Would you like a side of parenting advice with that?
Me:Hi, can I have a medium coffee please?
McDonalds Employee:[points to my baby asleep in a Moby wrap under a giant coat] Your coat is unzipped.
Me:Yes, thank you. So... cream and no sugar?
McDonalds Employee:Your coat, it's unzipped.
Me:Yes, thank you.
McDonalds Employee:Was that a small coffee with cream and sugar?
Me:No, medium coffee, with cream, no sugar.
McDonalds Employee:I can see your baby's back, you really should zip up, it's cold. Your baby must be cold.
McDonalds Employee:It was a small coffee?
Hold His Head! Hold His Head!!!

When my son was 10 months old, my husband and I went for a walk with him in a ring sling. When we got to a park of town with tall buildings, he bent himself backwards to look all the way up. My husband and I were carrying on with our conversation as we passed an older woman. Then we heard, “Hold his head!” We glanced at eachother, like, “Oh man, not a meddler” and kept on walking. 

She chased us an entire block, yelling “Hold his head! Your baby is going to break his neck!!” The kid was old enough to walk! He had plenty of muscle control. It was mortifying, her chasing us, and it made me so incredibly angry, I just couldn’t even acknowledge her or else shit would be going down.

Can I See the Baby?

We were at a hotel for a little family vacation. My daughter was about 4 months old at the time and she started screaming her head off. She was crying and both my husband and I were trying to calm her down when we hear a knock on the door. We look through the peephole expecting maybe housekeeping or something, but it was just some woman. She asked if the baby was ok, and we politely said yes, thank you. She then asked if she could see the baby to make sure she was ok!!! I was shocked, creeped out, and told her to please leave!

Never too young to be worried about sex…

So a few weeks ago, I’m in a shop, with my daughter in an Ergo carrier on my front. An old woman ahead of me in line looks at me and says, “In my country, we don’t carry babies like that, with their legs all spread, especially girls”. In my head - is she talking about what I think she might be talking about?

"It’s not good for them. Her husband will look for that you know, and he will be angry". Yes, a random old woman is talking to me about my toddler’s hymen.

"I think she’ll be ok" I said, laughing. She left the store, I checked out with my purchases and left, and lo and behold she was waiting outside the store for me. She grabbed my arm, "It’s not good! It’s not good for her virginity! Her husband will be angry! It’s the first thing he’ll look for!". At which point I just kind of laughed and walked away as fast as I could.

That Mohawk is Sharp!

This incident happened over 3 years ago, but it still makes me crack up. My daughter who is now 5 was about 18 months old and we went into this restaurant. The establishment was a traditional cafe setup near a seaside resort in the UK. It was not exactly family friendly and the sign banning strollers annoyed me no end. Still, we were hungry and kiddo needed feeding, so in we went with our folded up contraband buggy.

As well as my daughter, I was with my husband who is a lovely quiet and unassuming man. He just happens to have a large Mohican and a spike through his chin. I was also with two friends. We sat down and immediately this older woman and her husband clocked us, and started frowning. Obviously the presence of children in eating establishments can disturb some people and play havoc with their delicate digestion. Also, the presence of young adults in a resort usually populated by the over 60’s can seem somewhat incongruous. I noticed her because she was wearing this hideous shiny nylon pea green suit with massive gold clip on earrings, giving her the effect of a rather matronly leprechaun. Being a civilised person I kept this opinion to myself as it is not my business to tell other people what to wear and to make comments on someones appearance in such a way would be rude.

Anyhow we sat down, ordered food. My daughter had some soup I think and lots of other food from out plates, picking it up with her fingers and eating some, and throwing the rest to the imaginary dog on the floor. After a while, she started wailing, BOOBIES so I took her out of the highchair and nursed her. At which point the leprechaun lady started pointing and staring and loudly ‘whispering’ to her husband ‘THAT IS DISGUSTING’ in a very British manner, shaking her head and pointing. Next, once my daughter had finished eating I passed her over to her daddy as she was asleep and I wanted to finish eating. Then she ‘whispered’ very passively and aggressively ‘LOOK! THAT HAIR IS DANGEROUS! HE WILL CUT HER FACE WITH HIS HAIR! HE SHOULDN’T HAVE HAIR LIKE THAT AND KISS HER!’ I managed not to snort my food whilst I finished up and then left Mrs Leprechaun to her misconceptions of the sharpness of my husband’s hair. 

No shoes, no problem?

I was out with my baby girl in august, one of the hottest days of the year, I was standing in the bank waiting for my hubby who was talking to a cashier, my baby girl had been sitting in her pushchair and had pulled off her socks and booties, I picked her up to give her a cuddle while I was waiting and a middle aged severe looking woman walked past and said loudly to thin air (she was alone) “no socks or shoes on on a day like this!” tutted and walked off! her socks and booties were clearly visible in the pushchair, it was a very hot day and we were inside anyway! Completely driven me mad ever since arrrggggg!

