I was speaking to a young lady about all the wonderful things that are going on at Ivy League-West this summer. She was very excited and told me how her sister was majoring in child development. She went on to tell me how much she's learned from her sister and how now she sees parents at the grocery store and just wants to walk up to them and tell them how wrong what they are doing is.
I smiled. I remembered being 18 and working at a preschool with women in their 60's who still, to my dismay, referred to themselves as baby-sitters. At staff meetings I raised my hands eagerly with bright eyes to share all the things I had learned that they could not possibly know. Did I mention they were in their 60's? I blushed. I remembered being 21 and doling out parenting advice like it was going out of style to parents who had not requested it. I sighed. I remembered seeing, perhaps the very parents she's referring to and feeling like handing them my business card and telling them that parenting doesn't have to be so darn difficult.
I looked at this young girl and confronted what I do every day. How can I correct her misconception without stifling her enthusiasm. This is what I told her;
"Well yes, I've been there too. I see parents struggling at best, being completely inappropriate at worst and I too sometimes want to speak up, but then I remind myself that I'm looking through a very tiny window in what is a small part of the day and I don't know what this day has been like for that parent. They could have just received some terrible news or they could be dealing with an illness or they could be doing what's best at that moment for their child who may have a need that I am not aware of. There have been moments where, even with all my training and knowledge, I've snapped at my kids in public. These are moment where I am not at my best. They don't happen often, but if you happened to see me at that moment, you would judge that I was not a good mother, and I am a good mother."
She asked me if I had ever said anything to a parent.
"Yes, actually. If the parent is being inappropriate when they come to pick up their child, I will go over our policies with them and make an appointment to assess if they should continue to bring thier child to me. If it happens while I'm out and about and I don't know the parent, I say a prayer for both the parent and child because it is at moments when we are at our worst that we need God's grace the most. Everyone is doing the best they know how and I just remind myself that that's all anyone can do until they learn to do and be better."