Dear Strangers: We Are Open To Kindness (and free cookies)!

Scary Mommy … THIS actually happens?  Like, for real?  There are people in the world who actually CARE that there is a child crying, as in not merely annoyed, but care enough to help the kid?  To offer the kid a cookie?  I’ve been spouting off for years now about how kids are treated like crap and then you write that?!?!

Old Guy Gives Crying Toddler Cookie

That’s what headlines in my dreams are made of!  It’s beautiful!

First of I gotta know where the heck you live?  Where are these kind and generous people?  If you don’t want this in your life, come to my town.  We don’t have that anywhere!

Second, for the love of God don’t ask them NOT to give the cookie.   No abdication of parenting authority necessary. Spock or Brazleton or some child “expert” surely once said that choices are good for kids?  Besides, toddlers share … their cookie is pretty much your cookie … get where I’m going?  Your cookie?  Get it?

And we (I) just can’t let go the health factor.  I know the PR firm for the bagel wants us all to think of them as a healthy option, BUT a bagel lathered with cream cheese is probably actually worse for you than a cookie, or at the very least, they are both equally bad for you.  A bagel has zero health benefits.  Zero.  So, the cookie could have happened … you know, before the meltdown.

But maybe you already foresaw the chocolate cookie mess?  Let me say that I’m so impressed by these moms.  I’m so busy making sure I haven’t left anyone behind and keeping my kids quiet for all their excitement at actually being at a bagel shop, donut shop or a food shop in general, that I just want them to pick something FAST so we can get the hell out of there.

Lot of pressure at these places for my kids to behave. All eyes are on us everywhere we go.  People actually count.  People always ask, “Are they all yours?”  Cracks me up every time.  Every. Time.  I don’t mind the stares or the questions, in fact, when I see a large family, I gawk too.  I wonder if they are all theirs and the biggie, if they are going to have more.  I know better than to ask that last question though because of all the blogs I’ve read by big families who despise ALL questions, but particularly that last one.  They think it’s equivalent to asking about their sex life.  Whatever.

I’m with you on the cookie ban too, but for vastly different reasons.  Cookies flat-out are not in any of my kids futures. Not cuz I am a strict mom, not cuz I am a food nazi (although I am a food nazi) and not because I believe they must earn that cookie.  Cookies are not in my kids future because I’m trying to lose 12 baby weights and I’m damn determined to be successful before I explode.  We are at a critical mass, people.  If only I had a dietitian and a trainer and someone to punch my mouth every time I put anything with calories near my face.  If only …

Anyway, my kids are getting NO cookies until I get a cookie.

Where were we?   We were talking about chocolate.  And mess.  If you were taking your kids to another location apres bagels, then this could be a consideration.  Of course, I wouldn’t think about that until after the fact and then I’d be faced with going out with a super dirty looking toddler, a half-naked toddler, or running by Target for a new shirt.  In fact, it’s this conundrum that caused me to dream up disposable clothing.  NOT at all environmentally friendly, but so mom friendly I could cry.  And sometimes you have to go with sanity over the environment.  You know, it’s why we have disposable wipes and diapers … I’m a cloth diapering momma, don’t have a cow, but I have a stash of disposables I use on occasion.  I also have paper plates and plastic forks and spoons, for the occasional {enter reason here}.

So disposable clothes?  I’m onto something, right?

Someone out there in the world is thinking “bib”.  Like it’s a duh moment.  But I’ve had 12 kids and not one has ever willingly put a bib on and when I’ve channelled ninja skills and actually managed to sneak it on them … it lasts like 3 minutes tops.  No-one’s got time for the 15 minutes of distraction antics for a 3 minute ROI.  So there’s that.

But, Scary Mommy, I get what you are saying when you write that when you say no, you mean no.  You see when I say NO, I mean NO too.   As in hell has to freeze over or kid you better have a burning bush.  When I say no, man, I mean NO!

Until I change my mind.

Dan’s no means no.  They believe him too, you can see it in their faces.  And I know what they are thinking, they are totally thinking, “I should have asked mommy.”

But when I say no, they smile.  They get super cute and ridiculously helpful and kind, ohmygosh so kind and sweet. They clean up.  They make me tea.  Even bake me cookies.  Who in their right mind would discourage that?

Of course, not the toddlers.  The toddlers aren’t smart enough yet.  And even if they were, they neither have the baking skills nor the cleaning skills to make their efforts worthwhile.  But, the toddlers are adorable.  They have that going for them.  They are so stinking cute.

So, hear me out here for one minute, SM.  When I beg you not to tell strangers to not be kind for no reason other than pure goodness, I am asking because it’s this goodness that actually makes our society work.  It’s people acting from the heart without deep thinking their actions.  This kind of goodness never makes the news.  This doesn’t sell.

Giving people permission to simply act on impulse from the heart touches our kids souls.

I’ll go on record saying that once in a blue moon, having a stranger swoop in and treat your toddler with such random kindness is not going to turn them into monsters.  In fact, it will have the opposite effect.  Being on the receiving end of empathy builds trust, connects us to people, and so much more.

A stranger offering kindness is much different than a parent caving, and trust me, kids know the difference!!  Just like they know they can get away with murder (not really) at grandma’s but they better never try that crap at home, they know the difference between throwing a tantrum and mommy giving in and a stranger being kind.

The kindness of strangers is something we, my family and I, are going to the end of the continent to find.  We cherish these acts. There’s ample time to teach children boundaries, but there is never enough kindness or goodness in this world.

We are open for kindness.  Come on in!


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  • Absolutely. Geez. It’s a cookie. And why not get to the bagel place and be all, what do you want? Bagel=Cookie. All wonderbread crap, no difference. Love your perspective. Tiring of the serious parents who regulate every second of the kids life. Relax. Have fun, though I know she does because I read her blog. But she somehow got lost on this one.

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