Maria wanted to ride her bike tonight. I was so tired and had not eaten dinner yet but I agreed to a bike ride because (1) it’s good exercise for her and (2) it gives us some time together after a long day at school and work. Mario ended up meeting us at the park (Jon dropped him off because he was so upset that Maria and I had left without him). The two of them bee-lined straight for the spruce tree with the awesome climbing branches. Maria climbed up to nearly the top of the tree like a little monkey and Mario stared in amazement. He got up the guts to climb up a few branches.
While they sat on their branches, a group of boys ran over and shouted to each other about how cool it was that Maria and Mario were up in the tree. One little boy started to climb up the tree when I heard his mom yell “Charlie, get down from there right now!” The mom glanced over at me and shook her head in disbelief. I could hear what was going through her head “what kind of mother would let her kids climb a tree and risk them getting hurt.” When they finally had enough of the tree, we ran over to the swings. I saw a mom I knew from Mario’s preschool. She had her grapes and strawberries packaged up for her two kids. I told her I was starving, and she offered me some. I declined telling her that I thought we may hit Orange Leaf frozen yogurt for dinner in a bit. “Frozen yogurt for dinner?” she questioned, amazed. “Yep, with oreos and animal crackers – nothing better”, I responded. Again, I could hear the bells going off in her head and the desire to cart me away to bad parents’ camp.
So, when I got home tonight and found Harley Rotbart’s piece, Just Parent, No Philosophy Required, I took a deep breath and patted myself on the back. We all have different parenting styles. I am not going to shake my head at the mom who refuses to allow her kids to climb trees because maybe she had an awful experience of falling when she was little or witnessed another child have an awful experience or maybe she just gets anxious about it and doesn’t want to be sick to her stomach as they climb. Who knows why she is prohibiting it but at least she is at the park with them allowing them fresh air and swings and slides. And I am not going to poo-poo the fruit mom who refuses to put one unnatural food in her childrens’ bodies. Maybe she had a parent die from cancer or maybe she is a dietician (my mom used to be a dietician but I think I rebelled completely). I am trying so hard to not judge people – even when they may be judging me until the cows come home. Because in the end, all three of us moms tonight were there for our kids in the park – in the metaphorical bleachers cheering them on – and that is all that matters.