Judging: Stories in Parenting

Judging nowadays is an Olympic sport, amirite? We love to get on our computers, social media and judge the SHIT out of other people’s choices, actions, etc. We go on FB, read the thoughtful article our sister/cousin/aunt posted, then we write our judging-ass opinions.


I was recently reminded of a saying about opinions that one of my many relatives loved to impart: opinions are like assholes, everyone has them. So true. We all judge others so we feel superior, right? Well, not always. I used to judge people’s decisions, not because I wanted to feel superior, but just because I thought I could do better. I thought to myself, that’s crazy, I’d never do that, I’m going to do better.

Let me paint you a picture: The year is 2010. The 3 musketeers are 13 years old, the Khevster is 5. They are all attending different middle schools, Aru B. is attending a prestigious school in Williamsburg, Bklyn. That year they have a movie made about their chess team. Aru becomes an understudy on a popular Broadway show and has a couple of commercials out. (He appears for less than 2 seconds, but that’s enough to keep the other kids in awe). And the Khevster decides, he’s going to follow in his footsteps, planning his schools thru college. 

But mostly when I looked at him, all I saw was Aru’s huge, unkempt afro. I kept thinking, why the hell doesn’t she force him to get braids, it’s frigid outside. Or at least insist that he get it combed. It never looked combed. It looked… dry. I looked at my own little well oiled, braided sons and…. I judged.

Poetic justice I guess you’d call it. The Khevster and I wound up at Aru’s junior high crying, begging and invoking his name to get in (it worked!) Now he’s a straight A STEM student who has also been called upon to get on a stage or two in front of famous people. He (we?) are living a dream. But day to day, his afro looks exactly like Aru’s used to. Big, dry, uncombed, unkempt and shitty. This was an unending source of arguments and stress for me and of course him, for the last eight months. I kept making plans to have it braided, unbeknownst to him. When he found out he would fight me, give me such a hard time I would be left standing and wondering, is this really worth the fight?

Let me help you. Nope. It’s not. If your five year old has an uncombed afro and looks unkempt, that is a sorta, partial reflection on you as a parent. With a twelve year old? Not so much. Yesterday the temperature hit 17 degrees and we argued over the state of his clothing, underclothing and coat. Then I took a step back. Fuck what everyone else thinks. How’s he gonna know he’s cold and miserable if I don’t allow him to make the choice to be cold and miserable? Trust and believe that after walking the dogs together for 20 minutes, he was cold and miserable as fuck.


Part of me wishes I’d had some spare gloves and a hat in my pockets so I could take that away and make it all better. But what would he have learned? Nothing. So I watched him shake and shiver. He’ll be none the worse for wear. And if anyone is looking at him and his lack of warm clothing and tore’ up afro and judging me? I’m not mad. I did that too. And now I wish I hadn’t. In 10 years we are going to look back at all these crazy afro pics and laugh. He’ll be mortified. And I’ll be revered as a good mom. So yeah, fuck judgments, try your hardest not to do it.


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