April 20, 2012

To the Man Who Saw Me Outside the Museum of Fine Arts Today at 9:52 AM

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.



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  • Reply Ken April 20, 2012 at 2:09 am

    Sorry you had to go through that but WOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOO this is on Grade A+++ rant! And you are so right – HE is the one who can’t control his need to hear his own voice. And he’s had a long life to try and learn that lesson and has failed. Bravo Emily BRAVO (gives nice long slow clap)

  • Reply WendyElissa April 20, 2012 at 2:18 am

    Someone told me it doesn’t matter what other people think. But it does to me. Especially when I know they don’t understand the whole picture. Sounds like a great day with a couple of frustrating moments. But, yeah, I know how other people’s opinions of my own parenting skills can make me feel: not good. I hope writing this blog entry helped you to feel better! Lately I’ve been thinking that people assume once you are a parent you should be perfect. But we can’t be. We can only be, at best, really good. And all that other stuff you did today was really really good, so a moment of frustration on your part is totally understandable and part of being a parent.
    And I love how this was “Tagged as.”

  • Reply alejna April 20, 2012 at 2:47 am

    A first class rant, indeed. People who get all judgy in other people’s faces make my blood boil. That man definitely could learn some self-control, himself, to keep his damn opinions to himself.

    You are a phenomenal parent, Emily. You never cease to impress me with all that you do.

    Also, I really should take my kids to the MFA soon. I haven’t been there in ages.

  • Reply Deena @ stay at home FOODIE April 20, 2012 at 3:06 am

    Oh, Emily. I’m sorry. I’ve had a few days like that and I only have two girls. Hang in there.

  • Reply Melanie April 20, 2012 at 3:28 am

    Oh man do I feel your pain, my daughter at eight days old developed a hemangioma (commonly referred two as strawberry birthmarks) on her forehead, it rapidly grew/changed and got more and more red/deep burgundy in color… let me be clear we were EXTREMELY lucky in that it was never more than a dime in size, and it never stuck out away from her forehead anymore than say a large pimple might (maybe a mm or two??)…. at any rate, if it were anywhere else on her body people likely wouldn’t have noticed it, at least not right off, but because it was just above her left eyebrow (very close to the center of her face) it was the first thing everyone noticed on a baby with nothing but peach fuzz for hair…. none of this bothered me except for all the idiots who not only assumed the worst of me as a parent, but felt the need to approach me with accusation in their voices demanding to know how I harmed my child. The questions I got were horrific, and I am not sure the hate-filled glares I received were any better than the questions, in fact they were worse because I couldn’t very well snap at everyone who looked at me rudely that it was in fact a flipping birthmark! At any rate, the moral of my little short story of a comment, is that I don’t know why people feel the need to butt in, its so hurtful and I never ONCE had anyone apologize to me for the tone they used when questioning me, even after I explained what it was (and honestly I have a hard time understanding how people thought it was an injury at all, I have yet to see an injury that looks ANYTHING like it!!) sorry you had to listen to the jerk.

  • Reply Painted Maypole April 20, 2012 at 3:51 am

    Empathy. Some people do not have it.

  • Reply Jennifer April 20, 2012 at 4:46 am

    You earned every word of this.

  • Reply Heather April 20, 2012 at 11:32 am


  • Reply niobe April 20, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    People feel free to say all kinds of idiotic things. I feel free to ignore them.

    I know. I know. Easier said than done.

  • Reply Anjali April 20, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Karma is a bitch.

    I predict the next outing with his grandchildren will be a nightmare, with an equally harsh judgment going his way.

  • Reply fiwa April 20, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    What Anjali said. Hurtful old windbag – who, as Ken said, obviously is enamored with hearing the sound of his own voice.

  • Reply lifeineden April 20, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    that’s always the worst part about when I lose it in public place — people just don’t know (or don’t bother to imagine) there is a back story, one that is often pretty complicated. it’s sad how little credit we give one another.

    hoping you are feeling better. god knows I’ve felt this way lots — even yesterday in fact 🙂

  • Reply Lauren April 20, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    It always amazes me what people feel the need to say. Sometimes it is the guise of ‘being helpful’ yet obnoxious and sometimes just plain obnoxious. Argh. You have my sympathy.

  • Reply And then there’s the woman at 8:50 April 21, 2012 at 12:53 am

    […] outside the Museum of Fine Arts at 8:50 AM, not 100 yards from the spot where, yesterday morning, some guy called me out for yelling at Benjamin.  I’m not yelling now, and Benjamin is happily running up the steps and down the ramp.  Lilah […]

  • Reply Mona Wise April 21, 2012 at 7:38 am

    You do not need my sympathy Emily…just a pat on the back is all.
    A very good ‘friend’ of mine told me last year that she could not be around me
    with her child because I yelled at my kids. I let this get me down for three months.
    My Mum and hubby teased me about it day in and day out….I started to change the way
    I was parenting … I stopped yelling and started worrying ALOT that maybe I was damaging the children because of all the yelling. Then one day, after being told five million times not to run after the mail van when it comes in the driveway, my mothering instinct told me to check on my seven year old around the side of the house. I saved her from being reversed over by the mailman because…..and wait for it….I yelled at her. After I got her out of harms way I yelled at her again and put my yelling hat back on. If I ever meet that guy who offered you so much parenting guidance I will be sure to tell him to mind his own fucking business too. You rock. You know this, right?

  • Reply Teme April 22, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    I was wondering if you know where to find this guy? Because I need to go yell at him.

  • Reply Absence of Alternatives April 29, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Thank you for giving Judgey McJudgeis out there a piece of our collective mind!

  • Reply Sue Wilden June 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Emily……You are so right….people do not know half the story and want to put their two cents in. You are doing a great job with your kids. Just be careful with how much you do to appease them. Benjamin proving to you he can behave appropriately, “because it was interesting,” does not mean you need to jump through hoops so he does not misbehave when something is not interesting enough for him. His comment means he needs to learn, and, you expect him to act appropriately even when things are not that interesting for him.

  • Reply JC July 4, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Can I get an “amen”? So well put!

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