Saturday, August 30, 2008


Yesterday, while we were at the park on the swings, a grandmother and her granddaughter arrived to play. As often happens, the grandmother, while chatting away, asked me if the bubster was our only child. Weighing up my mood and the likelihood of seeing this person regularly (I've seen her before), I politely chose this answer, "He's our only living child. He has a brother and two sisters who died." Abrupt perhaps, but it's our life.

She said, "Oh, dear." And then with only a beat between, states, "He must be very mollycoddled then", her tone suggested distinct disapproval of this particular parental practice.

What the hell is mollycoddled? Whew, sounds negative. I decided to look it up:
mol·ly·cod·dle mol·ly·cod·dled, mol·ly·cod·dling, mol·ly·cod·dles
To be overprotective and indulgent toward.
A person, especially a man or a boy, who is pampered and overprotected.

Yep. Negative.
Edited to add: I hadn't realized it was directed so pointedly at boys.

Lets see....Overprotective. I don't let him run out in the street. He has to hold my hand when we are in parking lots. I want to be able to see him in playgrounds. He rarely has a babysitter. He does not ride in cars with other people. I try to not expect more from him than his age would allow. He is only 3 1/2. To me, this seems sensible, not overprotective.

Next. Indulgent. Hmm. He doesn't have a whole house full of toys. We are however very particular about what toys he does have and some of them would be considered expensive (i.e., indulgent?). We have chosen the best school for him (in our minds), which others may see as an expensive indulgence. In parenting, we try not to be punitive but it has happened when patience has run low. Some may consider listening to a child indulgent if they think children should be 'seen and not heard'. So I guess that one is a possibility. But is it all bad?

Next. Pampered. Hugs and kisses? Yep, lots and lots. Allowed to cry. Most definitely. Required to 'stand up and take it like a man'. Never. Corporal punishment? Not if I can help it. Expectations of being cordial to people? Yes.

So. What was my response to "He must be very mollycoddled then." I thought for a moment and simply said, "He lives a realistic life." There isn't much that can be denied about that.

I'm not even exactly sure what "a realistic life" means but it seemed the right response. I hate when a person states something negative in relation to the bubster's life, especially while he is sitting there listening. So I don't honour the negativity by engaging in it in front of him. It's my little existential exercise. I exist, therefore I am.


Reese said...

Screw her....she doesn't know all you have been through.

Karin said...

Thanks Reese. If I could use that little googly-eyed emoticon from MISS here I would. That is how I looked when she said it!

Whew, smalltalk with people can just be so......well, you know. (insert google-eyed guy)

Cathy {tinniegirl} said...

It's amazing how people just feel that it's ok to say anything they feel like to perfect strangers. I never understand that.

I love your expression. Living a "realistic" life. I think you have something very zen there.

kate said...

I think your response to her was just perfect.

Steph said...

Oh Karin.. :( Honestly, how can people be so bitter and cruel? I don't understand how those could be the first words out of her mouth. :( I'm so sorry.

Lissy said...

What a gracious, thoughtful answer. I think of that movie "You've Got Mail" where the female character wishes she could come out with some ZINGERS when people say ridiculous things to her...but they never come at the time...
Perhaps she could have added "I'm so sorry" to the "Oh dear" & it would have been an entirely different Blog...
I wish I had the EYE ROLLING EMOTICON for these moments!!

Lexi:: PottyMouthMama said...

Your response was perfect. She has no idea what you have been through. Hmm, some park conversations leave a lot to be desired I think. Good for you.

Juddie said...

Some people have absolutely no idea. I think such comments often reveal a lot more about the person who says them than the literal words.

Why on earth would we want to be anything other than happy with our lives? Sounds as though you are :-)

Juddie said...

ooops - my comment above is a little ambiguous.... I meant to say that it sounds as though you're happy, and that's just the way it should be!

Karin said...

Thanks everyone. :-)

And Juddie, yep, happiness is very important to me. (must be why I don't have a job. LOL!!!)

Especially for the bubster. The only thing I really want is to be able to enjoy him! :-)

Maureen Reynolds said...

Juddie said my thought...What a shame to be that woman... bitter in her old age. So so sad. I don't know what got her to that state, but I don't want to go there matter what.

Mollycoddled? How about precious? And what a good response.

AnnaBelle said...

Found your blog through gitw.

I think your response about him living a realistic life is perfect.

I have never heard of "mollycoddled" either. What an odd thing to say after hearing that someone has lost children.