Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lord, save us from Busybodies

Here’s a little story for you.

When Younger Daughter was a baby of five months old, a sparkling bright October day led us into town to a large grocery store. I snuggled Younger Daughter (attired in nothing but a diaper) into my trusty sling, draped a jacket across both of us, and we skipped across the parking lot toward the store. We were both in a good mood, laughing and giggling at the snappy air and pretty sunshine.

That is, until I stepped into the store. Immediately I was accosted by an outraged woman. “How dare you take that baby out naked in this weather!” she snarled.

Taken aback, I looked at Younger Daughter. Her eyes were bright, the cotton sling was tucked over her bare shoulders, she was warm against her mommy’s body, and she was laughing out loud. “She’s perfectly warm,” I assured the woman. “She’s laughing and happy. See?”

Not satisfied, the woman proceeded to absolutely lambaste me for my poor mothering skills, for my unthinking cruelty to take a baby out unclothed on such a cold day (it was 60F degrees), and quite literally threatened to call Child Protective Services over the neglect and abuse of my poor helpless baby.

I shook my head, my good mood gone, and turned my back toward the woman as I walked into the store. The woman actually followed me for a few feet, spewing verbal filth at the unpardonable sin of not dressing my baby in a down parka for the polar expedition of walking fifty feet across a parking lot in October.

She finally left me alone. I did my shopping, but before I stepped foot outside the store I confess I looked carefully around the parking lot to see if the harridan was lurking in a corner, waiting to take my license plate number and report me to the police.

That woman, I later realized, was a BUSYBODY. It was an unpleasant experience and left me shaken.

Today my neighbor Enola Gay also experienced another BUSYBODY. You can read about it here.


  1. OK, this has absolutely nothing to do with busybodies, but I didn't know where else to post it. Saturday night my family discovered Tim Hawkins Comedy (www.timhawkins.net) Depending on your preferences not all of the videos may be suited for everyone, but the one you should try out is called “The Government Can”. It would be absolutely hilarious if it wasn’t so close to the truth.

  2. She sounds mentally unbalanced to me.

  3. Centuries ago, when I had only 2 children, my family went camping near the Arkansas river high in the Rockies. #2 son was just under two yrs old, and quite the adventurous and wild little Terrible Two-er. He had a major love of water, or anything vaguely wet.
    I also had a little dog who I'd learned would stay pretty close to camp, so being within half a block of the spring run-off insanely smashing river, I turned the dog loose and tied little Michael with the long dog lead to the back of his britches.
    Michael HATED it. He screamed. He wrestled. He screamed. He yanked. He screamed. He even tried to chew his way to freedom!
    A woman and her husband, hiking by on the path, apparently wandered by to see what all the hysteria was about, and immediately took me to task. How cruel I was! How wrong this was! How tortured this tiny child was! They hurried away, aghast at how some people treated their children.
    Michael calmed down, realizing his Mama really wasn't going to let him loose so he could go jump in that raging river. When the Ranger drove up, the little guy was happily sitting on a quilt playing with a big pile of pine cones. The dog was napping under a tree.
    the Ranger was pleased to see I took such precaution with my tiny man. He said he spent too many hours each season searching for lost children, and dreaded the days he searched the river. He had told that busy body couple I was doing exactly the right thing! (except letting the dog loose. There were coyotes about that thought eating dog was a delicacy.)
    Michael is now in his 30's and will still spend every minute available in water. Teaching him to swim was the most important thing I ever did for him. He's now teaching his own little Terrible Two-er.

    1. I had a similar problem with my son when he was about two, he would try to run away and I was concerned about the traffic, so I bought him a leash that wrapped around his wrist, I no sooner than took him out of the store when he saw a dog walking on a leash, he looked at his leash and told me that he wasn't a dog. He never had to wear the leash again as he stayed close by my side and didn't try to run off when I held his hand.

  4. I had a similar experience. When my daughter was about 2 years old, I took her out of the car at the grocery store and put her down since she liked to walk. Before I grabbed her hand she began running into the parking lot. I grabbed her back, swatted her and told her not to do that because she might get run over. Some random lady i had never met in my life came over yelling at me for spanking my child because I had done irreconcilable damage or something. If this wasn't bad enough, the lady actually tried to grab my daughter by the arm and take her away from me. I lost my cool with her at that point.

  5. This must have happened in CA rather than Idaho. I just can't imagine anything like that happening in rural America. If it did then I guess a good old countrified answer would be in order. A finger poke in the chest followed by a back off lady, before I kick your ass!

