Saturday, July 13, 2013

An open letter to the other moms at the mall playplace yesterday

Dear other moms* at the mall playplace yesterday,

I get it. I really do. Letting an eleven-month-old baby crawl up a slide, turn around, sit down, and slide down by herself sounds terrifying. It's obviously not on your list of things you'd let your own baby do.

Yes, I tucked her dress into her underoos shortly after that. 

Like I said, I get it. I didn't want to let her do it either. I have those feelings inside me, too. DANGER! DANGER! MY ANGEL BABY MIGHT FALL AND HURT HERSELF! 

But ... she didn't. And look at how steady she was. And how proud of herself she was. She learned how to do that today. In about three minutes of experimenting. And she's only been walking for a month. 

While I was clearly terrified, my desire to let her explore and learn and develop new skills outweighed that. Maybe you'll notice a moment in the second video where the camera bobs around. That's me jumping onto the slide to be closer to her, to have her within hand's reach. I got scared, too, but I kept a smile on my face and encouraged her. It was hard, but I did it.

Now this one goes out especially to the mothers who were gasping and looking faint and watching my baby instead of their own young children (You can see one from the other side of the slide in the second video, leaning in to watch her and ignoring her own two-year-old falling off a giant turtle. Ahem.):

Seriously -- I get it. It's a fine line between protecting them from danger and letting them put themselves out there to experiment. Letting a very little baby do so might seem foolhardy to you. That's okay that you think that. I'm not going to go around making comments about you NOT giving your child space to explore, so saying things like "Kids, we have to leave this playplace early because I can't stand watching that baby be allowed to put herself in danger one more second!" isn't really appreciated. 

I promise you, I'm scared, too. But more importantly than that, I'm RIGHT THERE. I'm right there to catch her if she falls or scoop her up from the (ridiculously soft) surface of the playplace and kiss her until she's smiling and brave again. 

But she didn't need that, did she? In a half an hour of that up and down, she didn't need me for one second. She marched right over to that giant fish, without a backwards glance, and set off to do what she wanted to do. 

I know what she's capable of and what she's not. I'm not shoving a baby who cannot yet walk onto a four-foot-tall balance beam and shouting at her to get busy learning to balance. I had carefully decided, based on what I know of MY OWN CHILD'S skill set, that she would likely be successful if I let her attempt this venture.

To grab her and swaddle her and shush her while she bucked off my lap, reaching out to be where her sister was -- I wasn't up for it. To deny her not only the fun but the experience of learning how to walk up a slide, turn around, and slide herself down? Should I have done that to make YOU more comfortable?

So, to sum up: raise yours how you want, but don't make me feel like an abusive mom when I let mine do things you might not let yours do until they're a little older. Hey, who knows? Maybe yours will turn out "better" than mine because of your parenting choices. More power to you. We're all doing what we think is best and right. I promise.

*Not to start any wars here, but there were two dads there and they were not uncomfortable, did not gasp, make passive aggressive comments, or shoot me dirty looks. In fact, they all smiled at me and the girls and gave me sympathetic looks from time to time. It's just a fact.


  1. those videos are so wonderful! this reminds me of part of the article I linked to on fb the other day.,1 (number 5)

  2. This is great. I really hate how judgemental some parents can be

  3. This is great. I really hate how judgemental some parents can be

  4. Good for you for letting her do her thing and for standing your ground. What did they think was going to happen, that she'd tumble two feet down an inclined plane and DIE? People are ridiculous.

  5. You are an amazing Mama. There will always be someone, somewhere, that will have something to say. Always.

  6. Gotta let 'em run sometimes. Try to catch them, and if you don't, be there to kiss the boo boos.


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