The other day, after a massive puddle jump in the parking lot, I led my soaking-wet kid into my Y and sheepishly explained to the young man at the desk that Snappy has always loved water and it was damn near impossible to keep her away from it. Uh. I don't know why I felt the need to explain myself to a 22 year old Y-employee. Maybe it's because we parents are used to so much constant scrutiny, judgmental comments and backhanded compliments that we end up automatically apologizing for everything that we do.
But the kid just smiled and said, "Actually, there's a law here in San Francisco that you can't stop a child from jumping in a puddle."
"Cool! So next time someone tells me that I'm an idiot for letting her get soaking wet in the middle of winter, I can threaten to call the cops?" I replied joyously. (It's not often that parents are told that they've done something right, so we tend to celebrate those moments a bit excessively. )
Back at home, a quick Google search proved that he was right. I found that particular strange law listed on a website called, aptly enough, Strange Laws, and while all the laws listed there were, in fact, strange, many of them make a strange kind of sense. For example: it's against the law in Massachusetts to put tomatoes in clam chowder. Well, duh! Massachusetts is no place for Manhattan clam chowder. In San Francisco it is illegal to pick up confetti on the ground and throw it back in the air. Yeah, that's just unsanitary. In Iowa, kisses may not last longer than five minutes. Good! After five minutes of making out, it's time to move on to something else--or take a cold shower. In Memphis, a woman may only drive a car if a man walks in front of her to warn other pedestrians and drivers. Brilliant! What better place for a male chauvinist pig than in front of the car of the very woman he is denigrating?
I've got an idea for a law that seems strange, but actually makes a lot of sense. It should be illegal to be self-righteous about your parenting skills. I would recommend a light punishment of course. I mean we all do it. We all say things like: "I would never do that!" Or the more obnoxious: "I'm glad we don't do that in our house." If they started hauling us all away, the prisons would be jammed!
I got this idea from a Babble blog called "In Our House There's No Santa Claus" by Krista Pfeiffer that was causing quite a bit of controversy for adding"lying" to your kid about Santa Claus to the latest in a long list of Parental No-Nos. Whatever. If you want to tell your kid that magical fairies fly out of their butt to deliver their waste to a poop-eating dragon that lives in the potty, that's your decision. If you want to read your toddler Grey's Anatomy every night, that's up to you. But Pfeiffer actually admitted to feeling self-righteous because she didn't use an Elf on the Shelf to control her kids at Christmas time.
I'm not saying she should be hauled off or that guys should be sent to her house, but she should get a hefty fine: 300 dollars or so. Self-righteousness does not belong in parenting! You know where it does belong? Olympic sports. Arm wrestling tournaments. How can you possibly be self-righteous about a job that has not been done yet? Unless you raised a president, what makes you think you have all the answers? Even if you did: shut up! George Washington's mom probably gave him hourly beatings and treated all his boo-boos with leeches, so who in the heck does she think she is? Until your children are grown (and not murderers), you should not be allowed to judge anyone.
Hmm. I think we might have to make an addendum that grandparents are not allowed to be self-righteous with the advice they give to their kids--no matter how well they turned out. Face it, Grandma, it's all the dumb mistakes you made that have led to your children doing stupid things like ruining Christmas for their kids by telling them there is no such thing as Santa Claus.
Oops. Good thing it's not a law. I'd be out 300 bucks.