OPinion

I’ll Get Off My Phone When You Get Off Your High Horse

This sign is making the rounds today. Just in case you weren’t aware, you are doing parenting ALL WRONG. And because I wrote it in caps, it must be true.

So, let me address the author of this little note at a child care centre in Texas. Better still, let me address the dozens of parents I have seen celebrating its contents on social media today. I’m normally pretty level headed online, but this post from multiple groups has automatically invoked the spirit of my ranty pants. The rantiest of all my ranty pants, because frankly, this attitude – and worse, the people who cheer on this attitude without really considering what it means – kind of pisses me off. Yep I cussed. I went there. Its that bad.

I considered writing a satirical piece. I mean, honestly, parents judging parents for not being perfect enough while picking the kids up from day care? Its too perfect. You have all the hot buttons. Day care. Technology. Indulging your child’s every whim. Throw in vaccination and I’m up for a Pulitzer.

But addressing this through satire would be passive aggressive. And there’s too many layers of irony there for me to fully understand. So instead, point by point, lets really examine this sucker in all its passive aggressive glory.

You are picking up your child exclamation mark!

16179065_10212659087937911_4669273857233235997_oYes. I am. Thank you for reminding me – I had forgotten I wasn’t lying on a beach in Fiji being fed Ferrero Rochers by Chris Hemsworth. Entering a den of dozens of screaming pre schoolers is so similar to my every fantasy, its an easy mistake to make, but that exclamation point really brought me back down to earth.

GET OFF YOUR PHONE QUADRUPLE EXCLAMATION POINT UNDERLINE BOLD ALL CAPS!!!!

Thanks Mum. How do I do an eye roll in real life? Oh yeah, eye roll.

Your child is happy to see you! Are you happy to see your child??

Well, mostly yes, but I’ll be honest, there’s a small part of me that wishes I didn’t have to put up with sticky hands, the g force sickness that comes with the Mach 5 dinner rush and that inevitable 5.15pm tantrum from an actual toddler after being in a meeting with pretend toddlers at work all day. Sometimes I would like a 5 minute relax. See Chris Hemsworth fantasy above.

Also, My child IS happy to see me, and though I love him or her and am delighted to spend some time with him or her (lets assume her for the rest of this because its easier) they will probably be happy for about 5 minutes before they get over it and just want me to do stuff for them. I really really want to hear about their day once I get into the car and we’re all settled, but I have a feeling finding out about it will require the patience of a saint and the negotiation skills of the Pope’s mistress. Never fear though, I’m sure she’ll be desperate for me to turn on the television the second she gets home. Which either means I suck even more because she knows what televisions are and SCREEN TIME etc etc, or she loves me but doesn’t need my attention every second we are together. Hmmm.

We have seen children wanting to hand their parents their work (at least these guys can differentiate between their and there) they completed and the parent is on the phone.

Well, yes, sorry about that. It does happen occasionally that I can’t tend to my child’s every need the very second they require my attention. And funnily enough, while you judgey mcjudgersons sit there and JUDGE (see caps works both ways), if I was to humour them every single time they want something you’d probably say I was being too indulgent and that I’ll end up with a spoilt brat for a daughter. In fact, you’d likely say that she’ll end up not able to entertain herself, will be too needy, won’t be able to think for herself, etc etc. But hey, it’s worked so far for Donald Trump!

It’s okay though. I’m actually not chatting to my manicurist or gossiping about who’s husband Sally wants to sleep with. I may, for example, have a parent of my own that needs full time care or is ill. I may be organising Electra’s swimming lessons for tomorrow because she’s so disappointed she hasn’t gone up a group like her friend Albertina, and it kills me that she’s so upset, and the swim school is about to close. There may be a document that needs signing at work before tomorrow morning and I didn’t want to remind my boss while I was driving a car, because, you know, that’s illegal and dangerous and if I got caught GOD THEN WHAT WOULD YOUR JUDGY PANTS SAY????? Thing is, you don’t know why I’m on the phone and It’s nunya damn biznez anyway. Yet you still want to judge me for it. You’re gagging for it. Go figure.

We heard a child say “Mommy, mommy, mommy…” and the parent is paying more attention to their phone than their own child.

Huh. Well, given that I’m picking my child up from your care and I’m clearly in a bit of a bind trying to do many things at once (you know, because I’m not a heartless cow who doesn’t WANT to cuddle my child the first second I see her), the polite thing to do if you do notice might be to help out. It might be to say, “Hey, Electra, come and show me! Mummy will be with you in just a second.” If not and you are busy or don’t notice, no biggie. I get that child care workers are over worked, waaaaaayyyyy under paid and probably pretty stressed. Much like, say, parents?

It is appalling.

Well, thank you for that report. I will promptly turn in my mummy badge and throw my child to the wolves because anything would be better than being my child. Or perhaps, you would like a turn to show me how superior your child rearing skills are?

Get Off Your Phone Double Exclamation Mark Underline.

Wow, you really seem to have lost passion halfway through this note. What happened to the quadruple exclamation marks? The All Caps? I mean, far be it from me to judge your ability to do your job in such a judgey pants way, but that’s appalling…SEE HOW THAT FEELS?

Look, I get it. Sometimes we spend too much time on FB or chatting online or playing Bubble Witch 3 because it kicks butt over Bubble Witch 2. (I mean, so I’ve heard). We’re not perfect. But do you know what doesn’t make us more perfect? Child care workers making a value judgement about our parenting skills and by proxy the utter and complete love we feel for our children because they saw us on the phone for one of the 1440 minutes we parent in the day.

Oh, and you know what else? Other parents making even bigger judgements about us, cheering on our haters from the side.

Give it up peeps. You’re not perfect. Neither am I. I am damn sure I adore my children, regardless of the minutes I spend on the phone, and if there genuinely is a problem, its really not your place to say and definitely not through a condescending obnoxious note which, rather than addressing any real issues just makes us all feel like crap (and once she’s seen it, makes it less likely that Miranda will answer that call from her lawyer that she really needs to get in order to have custody orders sorted.)

Let’s just let each other look after our own children and let go of the gleeful faux embarrassed hushed whispers that Christina Applegate in Bad Moms would have been proud of. I’ll do me, you do you. Then child care workers can do, you know, child care and parent their own crotch fruit should they be blessed enough.

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2 thoughts on “I’ll Get Off My Phone When You Get Off Your High Horse

  1. This whole column is extremely petty. The message in the flyer is basic, at least *pretend* to be happy to see your child, and take a moment to recognize something that they made and are proudly trying to show you. You certainly don’t need to break it down and make pointless, petty remarks about each character that is typed onto the flyer. If this parent can’t see the value in greeting her child properly, then that says a lot about not only what type of parent she is, but also who she is as a person. I feel sorry for her child(ren) and, honestly, anybody that has to deal with a person like this.

    1. Fair enough. I think it’s kind of petty to judge parents based on one phone call. Your opinion is your to share, but don’t you think the world, and especially The lives of parents and children, would be exponentially better if we stopped enforcing our own opinions on each others’ parenting standards? If we love our kids, is that not enough anymore? Are you really ok with every move we make- every single minute of every day- being open for examination by anyone and everyone?

      This parent, the author, does not remotely care that you have a different opinion. Please don’t feel sorry for my children- it’s an effective way of shutting down conversation but in truth they are well cared for, loved unconditionally and very well adjusted. And as an added bonus, they will grow up learning to accept others for who they are, rather than scrutinizing them. They’ll start every impression from a place of kindness instead of judgement.

      And I hope that they’ll never ever make a value judgement about another parent over the Internet based on almost no information.

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