  6. there are "busybodies" everywhere we go...i too have had my share of experiences with them. i have been known to just give 'em a big bright grin and wish them a good day..then move on.

  7. Chronic Do-gooder Syndrome.


  8. I have had these types of people make comments to me when my daughter was younger due to the fact that she had a monkey back pack with a leash attachments. We always held her hand and had the leash as a back up for parking lot type dart-aways that little ones are prone to make.

    You must be more lady like that I because I found that meeting those people with an exponentially louder and less than lady like verbal confrontation/ eye contact etc quelled it like a charm. They usually made a good imitation of a well scolded barking dog. Ha Ha!:)

  9. Ya know, it's funny. Mamas almost always used to tie their child's wrist to a long string or ribbon attached to their apron. They called them leading strings, and were expected. Everyone back in the "Old days" knew there were a certain number of children who didn't follow like ducklings. An insult to older kids who wouldn't take chances was "Ah, you're still tied to your mother's apron strings!"
    What I find most irritating is those people who let their children think they are allowed into adult situations. I saw a small fender-bender accident in a parking lot. As the adults got out to discuss it, one participant's 7 year old girl began berating the other driver for damaging "her" car!

  10. My experience actually happened in small town Texas. There are busy bodies every where. People seem to think they know better than the parent how to handle children.

  11. This reminded me so much of my own expierence with "busybodies". I picked up my daughter from school every day and carried my then 4 month old son with me. An old lady would watch me every day as I went by. My son would be dressed in a shirt pants and socks and it was about 65 to 70 degrees out but that just wasnt enough for this women. She came up to me on several occasions and told me he should be wrapped in a blanket and even offered to buy me one! Why is it that the busy bodies most often attack mothers with small children?

  12. Why is it that the busy bodies most often attack mothers with small children?

    It's because so many in the city are in fact stupid. Then again, they could see you as very young and assume naivety. On the other hand, they might just be south side of a north bound horse.

    The wife and constantly comment to ourselves about what we see but limit it to that unless help is requested.

  13. Just found your blog through your great article on WND. What an annoying experience. I find this kind of thing sooooo aggravating. Why do people feel entitled to this sort of behavior? It was 60 degrees! Cold? Really? This is what comes of the "It Takes A Village" mentality.

  14. *sigh* You can't fix stupid.

  15. i had an experience like that. mine was with women i worked with. i worked in a huge department store. and on a day off i took my daughter in to buy some supplies. it was cold outside but i layered my girl up i had... not sure...maybe 4 or 5 long sleeved shirts on and a few pair of pants. she wasn't cold. on my way in the store a couple of fellow workers( busybodies)said i need to put a coat on that baby. i smiled and said shes got lots of layers on, she is fine. unless they see her in short sleeves and shorts in the 20-30 degree weather, they really needed to mind their own business. she was and still is my world i am not gonna let her freeze.

  16. I had a similar experience with a cashier, my rule of thumb was to warn the child twice while stopping the bad behavior and then on the third infraction they got a swat, my son was trying to stand up in the grocery cart and we had been through the two warnings when he decided to push his luck one last time in the checkout line, I quietly explained to him that he had been warned and then dispensed the swat. The cashier told me that that was abusive and that I could get in trouble for that. I calmly explained to her that it was much better then letting him fall out of the cart onto the floor. She actually apologized to me and told me that she hadn't thought about that.

  17. My daughter had taken a tragic fall of 7.5 ft. at 3 yrs. A hand rail gave way, & I was right behind her when this happened. This left her face to the point her eyes were swollen shut and face awful blk,blue,green,purple..It was horrifying. But she was out of the hospital the next day. With the help & protection of what ever power above. Anyhow, doctor said to get her back out & around people so she didn't get withdrawn & scared to walk or go around steps. I did just that. Holy dirty looks, security calling, police calling people.. They never bothered to ask me what was wrong or what happened. They just called & it did more damage to Jess then the fall. She thought momma was going to jail. It was awful...My baby was telling me she was sorry for getting hurt & that she wanted to go hide, so I didn't get in trouble. The police & others that were called just blurted out questions in front of Jess, it was awful for her. It took me weeks to get this already shy baby girl, to go back out in public for any period of time..& she didn't like or trust anyone in a police uniform. The very people I would tell her to go too, if she ever got separated from mom & Dad or needed to call 911. It was heartbreaking. People do not realize the damage they do...with there self-righteous busy body BS. She still remembers some of what went on to this day. She is now a wonderful healthy 25 year old business executive.