I really do miss judging other people's children, little ones I mean. Having two young ones myself, obviously I have to be kind and understanding and nod ruefully at the lamentations of various parents about their child's behaviour. There's absolutely no place for judging, no way. Not even when they're shouting in the supermarket (Because Of Additives), or being bribed in the trolley (Filling Them With Additives), or moaning incessantly about wanting something in a shop (Because They're Spoiled) or throwing one helluva tantrum about going to school (Lack Of Discipline In The Home). You see?I have all these brilliant judgements and no one to pour them on. This is because, as you may well have guessed due to the lack of Parenting Pride themed posts on this blog, it's normally my kids doing all of the above, I am not even able to delete any as appropriate.
But because my kids refuse resolutely to grow up faster than the average child (despite what it said on the tin), I'm stuck with two young ones, and therefore doomed to be Understanding about everyone elses. Especially ones showing behaviour learnt from my two.
Before children I used to have a good old judge of other people's children (and by default their parenting skills) at least once a day. Ahhh, it was a beautiful time of ego boosting as I watched behaviour that my future offspring would never be allowed to get away with. Oh yes, you see I knew all about bringing up children, why, I read the Guardian family section every week, I knew all about the pitfalls of parenting, from psychological damage to paying out too much pocket money. Oh yes, I had it all planned out, including the type of labour they would be expected to do to earn the perfect amount of pocket money for their age.
The only light relief I get nowadays is watching the faces of first-time-pregnant mums when we're out and about. Ok, they're still in a place where they may be able to convince themselves that their child experience will be different (because it just will, ok?); they may even be a little smug, still a little judgemental, but in a slightly wary and rabbit caught in headlights way. Oh yes. Because you see they have yet to have their child, their child that may possibly behave in the manner that my child is demonstrating so exquisitely right this minute. They are well aware that Life May Be About To Change. Thus they are extra careful with their accusing glances and even attempt a child-bonding proffering of sweets or hair ruffle in an attempt to say 'ah, it'll be my turn soon ha ha ha ha.'
Of course they don't believe this, in their (hormone flooded) heads, their children will be awash with rice cakes and good feeling. They will bring colouring books and sparkly stickers to the supermarket with which to entertain their children in a healthy and absorbing manner. They will even, when pushed, agree to an Organix Everything Free biscuit, but only in emergencies.
It is opposite these new-pregnant-mummies that I display my children to the fullest. A peacock if you will, to the pea hen's lair. They daren't complain, they're too busy watching me smirk at their bump and daring them to criticise. I even pull my best parenting stunts in front of them, just to give them some tools for later when their little treasures are burying Bob The Builder in the freezer section. I am adept, you see, at the yanking-one-arm-harsh-whisper-in-the-ear-and chocolate-shoved-in-mouth manoeuvre; regard with Wonder and Approval my removal-of-child's-shoes-to-prevent-running-away display (I made that one up myself); gasp at my mastery of the double-child-hair-pull-with-a-back-twist, I even land with both feet together and a flourish of the arms, sometimes to applause - I know, I'd be wishing I was me too.
Obviously, I can give my judgemental streak a good old scratch now and then at teenagers, but it's just not the same is it? Once you've given birth and screamed for the epidural you swore you'd never want, and failed resolutely to Ohmn the baby out in a restful lotus position, you realise with a vomit laden thud that you're doomed to Be Like Every Other Parent. You are not the special, Guardian Family Section educated, Zen like mother you always thought you'd be. And ergo you may not judge.
Bit of a shock that was.