There is a cartoon in today's Parade magazine that has two women sitting on park benches. The young woman holds a baby and has the overflowing diaper bag and bottle next to her on the bench. The older woman points at the young mother and declares, "Excuse me, miss. Do you realize that everything you're doing with that baby is totally wrong?"
I live next to that older woman.
The other day, my ten year old neighbor girl informed me that, "Mrs. Hansen said, 'Those Sanders' children are not very good children. They are too loud, screaming all the time, and Mrs. Sanders doesn't watch them enough.' "
I have several problems with that encounter. First, that Mrs. Hansen grumbled about me to a ten year old. This particular ten year old thinks she is twenty-two. She gets highlights in her hair, has her nails done regularly, has read Twilight and knows, well, everything. I am constantly reminding her that I am an adult, that she is not, and that I do not want her telling my children everything she "knows."
Second, that she grumbled about me to someone that wasn't me. Since when is talking behind my back improving my parenting?
Third, that she was so critical. She has told me numerous times that she also had five children. She, of all people, should know how difficult it is to "watch" this brood! I, unfortunately, do not have five sets of eyes and eight sets of hands. Someone must cook and launder and sweep and I know if Mrs. Hansen came over she would be appalled at my messy house.
Now, as for the screaming and noise, yes, we do a lot of that. Children are loud and mine are louder. I do not know why, exactly, that mine are louder than everyone else's, except to say that neither my husband nor myself are quiet people. There are a lot of us crammed into a small space. Remember, dear neighbor, that we are not on public assistance. If we were, we would be in a bigger home on a bigger lot and you would be complaining about how your taxes are paying for the care of my children.
Please be patient with me and my children. We are literally doing the best we can. The children are learning how to get along with the people of the world in the safe setting of their home. I am busy being refined (not the demure kind of refined, but the through-the-forge kind of refined) and could use a kind word now and then, rather than criticism.