Confession… I don’t handle unsolicited advice very well…. especially when it comes from complete strangers who know nothing about me or my kids.
We are staying in Saint Simons this week with my parents. We are in a very nice condo on the beach. There are two windows in the living room that are deep set with a wide ledge… a perfect sitting place for a 5, 4 or 18 month old. The kids had fun all morning playing in their new found “houses.” My parents watched the whole thing without complaint. I was close by, always aware of what was going on. At one point, I glanced at the balcony next door… I was met by a very comdemning glance from the lady standing there…. I didn’t think much of it until we later ran into each other in the breezeway. She immediately… and I mean immediately (no introductions, no how do you dos) started telling me how dangerous it was to let my children play by the windows. She informed me that the condos were built a long time ago (um… actually it was like 12 years ago… and my parents were some of the first owners) and that the windows could give at any moment. She let me know that it was really unsafe for me to let the children do such a thing.
I mustered up all the grace within me, smiled and let her know that I appreciated her concern. I turned and walked away before she could say anything else. I don’t know… maybe she had a bad experience with windows when she was little… maybe she, or someone close to her fell through a window and she feels the need to protect the world from such hardship. I could try to cut her some slack… but seriously… I don’t handle unsolicited advice well.
I don’t handle nosy people at Target telling Abigail to sit down in the cart when I am clearly taking care of the situation. I do not appreciate people at the library saying “shh” to Selah, who is one and quietly playing in the children’s area. I do not take well to people at the Y who inform me that the parking lot is a dangerous place and I really need to watch my kids when I clearly am supervising them climbing into the car. And… the one that, for some reason, makes my blood boil… the comment that has nearly set me over the edge many a time… I do not find any humor or appreciation when people say to me, “You sure do have your hands full.” Seriously… what do people mean by that comment? And why the heck to so many people feel the need to say it?!?
I know I don’t get it right all the time. I know I lose my patience. My children break pickle jars in Publix. My children fall off their bikes and get skinned up knees. They climb on furniture when they shouldn’t and jump on beds when they’ve been told not to. They lean back in chairs and climb on rails. They are rowdy and rambunctious. BUT… they are kind and compassionate. They love the Lord. They respond to discipline (most days). AND… they are children for goodness sake! We have to say “no” to so many things during the day. When I can say “yes,” I do.
In closing… to the people who feel the need to assert themselves where it is not welcome… I love my children more than you ever will. Thank you for your concern. But please… learn some tact. I’ll try to do my part too.. and work on my gracious responses.