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It started when I got pregnant, coming at us from every angle. Old women in the supermarket, family members, friends, casual acquaintances, strangers on the street, and even Darren at the Roads & Maritime Services counter, all wanted to tell us what they knew about parenting. Even if they didn’t have kids.
Now, with a 12-month-old, the relentless onslaught of parental advice shows no signs of slowing down.
“Oh, you’ll have to do such-and-such.”
“You must get a such-and-such, it’s a life-saver.”
“I know someone who used the such-and-such technique, and they said it was super awesome.”
“Never do such-and-such. Never!”
“When we had our first child…” (This one inevitably turns into a 20 minute lecture about all the trials and tribulations of their first-born’s life to date.)
That’s great and all, but we really weren’t asking for your opinion. Also — for a variety of reasons — it’s probable your child is nothing like our child, and your experience of parenting is so far removed from ours that it’s irrelevant.
And what is it, exactly, about having a child that makes strangers think it’s okay to waltz up to you in the street and let loose with the criticism?
My husband came home from grocery shopping yesterday, visibly irritated after restraining himself from telling an old lady to bugger off and mind her own business when she stuck her head into the pram, saying the baby looked cold. The baby was fine. He was rugged up, snug-as-a-bug. (This sort of thing happens to us regularly, I had a similar encounter on the way to a Mother Goose class this morning.)
We’ve had our son for a year now, and while it’s been a steep learning curve, we’ve got a pretty good handle on the basics — including dressing him for a variety of weather conditions.
So, thank you for your unsolicited parenting advice. Now, here’s what you can do with it:
- Dig a very deep hole in your backyard. Write down all your amazing parenting advice and put it in a time capsule. Bury the time capsule in the very deep hole in your backyard and hope that someone from the future will give a shit.
- Tweet it at politicians who deny climate change.
- Tell it to a stray cat over a bowl of (lactose-free) milk.
- Get it tattooed on your inner thigh.
- Record all of your thoughts on parenting and exactly how it should be done. And I mean all of them. Don’t miss a single, minute detail. By the time you finish, you should have hundreds of hours of voice recordings that you can sell to dentists, who can use these recordings to put jittery patients to sleep.
- Exorcise it from your body by screaming it out in a primal scream class.
- Broadcast it into deep space to keep hostile aliens at bay.
- Devote the rest of your life to engraving it on a pin-head.
- Think it at a glass of water to alter the molecular structure of that water. Soak some bread in the molecularly altered water. Feed that bread to the ducks at your local park and observe any changes in how they care for their ducklings.
- Take it on a pilgrimage to Disneyland.
- And last, but certainly not least, my personal favorite: shove it up your backside.
Emily Friedel is a freelance journalist, dog lover, beekeeper, chook chaser, and is powered by saturated fat and caffeine.