"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." -Thumper (and mothers everywhere)
"Do unto others as you would have done unto you." -Pretty Much Every Religion
"Opinions are like armpits, everyone has one and most of them stink." -Someone Smart
There is a church song I learned as a child that is titled Kindness Begins With Me. Actually kindness begins with K. And, unfortunately, unkindness begins with U. But that's besides the point. The point? The point is that it's not that hard to be kind. It really isn't. I mean, sure it's also easy to be mean. (I should know. Just ask my children.) But it doesn't take TOO much extra effort to just be a little bit kind.
The thing is that everyone has opinions. And I would know. I have an opinion on almost everything. Maybe even everything. (And if you have read my blog for more than a week, or seen any of my Facebook posts, I guess you would already know that.) However, almost all these opinions should be kept to oneself. Especially when they are likely to offend. Unless one is asked one's opinion, in which case one should tread very carefully when answering. (Husbands everywhere know exactly what I mean.)
I promise I'm not preaching. This advice is for me as much as for anyone. I am an extremely opinionated person. I have opinions on things I really have no business even having an opinion on. Like when and where flip flops should be worn. (Spring. And Summer.) And whether or not certain things like socks should be worn with open-toed footwear. (NO!) And how toilet paper should be placed on the roll. (Over. Always over. And if I use the bathroom at your house and it's under, I will change it.) I really do genuinely try to not share my opinions, though, if I think they might offend someone. Except with those very few people who I hope know me well enough to know that I am just mouthy, but my heart is in the right place. (So, I apologize to those of you who wear flip flops in the winter, or socks with sandals. I meant no offense. Those of you who put your toilet paper wrong, though, just fix it would ya? Geez!)
I don't know if the semi-anonymity of the internet age contributes to people thinking that everyone wants to know their every thought on every issue. Or if people have always been rude and opinionated and now we just have a faster and easier way of finding that out. I don't know. What I do know is that everyone seems to have an opinion on Every. Thing. And they will not hesitate to let you know what it is. Particularly when it comes to how you are raising your children. When and where and how you give birth. How many kids you should have. How old you should be when you have your kids. How the kind of food you feed your children may ruin them for life. Whether or not breast is best. (BreastFEEDING, you perv.) Whether or not certain Christmas traditions mean that you're raising your child to live in fear for the rest of their life. How much TV they should watch. Vaccinations. Naps. Bedtimes. The list goes on and on.
And these opinions are not just limited to the internet. I should know. After dealing with our 3 younger (translation: needy and sometimes insane) children alone because my husband has been out of town for almost a month, I went to lunch with a friend today. With my tired, ornery, willful, loud 4-year old. Not really my first choice, but I have working-and-going-to-school mom's guilt over not spending enough time with him and he wanted to come. What could possibly go wrong? Today? Everything. I won't rehash all lunchtime shenanigans, but suffice it to say that I did not enjoy my lunch. And at one point had to drag (unusually strong) said 4-year old out of the restaurant so as not to disturb everyone else who still had a chance of enjoying their lunch. It was pretty bad. And then he semi-calmed down. I shoveled down my now-cold lunch and was ready to hightail it out of there. Then he decided to stand up in the booth to see the top of the blinds. Probably the least obnoxious thing he had done all day. Some grouchy grandma in the booth next to us (who had just gotten there and hadn't even been witness to the previous insanity) snapped at him to sit down. And then proceeded to tell her friend about what a crappy mom I am. Like I don't already know. Duh! I have a 13 and 10 daughter. They tell me ALL the time.
It's not the first time a stranger has questioned my parenting. It won't be the last. I can typically handle it with some grace. Usually it rolls right off me like water off a table after your kid has filled his chocolate milk lid with it to bathe his miniature Batman in. Usually. Today was just one of those days, though. Those end-of-my-rope kind of days. It's really just been like that all week for me. I wasn't really in the mood to hear someone's opinion on my crappy parenting. Really. Not. But I did anyway. Because people apparently can't keep their opinions to themselves. I mean, she could've just waited until I was out of earshot at least. Meanie. It ruined the whole rest of my day. Literally.
I'm making it my New Years Resolution to have less opinions. Truly.
The moral of the story is this: Just be kind. Really. Online. In person. Wherever. Whenever. You don't want to be responsible for ruining someone's day.
Also: If you are mean to me (or in general) I may blog about you. Just ask Jody.