I’m completely humbled to have today’s guest write here today.
My friend Galit from These Little Waves is a magical writer, a joyful spirit, a supportive blogger. She may be sick of me commenting on her posts by writing, “That was <<<insert superlative here>>>.” She treats every subject she writes about with such care and meaning, and I know that if you don’t read her already, you will enjoy her.
Galit takes her delicate touch to a sensitive subject today: judging other parents. Galit thinks there is a grace to be found in doing it – and teaching our kids how to do it. I’ve been thinking about this post in the several days since she sent it to me. I’m anxious to hear your thoughts on this lovely post.
My family is a puzzle.
Two whose fingers are laced at my sides, two whose sneakered feet I’m following.
We thread through the relentless crowd, the thick air, the drum beating around the corner, the unmistakable scent of fried food filling every inch between sand tinged gravel to midday sun.
We’re at the State Fair, where Sweet Martha cookies, the saltiest of french fries, and the tallest of slides reign gold.
Between fun and laughter and once-a-year-treats, I people watch.
From behind my sunglasses, I note a white-blond teen.
Her loosened ponytail grazes bare shoulders, her voice is loud, tinny.
She runs between the shape we’ve become so accustomed to, we part to make way.
With muscular, tanned arms she catches a blond, curly haired two-year-old. One moment he’s toddling on bare feet, the next his diapered bottom is scooped into fluorescent-tipped nails.
“Don’t run away!” She edges, their matching noses touching.
They move to the side. We stop, too.
A tall man with earrings and tattoos and a ribbed white tank top wraps one arm around them.
He hands her an overflowing cup of 1919 root beer (truly the best) in one breath, kisses the top of his white blond curls in the next.
She wraps manicured fingers around the glistening cup, takes a long draw, then tips it towards the toddler in her arms.
He sips slowly, licks pursed lips, raises pudgy cheeks, and reaches for more. They laugh together as three, within their own shape that they’re so accustomed to.
My eyes meet Jason’s, we share a Look. Ten years of marriage and teaching and parenting have made these kinds of Looks, a habit.
They walk away, barefoot toddler between them. His pudgy fingers are wrapped around each of their fingers, cigarettes dangle in each of their other, unlaced hands.
From the edge of my heart, I glimpse Kayli’s impossibly brown eyes flicking between this family, and Jason’s and my Look.
Oh, judgement. It’s always there, isn’t it?
We maneuver our own Knowing with others’, making sense of Us and Them, within single heartbeats.
We’re wired to do this.
This kind of “judging,” the split second like me or not like me and I would or I wouldn’t, is okay. It really is.
The struggle is finding the grace of “judging,” without seeing ourselves as better.
And that, needs to be taught.
Later that night, we sit together on the big bed. Her damp, just washed hair is cool against my arm, our legs crossed in front of us.
We talk about the cheese curds and the baby lambs and the midnight blue suited woman on stilts.
I hedge between leaving this golden moment be, kissing the top of her head, and sending her off to bed with only our own Knowing in mind.
But I don’t.
Because there’s value in discussing the hard, to help maneuver towards good.
“Do you remember the family we saw?” I ask.
She nods, her eyes are open when they meet mine, chocolate to hazel.
So I try to fill in that Open with my heart in the only way I know how. “I think smoking’s bad, worse around kids.” I say.
“And no soda for babies, right?” She jumps on board. (How easily that happens.)
“True. For us.” I say.
Her eyes widen, I push further. “We don’t know their story, it’s none of our business.”
She stays quiet.
“He was cute.” She finally says. “They were happy.”
And this feels like a sweet spot to land, so I do, we do, together.
Galit Breen is a Minnesotan mama, author, and blogger. On any given day you can find her juggling three children, one puggle, one husband, and her laptop. You can find Galit at her blog, twitter, and facebook.