I don’t have a ferret.
But I have a friend who has a ferret.
I don’t really know how ferrets are supposed to behave. I don’t know what they eat or where they sleep. My friend could tell me that it’s completely normal for her ferret to glow in the dark or sing show tunes and I’d have to believe her. Because I don’t have a ferret.
You may have already come to this conclusion but let me give you a hint…this blog entry is not about ferrets.
This blog entry is about a comment I happened to catch that came from a childless person. The comment involved…you guessed it…the person ranting about someone else’s parenting skills. Oh, my favorite! I love it when non-ferret having people put in their two cents. I love it even more when they are total assholes about it!
The extremely short version of the story is that this person witnessed a parent do something that they would NEVER do! They would have handled the situation differently. They would have done what a “good parent” would have done. Thus making this mother a “bad parent”. (It's obviously a more detailed story but I'm trying to protect the rights of the not-so-innocent. Trust me when I tell you there was nothing wrong with what the mom did.)
Geez! What a bitch that mother must be. I mean, to go out of her way like that to be a bad parent? It’s just awful. I bet she wakes up every day and thinks “I wonder what I can do today to really solidify my role as ‘bad mother’? God, I hope some stranger on the street sees me parenting and makes nasty judgments about me. Cause that’s what I need more of in my life!”
Comments like this make my blood boil. In fact, I had to wait a while before writing down my thoughts. I wanted to sit down right at the moment it happened and start this blog but I was afraid it would turn nasty and sound like this: OH MY FUCKING GOD YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!! OF ALL THE STUPID DOUCHBAGY THINGS I’VE EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE…
But I took some time to think about it and although I’m still bothered by the situation I no longer feel the need to swear in all caps…I’m gonna swear in regular type instead.
At first I thought the fact that this person was not a parent was what bothered me the most. I thought, who the hell are you to say what a “good parent” would do in this situation? You have absolutely no idea what it’s like to try to navigate motherhood.
But then I thought, ya know, that’s really not fair. There are plenty of childless people in the world who are AMAZING with kids and who do know, at least in part, what it’s like to try and raise a child. Teachers, nannies, coaches, etc. Just because you don’t have a child doesn’t make you completely unable to relate or offer your advice.
So what was it about this incident that made me so angry? What was sticking with me?
Then it dawned on me. The judgment. That was it.
The fact that this person, childless or not, was certain beyond any doubt that the mother was wrong. So, so wrong. Without any knowledge of the situation, without any background information on the people involved, without even knowing the people involved. The child was overreacting, the parent was coddling. That’s it. Black and white. Right and wrong.
And we all do it. People are unbelievably, frighteningly quick to judge parents on the way they raise their kids. I do it. I’m guilty. But I’m trying to quit. I’m down to one pack a day…wait…that’s not the right analogy…
We all see people’s status updates about “that misbehaving kid at the park” or the mother who “didn’t even discipline her child after he threw sand” or “can you believe she lets them eat/play/watch/read that?”
I posted this type of status a few months ago about something I witnessed at the park…and someone called me on it. I realized then how much people judge without even thinking about it. I certainly didn’t mean to sound like a self-riotous son of a bitch but I did. I really did.
Shit! I’ve become the people that I blog about! Noooooo! I hate being judged (and let’s be honest I give people plenty of material) but I have no problem jumping to conclusions about others.
Let’s go back to my ferret loving friend, shall we?
Say that I did, in fact, have a ferret. I know everything there is to know about my ferret and his behavior. I know why he acts the way he acts, I know his history, I know his experiences, I know aaaaaaaallllllll about my ferret.
Then say I witnessed how my friend was raising her ferret and it’s different from how I’m choosing to care for mine. And so I’m all like “Psssssh! Girlfriend, PLEASE! That is so NOT how you take care of a ferret!”
But how do I know what the absolute right way to take care of a ferret is? I may have a ferret but I don’t have THAT ferret. And maybe THAT ferret is a little different from MY ferret. And maybe I’m a bitch for thinking my way is the only way. Who are we kidding, I’m definitely a bitch.
We all know the basics of how to care for another human being. We watch the news and we know what “bad” parents really look like. So let’s stop confusing different with bad. I’m going to make an effort. Join me. Because us parents need a break.
And if all else fails, know what I’m going to do?
Get a ferret.
(But only if it’s the glow in the dark kind.)