control themselves together all day long. I know that Zachary cannot control himself if he is without some sort of structured activity for too long. I know these things, so I was helping the boys control their behavior by separating them.
The museum, as you know, doesn’t open until 10, so we had an hour to kill after dropping Zach off. I had taken Benjamin and Lilah to the park across the street to run, because I know that Benjamin cannot control his body without several periods of gross motor activity a day. Then I had taken them back to the bench near the museum to eat their snack, including whole grains because I know Benjamin cannot control himself when his blood sugar gets low.
Benjamin knew the schedule in advance. You see, Tuesday and Wednesday we had hosted two rather unsuccessful playdates, by which I mean he called one friend an idiot (seven times by the child’s count) and spent the last five minutes of the other playdate screaming and slamming doors. So, I decided we would stay at the museum today, because I know that constant cognitive engagement helps Benjamin control himself. Last night, we sat down together and wrote out a schedule for today, complete with times, because I know that he can control himself better if he knows what’s coming and when.
I did not, however, write in the incident at 9:52. That was ad libbed.
The reason I was setting up the stroller, in case you were wondering, is that Lilah had already run about a good deal, and I knew she would get weepy as the morning wore on if she were tired. Which would mean I would be carrying her while chasing Benjamin through the Vermeers.
You know what I didn’t need today? I didn’t need your asshole mouth opening up and telling me I need to learn to control myself. In fact, I was controlling myself; I was not hitting him, demeaning him, or using foul language. I was simply raising my voice. Perhaps you don’t remember having young children, or perhaps you were fortunate enough to have children without any special needs. Parents have been known to yell at their kids when they misbehave.
I’m just guessing here, but you’re most likely the shithead who tells parents in diners, “You need to teach your kids to control themselves.”
We saw you a few times today, and I noticed you avoided looking at me. That’s OK, because I was too busy reading all the descriptions to my more-or-less perfectly behaved kindergartener, who wanted the specifics on every gem in the jewelry section and needed to know exactly which organs went in which jars in the mummy gallery.
As we left the museum today, I said to Benjamin, “You behaved really well here. I had a very nice time with you.”
“It’s because it was interesting,” he replied, which means we’ll be in the museum all day tomorrow, because when I figure out which context helps my kids control themselves, I go with it.
Since you were kind enough to offer your pearls of wisdom, let me return the favor. In the future, keep your fucking opinions to yourself. Until you’ve lived with two very high-needs children, until you’ve spent considerable brain power figuring out how to minimize conflict, until you’ve walked a few yards in my shoes, you have no ground to stand on.
Mind your own fucking business. Learn how to control yourself.