Don’t Judge. Just don’t.

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Self Portrait, Toronto, September 2013

Self Portrait, Toronto, September 2013

Traveling—and later immigrating to Canada—taught me to be less judgmental. Yes, that’s a common characteristic among the French—judging people. I sometime think French are bogged down by history and never quite got over the fact they aren’t the epicentre of the so-called civilized world… but that’s a whole different topic.

We are a multicultural family and we blend our cultures, traditions and ways of living in this multicultural and diverse country. This taught me that there are many ways to live life and that no one really has a perfect instruction manual.

Do you know what else taught me to keep my thoughts to myself?

Having a baby.

The other day, I was in the bus back home, stuck between two very young mothers with strollers in front of me and another mother in the seat behind with a toddler. She was on the phone with her bank and her little girl was bugging her for attention. Eventually, she snapped “No! I’m on the phone! Drink your bottle and give me a freaking minute!”

The two mothers at the front didn’t like that. “Eh, take a chill pill!” one of them said loudly. “Take care of your baby instead of chatting on your goddamn phone!” the other added.

Like many folks, I get pretty annoyed when people in the bus conduct loud conversations on their cell. Although it can sometime be entertaining—last time, I was sitting by a blond bimbo who screamed over her phone: “I slept with ONE guy! And you cheated on me with THREE girls!”

This time, I could hear the mother trying to solve a tricky financial situation with her bank. And I couldn’t help thinking that this commute may be the only moment she had to reach the bank and deal with an issue. And while I don’t think snapping at your kid is a good idea, we all have our moments. I yelled at Mark more than once, out of frustration or tiredness. It doesn’t make it right but come on, dealing with kids is tough and no one is perfect all the time.

Don’t judge. Just don’t. Hey, for all I know, this woman may have been the best caring mother. She was just having a bad day. She doesn’t deserve to be judged by strangers in the bus. We don’t have the full story here.

Sometime, I am this “bad mother”.

Most evenings, I take Mark to the playground. I push him on the swing and supervise him on the slide. And then, I let him crawl on the grass and explore. I call it “unleashing the dragon”. We have a football field and it’s pretty clean—well as clean as grass can be. No dog poop, no garbage, just clean grass. I sit there with my BlackBerry, catching up on work emails, and Mark crawls around.

That’s exactly what we were doing when that evening, I suddenly heard: “Hey! Your baby is running away!”

I turned around to face a mother and her toddler.

“Yes, he enjoys exploring,” I said. Mark was about ten meters from me, on the empty football field.

“Well, maybe you should be paying attention to your kid instead of texting your friends!” she snapped.

I didn’t even bother replying—or putting my BlackBerry away.

What did she know about us? Did she know that I had spent the previous ten hours taking care of Mark, interacting with him, playing with him? Did she know that as a freelancer and a busy mom that was my only chance to catch up with work before the evening chores? Did she know how happy I was that Mark, the Velcro baby, was finally okay with exploring the world on his own?

Don’t judge. Just don’t. you rarely have the full picture and you will do more harm than good.

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

18 Comments

  1. Oh this is such a common desease… It takes so much effort to remember that what-you-see-and-think-of-it is far from reality. It’s just the vision you create from it.
    I don’t understand how people can feel entitled to give comments, advices, and lessons to others. I don’t know if it’s about feeling better than other, feeling happy to point at someone’s else fault, or simply being bored… In any case, it’s not good.
    I agree with you : don’t judge. As an exercice, we can even try to imagine all the situations that could lead to the scene we have seen and made us want to snap a bitter comment.

  2. K so those bus phone conversations are actually my favourite. I used to take the bus to school every day when I lived in Winnipeg, and I LIVED for that shit. I remember one girl getting on and talking to someone, presumably an ex, saying how he wasn’t allowed to come over anymore and how the last time the cops were called.. etc etc etc. God those people are so fun to listen to. My only problem is that I WANT TO KNOW ALL THE DETAILS. Like, I’m disappointed I can only hear half of the conversation.

    • I must admit I sometime wish I could follow the conversation until the end! I hate when people get off the bus and I don’t have “closure” 😆

  3. I love this – I saw something similar the other day. There was a woman on a bus with her three kids. The youngest was screaming blue murder and she was very short tempered with him. He kept throwing his hat on the floor and at one point I saw her pick it up and squeeze it in her hand really hard, like a stress ball. Meanwhile her daughter wanted to lie on her and she snapped at her to sit up properly on the bus. I wanted to say something, however….ten minutes into the journey, her youngest had stopped screaming, she had let her daughter settle on her lap and her eldest son was messing around being funny and making her laugh and they were like the model family. I know those moments of frustration so well (with the dog mainly!) sometimes things slip out and you need the moment of peace that follows them to build yourself back up again. Not ideal, but utterly human nonetheless!

    • Kuddo to you for observing but not saying anything. Kids can be annoying sometime and I think parents should “handle” their kids. But if a kid cries, there is only so much you can do… it happens. And we all have our moments. I mean, I love Mark but I’m not always as patient and caring as I should be just because it’s bloody hard and you are still human!

  4. Je pense pas que le fait de juger autrui soit typiquement Français, la preuve avec tes tites madames anglophones dans le bus et sur le terrain de foot 😉 C’est plutôt typiquement occidental disons 😀 Ca nous est tous arrivé de le faire, que ça soit intérieurement ou bien tout haut pour certains.

    Mais c’est clair que dans ce temps là t’as juste envie de leur dire de se mêler de leurs affaires 😉 Ca se dit tu ça en anglais “Va donc balayer devant ta porte vieille sacoche!” ? 😀

  5. Hi Zhu,
    Excellent post.
    You know that all the experiences that each of us is having is teaching us lessons. I think that you have learned a lesson of tolerance and acceptance. Yes, you can put yourself in the shoes of other Moms.
    I had a very hard lesson on judgement this year when it comes from friends.Judgement does not come from the best part of someone, even in a good friend.

    Bravo for being in the cool Moms club 🙂 Bises.

  6. Great lesson !! I don’t like when strangers want to give “criticisms” when they have no idea what’s going on. I used to judge parents with their kids at the stores and/or airplanes. But after living with my sister and babysitting with niece, i gained a new perspective and it was a very humble experience.

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