Butt out — Doctor’s orders!

My first child was about 5 months old when we were went to a small grocery store to pick up a few things on a nice sunny day.  Walking the 10 yards into the store from the parking lot, an older woman walked up to stop us… I was certain to tell me how cute my baby was.  She speaks directly to my infant daughter, “You tell your mommy you need to be wearing a hat!!!”  I was speechless at the unsolicited advice, but wished I would’ve come back with “As her mother, and as a PEDIATRICIAN I feel comfortable with deciding when my child needs a hat. Thanks for your concern.”

That Baby Looks Dead

I am walking around the grocery store with my ten month daughter on my back in the sling. She is happily sleeping. An older woman approaches me from behind:

Random Lady: I hope you know that your baby is dead

Me: Oh, she’s just sleeping

Random Lady: I think I know the difference between a dead baby and a sleeping one

My baby: *cough* *wiggle*

Random Lady: Seeeeee? Death throws!

She exits triumphantly. I stand there in silent disbelief for a few moments before bursting into laughter. A few minutes later I hear her instructing another mother to take her son out of the shopping trolley seat because “the germs in that thing will kill him!”

Grandma-turity Lessons

My mom makes no sense to me - she raised my sister and I in a hands-off manner, and never hugged or really showed any affection. We didn’t talk about parenting or how I wanted kids someday, because frankly the idea of telling her scared me. So when I DID start having children with my now husband, I was almost 24. I lived on my own, and generally didn’t ask her for any advice on anything. We co-existed nicely that way. The day I told her I was expecting, she lit a cigarette in front of me and told me I couldn’t have one. Seems like a great grandma to be, right?

The meddling started before he was even born:

- When my husband proposed to me, my childless sister and mother attempted to throw together a shotgun wedding in two months, blaming hubby every time I voiced distaste in the project. What did I need a nice wedding for? "You never wanted to get married anyway." … I didn’t? That doesn’t sound right.

- They watched my appointments and “progress” like a hawk.
"You’re not giving birth at home. It makes me uncomfortable."
"Can midwives even deliver in hospital? Are you nuts?"
"You REALLY need to book your Lamaze classes, you know."
"You know I have to be present for the birth, right?"
"When do you register with the hospital? Why haven’t you done that? You can’t leave that up to the midwives."
"Are you going to meet an OB before he comes??"
"Oh thank God! If you were going to try that homebirth business we were going to stage an intervention!"
(They really had a dim view of midwifery apparently.)

… and, la piece de resistance from that childless sister: while very politely attempting to explain that I was banning all visitors from the hospital entirely until I returned home safely, and that my husband and I are very private folks and really didn’t want to turn my delivery into a spectacle:

"You know that they’re not f***ing there to see you, RIGHT?”

Woo Nelly! This isn’t just drive-by advice! This is “park in the driveway and bust into the house and try to reposition my breastfeeding infant” advice! Here’s where it all gets really funny; once my son was born the meddling became much more defiant. My mom is really unimpressed that I am not a total failure and that my son is truly a sweet, smart, adorable little boy. She asks him often “how he got to be so cute/sweet/smart” while I stand there, as if he can answer at 15mo - as if it wasn’t obvious that he’s a happy little boy who loves his [competent] parents. So her reaction is to simply not listen to anything I tell her. Here’s what we deal with now:

"Can he have chicken?"
"… yes, and he gets it often. But please don’t give him any of your wings. They’re honey garlic and the sauce could make him sick."
"Oh, it’s just the inside."

… and then hands him (15mo!) a chicken wing. Bravo, Mom. I don’t know how I lived past 5 in your house. She also thinks that sugar-free Jello makes an acceptable lunch, but that I MUST continue feeding my boy pureed baby food.

"Are you out of baby food?"
"We stopped buying it. It’s expensive, he doesn’t like us spoon-feeding him anymore, and it’s easier for me to make him bite-sized real food."
"But you have to balance his diet!!!"

Apparently you cannot balance a diet if it is cooked from scratch and then eaten with your fingers? It must be boiled and pureed and then FOUGHT into the mouth of a baby who really just wants to eat grown-up food and is capable of feeding himself.

But what do I know. I “said I never wanted kids.”

When I was 15. 

He could DIE.

I took my six week old son to a basement rummage sale at a local church.  He was snuggled up against my chest, wrapped in my favorite Maya wrap.  Face exposed, pacifier in, sleeping peacefully.  As I sat down on a bench to adjust my braid (caught in the back of the wrap and pulling annoyingly), a kindly attendant asked me how old my child was.  We chatted for a moment and as I stood up and tightened my sling a bit to ensure the little guy was secure, she threw this gem over her shoulder, leaving no option for rebuttal.  

"You should be careful with those, babies have DIED!"  

Uh, thanks?  I’m so not a fool.  And I’m pretty sure that this isn’t the kind of wrap where “babies DIE.”