I am so judgemental. I admit it. This was especially true when I was The World's Greatest Mother Ever, back in 2001. My first child was born in 2003.
That's right, I knew everything. How to discipline, how to get your child on a schedule, what kind of food to feed your baby, what you are doing wrong (hint: everything), how much TV is acceptable (none), and at what age your child should be reading independently (two years old).
Needless to say, I have had to, ummmm, amend some of these beliefs. OK, not some, more like all.
It is very very easy to be an "armchair quarterback" or in this case, an "armchair mother." You might think you know everything, but until you have actually LIVED it, you do not.
When I lived in California, I had a friend named Mary Ann who had a sweet little daughter named Dylan. Imagine my dismay when I saw Mary Ann give this little girl CANDY on more than one occasion! Sometimes before 10:30 in the morning!
Oh, the horror!
I expected all her teeth to instantaneously rot out of her head. Mary Ann would dole out candy as a reward, and sometimes withhold candy as a punishment. Other times, candy was a bribe. It was the Candy Channel, 24/7.
Did I voice my concerns to Mary Ann like a true friend would? Hell, no. Instead, I sat there smugly, watching her, and thinking exactly what every-woman-with-no-children has thought before me:
"That will never be me. I am better than that. My future child will never eat candy, and certainly NOT before breakfast."
Flash forward nine years. I now am the mother of two young sons, Tall-- age 6 1/2, and Short-- age 4. This morning, after dropping Tall off at summer camp, I drive Short to the bank drive-thru window so I can cash a check. He is whining that he wants to go to summer camp too, how it is NOT FAIR that Tall gets to go, and that four is a good age for camp and not too young. He is talking himself into a frenzy, getting more and more upset. The screechy whining is giving me a headache; I am annoyed. So I strike a deal:
"Short, if you stop whining right now, I will give you a lollipop when we leave the bank."
Ever the negotiator, he pushes, "Two?"
"Okay, fine, sure, two lollipops."
The whining ceases, and a sense of calm descends upon the car. The teller finishes the transaction and places the money in the envelope so it won't blow away. On top of the envelope are two lollipops. One is strawberry and one is peach. I thank the teller as I slide the money into my wallet. I turn around in my seat and reach out to Short. He takes the lollipops and smiles. I glance at the clock on my dashboard.