Every so often on a very large board I used to participate on, someone would report that they’d gotten this treatment:
“You’re not a parent, so you don’t know.”
Usually this line is uttered in response to someone who has expressed a desire that a parent prevent his or her children from screaming “A thousand bottles of beer on the wall” in a nosebleed-inducing screech while straddling the back of your seat on an airplane.
No matter what someone uses to put down your intelligence, it’s rude. But I find it especially rude to imply that because the person you’re talking to may not have children, she doesn’t understand discipline, compassion and hard work.
Having said that, I recently remembered the only time in my life that I’ve ever said to someone, “You’re not a parent, so you don’t know.”
Three years ago, my brother-in-law was staying at our house. I can’t remember if it was for a five-day visit or for the summer, to be honest, but he hadn’t been around our children very long.
He’s a great guy and our children adore him, particularly Kiddo#2 who had a terrible Uncle Crush on him and, after he left from the summer-long visit, asked me to print out a picture of him to hang in her room.
Like unto his Patient Brother, my Patient Brother-In-Law is a computer geek, always arriving with his laptop and many awesome finds for us to admire.
And so it was, one afternoon, while my Patient Brother-In-Law was out on the lawn wreaking havoc with the children and my Patient Husband, I went downstairs into the family room to take care of some detail or other, and I saw it:
In the dark, in the silence, low on the carpet, the steady glow of a standby light. My brother-in-law’s laptop, laid carefully on the carpet right in front of the television stand. Right in front of the TV, in front of the VCR, in front of the DVD player.
Fighting giggles, I moved it to a higher location, and then I tracked down my Patient Brother-In-Law, and I uttered those terrible seven words as preamble to my explanation of why I’d needed to save his laptop’s life.
Because sometimes, if you aren’t a parent, you don’t know that to a toddler in pursuit of Clifford or DragonTales, the world is your step-stool.