Tell Me More, Stranger!

Monday, September 08, 2014

Few activities offer their participants more "opportunities" to receive unwanted (and often presumptuous) advice from complete strangers than parenting. Anyone who, like me, has been on the receiving end of such -- erm -- counsel will find that a writer at McSweeney's has perfectly captured what we're too kind/busy/sleep-deprived/frightened/wise to say in response. The passage below, in particular, reminded me of my "favorite" such incident:

Oh nice lady, you are probably right! I should definitely cover his face always so he doesn't get sun on it. If he is exposed to the sun for even one moment, even as I am simply walking from the mechanic to a coffee shop where I have to unexpectedly stop to feed him because my car broke down, he will probably immediately get sun disease or burst into flames.
My parallel occurred last winter, when I had to go to a bank a day or so after a snow storm. I parked my car across the street and opened the door to get my then six-month-old son out, only to discover to my annoyance that I'd left his jacket at home. Since it was forty degrees out and the bank was a very short walk across the street, I decided to go anyway.

I didn't even make it to the crosswalk before a car arrived from around a corner and stopped.

"That's child abuse!" someone bellowed at me from her position of omniscience in the newly-arrived car. This person, who looked like someone I wouldn't have wanted even in the same room with my son, glowered at me for a moment through her window. After I pretended not to hear her, she drove on, to my great relief and somewhat to my surprise.

To this day, I wonder what that fool would do if airdropped into Scandanavia some winter, where children are routinely left to nap outside in subfreezing temperatures.

-- CAV


: Corrected hyperlink to McSweeney's article.


Anonymous said...

Gus Van Horn "wonder[s] what that fool would do if airdropped into Scandanavia some winter..."

Hopefully have her mouth frozen shut???

c andrew

Gus Van Horn said...


Since it's probably a mouth-breather we're talking about, the moisture might make it happen.