Friday, September 28, 2012

The Real Judgement-Free Zone.

I was going to write on a totally different topic today, but I decided to change it up because something just occurred to me as I was cleaning up the toys from A's play date this morning. 

Being new to the whole play date world, I have been lucky enough to find another new stay-at-home and first-time Mom with a daughter about the same age as A.  I actually used to work with her in my last job, so its always nice catching up with her on old work stories, as well as navigating this whole new world together.  (I showed up to our first play date with a bag full of toys because, as I admitted to her later, I had no idea if it was like a BYOT kind of party...)

Play dates and other interactions with other young children make me a little nervous.  A is a bit strong-willed, bossy... ok, A is an absolute brutal and unmerciful Dictator at times with her toys.  And by "her toys" I mean any thing within her general vicinity, actual ownership not withstanding.  If another person (child or adult) gets anywhere near a toy or object A has laid claim to, she will let that person know.  Loudly.  And to make matters worse, sometimes when she gets really frustrated, she will show it by hitting.  It horrifies me.  But hitting aside, even her loud "no, no, no" makes me so nervous.  I don't want to have the child that is so bossy, she doesn't get invited back to play;  or is so mean the other children don't like her.  Or worse, the other Moms don't want their children around her.

I know A is a sweet, loving, funny, and happy baby.  I can brush all of her tantrums, hitting, bossiness, and frustrations off on her being 18 months.  She's a BABY!  She thinks it is acceptable to use her yogurt as war paint! We're not talking about a 15 year old.  Of course she's going to act out, hit, yell, cry.  That's what babies do.  So, then why am I so terrified of her doing this around other people?  Why am I so terrified of her doing this around other Moms with children just like her?

(For the purpose of this story, we'll refer to the other little girl as "J" and her Mom as "Jane".)

As the children were playing today, J went over to A's Minnie Mouse Car and started pushing it.  A immediately ran over to it and forcefully yanked it away.  What made matters worse, in my head at least, is that J is a very sweet, calm, and good little girl.  She's always well-behaved, smiling, and peaceful; and at that very moment, A was certainly not peaceful.  Panicked, I firmly said, "A, you have to share" and then sheepishly looked at Jane and said, "A isn't very good at sharing, she's a bit bossy sometimes". 

Do you know what came next?  Disgust?  A disapproving look?  Concern?   Nope!  Jane smiled and said, "Oh, J can be like that too."  You know why?  Because she's a baby, too.  And that's what babies do.

Something similar happened last week when A and I got together with a group of my friends and their young children.  One of the little girls didn't want to get into her stroller, so she started crying and fussing in the exact same way A usually does.  And when I look back on it, I wasn't disgusted or judgmental.  I was understanding, and in fact, I remember feeling a sense of relief that other children act the same way A does.  Because that's what babies do.

So why do I still get so nervous over A's behavior, especially around other parents?  Moms are, or at least should be, the real judgement-free zone.  We've all been there.  And just because one child is acting at that very moment like the picture of perfection, doesn't mean that 20 minutes later they aren't going absolutely nuclear because they dropped a Cheerio.  And for every hissy-fit A has every thrown because she doesn't want to share, there are moments like yesterday when I finished my snack first - a bowl of cut up apples - when upon seeing my empty bowl, A lovingly looked at me and said/signed "more" and filled my bowl up with three more apple slices from her bowl, with a big "I love you, Mama" smile on her face.       



  1. 5 years of mommyhood under my belt and I still have those moments of panic... even with the oldest! I feel like play dates are like blind dates in the beginning when you are trying to establish who your mommy friends are. There will always be those few you click best with because you are both able to relax and let the kids be kids, while you and her get to just be women.

  2. Re: bossy at 18 mo. When my son was about that age we were at the outdoor playground of a children's museum. (this place leaves their outdoor stuff open for all) . Y'know those little tykes cars? My son wanted to play in it but another (maybe 2yo ?) had it. P walked over and opened the door, pulled the kid out and left him on the ground like an upside down turtle, got in and rolled away!! Talk about mortifying!! Fortunately, the other parent was super mellow an jus shrugged.
    Just thought I'd share in the hopes of making you chuckle :) -Nissa