We’ve all had moments in parenting that have left us scowling, sweating, and questioning ourselves. Most of us, however, don’t do it with a pack of paparazzi following us. Because we’re not Charlize Theron.
However, Charlize Theron got the judgmental treatment from OK! Magazine, who referred to her as a “Monster Mom!” for allegedly “dragging” her 4 yr old son in a parking lot.
And every mother who read the story raised their fists in solidarity with Charlize.
Because obviously we’re all monsters too. Or, perhaps, the “reporter” behind the story is a childless recluse who has never interacted with a member of the preschool population. And whose mother is either dead, or calling them up going “Let me tell you what YOU were like at four!”
Seriously though, the “story” is stupid for so many reasons, but mainly because giving Mom or Dad a hard time in a parking lot when getting in or out of a car (usually in) is Preschool 101 stuff. Any one who has wrangled a preschooler has, at some point, hefted that child under their arm while said beloved little one screamed like a banshee set on fire. Possibly while they were saying “You’re not my mommy anymore!” Because that’s how they work, four year olds. They have meltdowns due to being overtired, over-stimulated, hungry, wet, cold, hot, wearing uncomfortable socks, being denied that thing they never knew they wanted so much until they finally saw it in the store.
And Mom mutters something about “I went to college for this?” while trying not to get kicked.
(Pro-tip – always hold the screaming child facing out – they are less likely to land a kick that way.)
Anyone who’s parented has also had that moment where someone just had to point out how awful they are at said parenting job. Mine was when my oldest as 3 1/2. We went to have a key made at Wal-mart. We had to pass the toy aisle. I said “We’re not going to look at toys right now.” Because I am a horrible person. My child proceeded to sprawl in the main aisle in silent protest. I gave him a choice (get up or ride in the cart). He didn’t like his choices. I scooped him up and put him in the cart. He decided to protest vocally. I decided that the entire store didn’t have to listen to my son, so took him outside, sat him on the trunk of the car, and calmly told him he was now in a time out, and could get down once he stopped screaming at me.
I was quite proud of myself, because I remained calm, wasn’t experiencing an ounce of anger at all – “I got this.” I thought.
The woman watching us didn’t think I had it. “Do you need help?” she called out from across the aisle, by her own white SUV.
I smiled. “No thank you, we’re fine.” I said.
She slowly put her cart in the corral. Then slowly made her way back to her SUV. All the time watching us.
Now, in watching us, she should have seen Collin calm down rather quickly, me asking if he was done, him saying yes, me hugging him, him getting in the cart, and us going back into the store calm and content and still liking each other.
Or, you know, she decided I was a monster. Because when I got out of the store with my happy kids and a newly made key, there was a note on my car.
“Children should be loved and cherished, not yelled at and humiliated.”
DID SHE JUST CALL ME A BAD MOTHER?
Wait a minute – I never yelled at my child. He was yelling at me! WTH? There was no humiliation. No name calling. No verbal abuse. I actually did what child experts said I should do! I removed the child from the situation, gave him time to calm himself, hugged it out.
But I was a monster to this woman. I scarred her enough that she left a nastygram under my windshield wiper.
I’ve been judged, I’ll probably be judged again, I’ve been there, done that, rinse and repeat. Anyone who parents has been there. We’ve all had our child do the crocodile death roll on us in public, the screaming hissyfit in the toy aisle, those moments where they try darting into traffic and you grab them and yell “Don’t do that, it’s not safe!”, and my personal favorite, the times when you’re holding onto your child safely, only for them to go boneless as you’re walking, so you do actually drag them for a step or two before being able to stop. Because they never give you warning before going boneless. Never.
Needless to say, I have reached the stage of zero f*cks given when I’m out in public with my kids. Granted, they’re now almost grown, but because of Maura, I still get to grab her arm before she runs into traffic, or have to sit down in the middle of the craft store while she’s screaming and kicking her shoes off because she doesn’t understand why she can’t just have the whole bolt of My Little Pony fabric which I get. I would like to buy all the fabric too. I’ve just learned not to kick and scream over it. Externally.
Now, I see another mother with a screaming preschooler, lugging them out, and rush to get the door and let her know she’s not alone. Because what always made me feel better as I stood there with a screaming kid was another mother walking by saying “My kid did this to me yesterday, you’re doing fine.”
So Charlize, I feel ya. I’ve had to scrape crying kids off the blacktop too. You’re doing fine.