A couple months ago, I was at the pharmacy picking up a medication for my son because he had a truly disgusting sinus infection. I had him in a stroller because I didn’t trust him to keep his bug-ridden hands to himself and because a 22-month old loose in a pharmacy is rarely a good idea (especially one who enjoys impersonating a tornado).
While we were waiting on the prescription to be filled, a woman came up to me and told me that my son was “too big to be in a stroller” and if “I knew how to properly control him” I wouldn’t need to use it. I didn’t know this woman, I hadn’t even made eye contact with her, and I certainly wasn’t wearing a t-shirt that said, “Please critique my parenting choices.” Irrespective of this, she still felt the need to reprimand me for using a stroller.
I thought about lying and saying that my son had polio or a congenital spinal deformity in an attempt to make her feel guilty for being rude to me, but I didn’t. Instead, I simply offered up my son’s snotty hand and said she was welcome to walk around with him while we waited.
This is by no means the first time I have been chastised by total strangers for raising my child differently than how they think I should. And, I’m doubting it will be the last.
It has been a wonderful reminder to me, however, to not clutter up my time worrying about what other people are doing as long as they’re not actually injuring themselves or others, putting another person or themselves in harm’s way, or violating another person’s rights.
As annoyed as I might be by a person driving a few miles below the speed limit, I just assume there is a reason and give the person the benefit of the doubt. As irksome as it is when someone’s cell phone rings in a movie theater, I just assume it must be an emergency and go back to enjoying the film. If I see a tall child in a stroller, I know the kid is safe and don’t let it bother me. Not letting these minor frustrations get to me frees up my emotions and time to focus on things I enjoy and want to do.
There are only 24 hours in a day, and I have decided not to fill that time being frustrated by other people and negative situations that are out of my control (again, assuming nothing really bad is occurring). I barely have the energy to do all of the things I want to do, and giving people the benefit of the doubt helps me to stay in control of my emotions and time.
In light of practicing what I preach, from this point forward I’m just going to assume that the woman who criticized me about having my son in a stroller was having a bad day. She likely felt the need to yell at me because someone had probably screamed at her. I ended up getting a good reminder out of the situation (give people the benefit of the doubt) and an introduction for a post (this one), so at least a couple good things came from the tongue lashing.