While this is most humorous, this is not quite what i mean. It's kind of difficult to explain, because it's so subtle, but I'll try, with a few examples. There is this subtle line that parents cross to when you just know (or at least I think I do) they are no longer really talking to their child, but to those around them. And while it amuses me, it makes me feel a bit sad, feeling like they're using their child as a prop. It's an easy thing to slip to, and i guess we could all be guilty of it at one point or another. I guess. Here's an example:
Sean and Julian and I were at the pool a week or so ago. It was lunchtime so we wrapped our towels around us and gathered to the eating area and sat at a table for some food. While there, a mom holding her kid walked by the table and there was a quiet mumbling but this went largely unnoticed, as i was focused on the eating. It then became clear they were trying to get our attention so I turned and apologized and the mom had the kid (who was 2-3) say again, "could we share your table?" I responded, "of COURSE!" and big smiles. Meanwhile on the inside, i was frowning and tsking. It wasn't a big deal, but it was a little weird. They were just standing there awkwardly waiting for me to hear their son's tiny sweet voice, making him break the weird ice that didn't even need to be broken. Don't make your kid talk for you.
But this isn't really what i'm referring to either. I feel like there were several moments but i wasn't paying much attention, but at one point while we were sitting and eating, i kept hearing the mom say loudly to her son, "Who taught you to not put your elbows on the table? Who?" Not in a reprimand, but a "please son, make us proud." This was repeated maybe 4 times. And loudly. Your kid's in your lap. How loud do you need to be? And sure, often we are really just in our own little world, trying to talk to our kid, get his/her attention, resolve an issue, deal with tantrums. But after the 4th time, I was skeptical of that. While at first i was sitting like this:
By the 4th time, I had slumped even more resolutely:
I wasn't at all sure if her comment was aimed at me. It seems ludicrous to think that it was. perhaps she was just using my bad example as a teaching moment. Perhaps she assumed I immediately recognized her in the midst of a teaching moment and was waiting for me to play along because not only are we both members of the Mommy Club, but of the Mommies With Kids the Same Age Club. Maybe her kid really did know better manners and she wanted to show off his skills. But guess what? I just don't care. Neither does your kid. And you're really loud.
I'm trying to think of another example. I'm not sure this fits my description, but again, maybe there are different kinds. A while ago Julian and I went to the children's museum. We were sitting at the sand, playing with trucks. Click here for a visual. I was on a stool, wedged in the crevice by the yellow bucket. Around me were a few kids and their parents/grandparents. One woman and her father(?) was there, along with her kid. Another mom(?) and a grandmother(?) were there with their kid. One mom asked the other "How old is he/she?" (I can't remember) They responded, "21 months." "Oh, ours too! When's his/her birthday?" "Halloween! when's yours'?" "September ___. So.. uhh.. I can't remember if it's 20 or 21 months." (me: ?) This went on back and forth for at least 5 more rounds, about their kids' age and birthdays and it just got so inane--i couldn't help myself-- i actually looked up at them with this expression on my face:
I know this makes me seem like a jerk, but C'MON. Stop the madness! This is probably not so much Performance Parenting but Caught in the Trap of Kiddie Small Talk, the kind that makes my brain slightly effervesce and then wither. Nobody noticed me anyway. They were too busy talking about 20 or 21 months. I wish i could remember the exact conversation because it seriously was ridiculoso, even for Kiddie Small Talk standards. But also, i'm glad i don't.
I wish I had more examples. But you know what i mean, right?? Have you had any experiences? It's just so interesting to me. Oh the phenomena around me.