A Parenting Curiosity.

By: Jen Shoop

I had an odd interaction with a fellow parent the other day .

His adorable and precocious two-and-a-half-year-old daughter was trying to talk to mini — asking her the same question over and over — and mini was behaving, well, like a nine month old: batting her hand at the girl’s face and babbling incoherently.  The little girl was clearly frustrated by mini’s [lack of] response and pushed her face closer to mini’s, stating, angrily: “she not listening!”

“She’s too little to understand,” I apologized, before diverting the girl’s attention by asking her about the toy she was holding in her hand.

Her father, who was crouching at his daughter’s side and had been observing the interaction with rapt attention, shook his head and said: “No, she’s not too little to understand, Demeter.*  She just doesn’t have the words to express herself yet.”  He lingered over his daughter for a second and then turned and smiled at me knowingly.

What are your reactions to this?

I’m going to withhold my thoughts and see what the smart magpie set has to say about this exchange.  Because I have a lot of thoughts on it, and I still find myself texting Mr. Magpie at odd hours of the workday with follow up commentary.

Stay tuned.

*Name changed for the purposes of this story, but trust me — it was equally out there.


Post-Script: New Baby Discoveries

+This toothpaste with a corresponding gum cleanser found its way into mini’s stocking.  (This stuff also gets good reviews.)  Incidentally, this made it into Mr. Magpie’s stocking!  I guess Santa wants us to have extra clean teeth this year…AND ALSO.  When mini is old enough, I’ll get her this toddler toothbrush.  Seems like a smart design, and also kind of reminds me of the monsters in Stranger Things

+Ordered these on the good word of a magpie reader!

+I can’t wait to order mini her first pair of these — maybe for her birthday?  I’m torn on color: do I go with timeless yellow or girly-girl pink?  Speaking of boots, I’m not a huge fan of Ugg, but these are too damn cute!

+I cleaned up at the Polo baby sale, snagging her a few polos (marked down to like $10!), this sweater I’d been ogling for the better part of the season, and a few one-pieces including this and this that will be easy to layer under her Polarn Y. Pyret snowsuit (also love the print on this snowsuit!!!)

+This play set is too cute.

+If you like traditional baby clothes, snag a set or two of these before they sell out!  I had been dying for a pair for mini’s Christmas outfit, but couldn’t find them anywhere.  Seem to have been restocked in some sizes!  Also — these are amazing.  The perfect christening shoe for a baby boy.

+A friend of my mother-in-law’s gifted mini this adorable playset by Maileg, and I am OBSESSED WITH IT.  And also everything else by the brand, too.

+OMG.  Just stop.  While I’m wearing this?

+For a little boy: this backpack in the cowboy print?!  ARE YOU KIDDING ME.  So cute.  (And the matching snackpack.)  PS: This company is cool: “For every State bag purchased, State hand-delivers a backpack – packed with essential tools for success – to an American child in need; but our commitment goes beyond simply a material donation.”  Love.


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15 thoughts on “A Parenting Curiosity.

  1. COMPLETELY agree with the commenters who brought up the ‘mansplaining’ angle. That was my first thought when I read your anecdote … so annoying! And so uncalled for, imho.

    ‘Demeter’ made me laugh and also made me v. v. curious as to the child’s real name, as the full-blown name nerd that I am!

    P.S. We are a Marvis toothpaste-loving household! Two thumbs up.

    1. Hehe, I’ve had a lot of friends ask me about the real name 🙂 And, so interesting — I really hadn’t thought about the gender dynamic when it happened!

  2. This reeks of extreme RIE parenting where they treat babies like adults and believe that they understand everything and need to ‘express emotions’ etc. Some of it is really helpful (Janet Lansbury’s website) and I agree with but when it’s extreme like this it’s barf-worthy. Also, mansplaining. Blech.

    1. Wow, interesting — hadn’t heard of RIE parenting, but I am willing to bet he subscribed to it. I can understand the logic to a degree but there was something off-putting about his “educative” tone…

  3. So…what I’ve gathered since your move to NYC is that you’re a superficial, privileged, spoiled and judgmental person whose opinions are overlayed with entitlement and misdirect your audience through a poor imitation of being “so thankful”, “so religious.” With all due respect, I sincerely hope that once you’ve lived for some time in this wonderful city you will become respectful of its residents and that you will learn to recognize deeper meanings that are beyond the surface of people and things.

  4. What?!? No comments! What was that all about! I’m dumbfounded! Who does that? Ok by you not responding to that jerk of a person for saying such a rude thing shows great constraint on your part! That’s just beyond my comprehension! I think I would have been so “gobsmacked” I couldn’t have found words either (or any nice words!). Maybe something like no jerk, she doesn’t choose to communicate with anyone like you…now take your son out of my daughter’s face and move along please….NOW!!!!
    This is another example of the people doing “their thing” with no regard to ANYONE else! So sorry it happened to you, but thank goodness you were raised better and can move on and never give it another thought!
    Love to you and your smart daughter!

    1. Haha! OK, these comments are making me feel more righteous in my reaction. I was very weirded out by it, and now I’m seeing all of these other layers to the story that I hadn’t even considered. Thanks for rallying behind us!!

  5. That is just so RUDE!! and super passive aggressive and unnecessary. If he had said something like “yep, DEMETER, she doesn’t have the words yet to communicate like you do.” that would be ok because he would be explaining further to his kid without also MANSPLAINING to you. But he chose to be a jerk.

    Plus, I disagree that your 9 month old fully comprehends and has the cognitive development to answer the older kids question, even if she had the language. That guy was just being an ASS!

    1. OK, yes, SARAH! I was actually thinking about you when I wrote this because I felt you’d have a very practical, reasoned reaction to this, and I’m glad you reacted as you did, because it furthers my sense that I had the appropriate reaction. Anyway, I completely agree — I sincerely doubt Emory understood what the girl was asking. MAYBE the girl’s tone/emotional timbre (frustration!) registered, but that’s about it. And I hated that he used his daughter to chastise me! EW!

  6. yeah you got “parent shamed” or maybe even mansplained by that dad, uncool. He could be right for all we know, but there was no reason for him to undermine you and what you said. Babies understand a lot, but they certainly don’t understand everything. You have every right to feel annoyed about his handling of the situation.

    1. Yes — so interesting that a few of you have pointed out the “mansplaining” component of this. Such an odd interaction; it was the first time I felt like my hand had been slapped in my role as a mom, which, honestly, is very fortunate…BUT. WUT.

  7. It would’ve been cute if the situation had played out like this: his daughter gets frustrated, and then he steps in and says that (before you had said anything), just because it’s a nice line and a nice way to think about it. But it’s obviously not true (your 9 month old doesn’t actually understand language yet), so correcting you after you said it is weird in general, and I especially don’t like that he corrected you in front of his daughter. It’s not only rude, but also starts teaching his daughter that a man knows better than a woman, and worse: that he knows better than you about your daughter.

    1. So interesting — I hadn’t thought about the mansplaining angle, but you’re right. Maybe that contributed to my reaction without me even knowing it! I felt myself physically shudder when he said it though — it’s like, UGH, stop using your daughter to “educate” me. BARF!

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