Last Saturday was the Popcorn Festival in my hometown of Valparaiso, Indiana. Held each year in the hometown of the bow-tied great Orville Redenbacher, it's an event Valparaisians truly look forward to.
Lou, my mom, Raf, and I arrived at the end of the Popcorn Parade. I thought I had some perhaps not-so-fond memories of marching in said parade in high school. However, when I saw the marching bands (whether in summer shorts or heavy wool gear) I found myself getting choked up. Even the little soccer club kids and karate students were moving me to tears. I think this is still hormones from nursing. I'm hoping, at least. Maybe it's that being in your hometown as an adult brings a feeling of nostalgia and pride. Or the nursing.
Anyway, we walked around the crap, I mean craft booths, bought some lunch to support local schools and Boy Scouts, and generally perused the scene. I'm always amazed when people watching at these things. Where do some of these people come from? High school kids wearing ski caps in 80 degree weather, tee shirts with really trashy sayings, you name it.
My main focus was trying not to bake my son in the sun. We didn't bring his nice stroller because we're lazy. Well, sort of. It's heavy and takes up space in our already tight trunk. Plus, my mom has one at her house we got for 8 bucks at a thrift shop. The only problem with that idea is that the shade doesn't really protect him since he's still so small. Sure, we lathered on the sunscreen, but I still spent most of the time worrying.
We brought along this blanket that Rafael likes that's light and white. We put it on his lap to protect his legs as best we could. He enjoyed playing with it as well. He puts it in his mouth, covers his head, and shakes it up and down. Whatever. It makes him happy. As we were stopped in one booth of homemade baby clothes, a lady came over and started cooing at the baby. This is not uncommon, but I do stand there close, especially in crowds, because this Jaycee Duggan thing has gotten me a little paranoid about child abduction. Anyway, this lady coos at the baby for about 15 seconds, then grabs the white blanket off him, hands it to me fiercely and says, "He doesn't need this- it's a VERY hot day". As if I need her to regulate my temperatures for me.
Louie instantly put it right back on Rafael. He was PISSED. I quickly blurted, "He likes it-it's his security blanket- also a sun shade..." and trailed off. She walked off in a huff. I kind of couldn't believe it. I mean, people come up to me occasionally and say stuff like, "Isn't he cold/hot?" depending on the outfit, but I've yet to have a complete stranger grab something off of him. I'm not sure why they think this is okay. Of course, then I felt like a bad mom for the rest of the Festival for bringing a baby out into the sun.
This reminds me of when he was first born and I stroller walked him to Dollar General because we were out of milk. The lady behind the counter couldn't believe I had a 4 week old out (he was wrapped up, I swear) in May because of "too much air". Um...too much air? Last I checked, air was a necessity. Now too much cold/heat/Swine flu- I get that.
Last week in the grocery store (you best believe he was in the Bjorn) a really cranky elderly lady was yelling at her husband near the baby aisle. As she stormed past me, I heard her remark, "A baby in the grocery store! Harumph!" I just got out of her way and felt bad for the man. But in a way I knew it was yet another person telling me their advice on child rearing.
Later that Popcorn Fest night we attended a wedding. Perhaps, if anything makes us bad parents, it is this. He never once napped in a crib and was out and about that whole day. Believe me, we paid the price in baby meltdowns. But at the time, it seemed like a good idea. Nevertheless, the decent people sitting across from us at our assigned table struck up a conversation with us. All was well and good until the father said, "Do you mind if I give you a piece of advice?" Looking back, all I can think is, "Well, he DID ask." I of course, allowed him to share his little nugget of wisdom which was...not to let Raffi try standing on my lap (which he really likes) because it will make him bowlegged. Of course the man knew from experience. He said his oldest son was bowlegged because they let him put "too much weight" on his "little legs" too "early on". Not to mention Rafael is already a little bowlegged.
So then the rest of the night I spent trying to keep Rafael from standing in my lap, even though we were all taking turns holding him for several hours. Everytime I forgot and let the little guy stand up (which by the way, he cracks himself up in doing so) I'd see the guy across the table, feel guilty, and promptly bend Raffi back into a seated postion.
Maybe people think we're teenage parents. Maybe they think we appreciate their help. Even so, I promise you I'll never comment on other people's child rearing now that I know what it feels like- at least to their face.