"How can I judge you, when this is my kid?"
This is what I ended up saying after Landon was a guest at one of my library programs. My mom had very sweetly agreed to bring him, but he was being anything but sweet when he got there.
When it was time to pass out rainbow scarves, Landon went to the bin and took them all. (I had not realized this was possible). He gathered them all up to his chest, and clutched them with a fierce look on his face. "These are mine! I'm not sharing these!" he declared. When another child tried to pull one free, they began the toddler dance of possession, with the accompanying territorial grunts and groans.
"Oh, buddy, we share the scarves. You need to let this boy take one."
I am talking to a tyrant. He is not softened by my gentle tone or the affectionate use of "buddy".
Instead I must resort to, "Landon, if you can't share, you'll have to go," which is a trigger for him to begin a loud wail that even picking him up could not comfort.
He had to go.
There was that awkward half moment when the rest of the moms are watching to see what I'll say.
"I could be mortified, but I'm just....not."
And they laugh.
Collectively, we share the knowledge that we try to shape these little people, but we cannot control them.
We can set reasonable boundaries and they stomp over them.
We can model good behavior, we can practice it, we can expect it, we can ask for it:
and not get it.
And at inopportune times they can make it seem like we have no parenting "skills" at all.
So really, dear friends whose children are as mixed a bag as my own sweet boy,
how can I judge you?