So, my daughter and I take the subway most mornings to school. To be honest, this is often not the highlight of our day. Most people push or don't offer a seat to a two year old. Not the finest examples of New Yorkers. This morning, we did receive a seat from a young man (a first for us). My daughter, who was dealing with a runny nose and a cough (but no fever!) asked me to read a book. I was happy to oblige. I noticed her nose was a little runny, but not on the verge of hitting her top lip. So, I continued to read. Soon after, a crumpled paper towel was placed in front of my face. A woman was concerned about my daughter's nose. Nice, but unnecessary considering the vast array of wipes I had in my bag. I took the paper towel and said thanks anyway. The funny thing is that wasn't it. She then proceeded to share with me how I was failing my daughter by not zipping her jacket. My daughter's jacket was actually zipped when we were outside. She asked for me to unzip it because she was getting hot on the platform waiting for the train. The best part was that another woman agreed with her and started to discuss the merits of warmth. I took it from there. If you've followed my blog, you know that I feel obligated to speak up. Especially when there has been some assumptions made based on appearance. I decided to tell these women a few things.
1) I am a VERY competent parent.
2) Her jacket was closed. When we were outside. And germs play more of a role in sickness than warmth.
3) I didn't ask for help, but if you wanted to help, you certainly could have sacrificed your seat.
4) I concluded by saying that it was important to not stereotype fathers. Don't assume incompetence. Don't offer unsolicited parenting advice.
I shared all of this without raising my voice or truly revealing just how frustrated I had become. So, we went back to the book. To be fair, I did speculate a bit. It seemed as if these women had comments because I was a dad. Clearly, that affords some people an opportunity to question my parenting skills. Let me make something clear. Don't. I won't question your parenting skills. You might have done right by your child. But my wife and I are the experts when it comes to our child. Not all children, but ours. Although children often endure the same developmental milestones, every child is different. Lots of factors effect how they are raised. When it comes down to it, I just wanted to read the book (Mem Fox's Whoever You Are) to my daughter without interruption. But being a responsible father was held against me, again.