Missed a few days there…
It’s funny how as soon as you miss one, it’s easy to miss the next day too. And the next, and the next… The biggest problem is that in my head I have to justify why I let things lapse, which just sets up a road block that quickly becomes enormous.
But I’m back now! And in a weird mood. And with a post long enough to make up for the missed days.
I got drawn into a debate on a friend’s Facebook today. He slammed a proposed tax on sugary drinks that my preferred political party (the Greens) has developed.
I don’t really have a strong opinion about it either way. I agree that some sort of official stance is needed to encourage healthier eating habits in general, but see it as a complex, multi-pronged issue (as do the Greens themselves, who see a 20% tax on drinks with at least 5g of sugar per 100ml as just one step within a larger program to curb obesity).
Anyway, many people in the discussion started wringing their hands and accusing the Greens of being paternalistic and out of touch, claiming that a sugar tax would unfairly burden the most poverty-stricken members of society. I agreed that a broad tax on sugar wouldn’t be the best idea, but pointed out this was just a tax on drinks – not food in general. I figure the greater burden will be borne by middle/upper class types who think nothing of grabbing a can of Coke at lunch: the poorer people around here generally go for no-brand options that are super cheap to start with. We’re talking a price hike of 10-15cents per 1.25L bottle…
Enter my nemesis, Kitty.
Kitty is the wife of the friend that started the conversation and an ex-acquaintance of mine. An ardent feminist and intellectual, we got on quite well for a while there – until we both had children and I immersed myself in an Attachment Parenting approach.
I don’t know if she felt like I was judgemental about mothers who go back to work (I’m not), or if she was projecting her own insecurities, or if she bought into the common argument that Attachment Parenting is inherently a step backwards for feminism (IT SO VERY MUCH IS NOT), or, quite frankly, she was bitter that whenever we met up at parties her daughter preferred my company to hers, but one night she unfriended me with a flounce via private message.
I won’t go into full details, but at the end of her message she wrote:
“PS Your attachment parenting is insane. Let your kids have some boundaries, FFS.”
It cut pretty deep. The implication that my kids were somehow flawed made me seethe for many days. I wanted to rip into her but managed to hold back and just walk away.
The really funny thing was that the night she sent that message we’d been to my brother’s 40th birthday party. It was at an all-you-can-eat buffet that included a dessert bar. My oldest was 4yo at the time (my youngest only 3 months) and as we got there I said to her: “It’s a party tonight so you can help yourself to anything you want! I just want you to have at least one serve of green veggies before you go for the desserts, OK?”
She ended up filling two plates with pasta and bread and vegetables and trying out a bit of everything. When she was finally ready to check out the dessert bar, she had a couple of skewers of marshmallows and fruit dipped in the chocolate fountain, one very small cup of soft serve ice cream, and a couple of tastes of various cakes and jellies.
She was 4. And had been given license to go nuts. And had a very balanced meal with a slightly big dessert.
But, you know, clearly she was crying out for firmer boundaries…
Back to the story
Anyway, Kitty jumped on one of my comments this evening and accused me of being dismissive and elitist. I’ve had a charmed life and have no real-world experience with actual poverty so was not fit to question points made by the people in the thread offering real, lived experience. I was bringing my usual arrogance and condescension to the conversation and was completely blinded by my desire for the Greens to be in the right.
I’d had a few wines at this point so got into a bit of back and forth, trying to remain civil without being drawn into justifying why I had a right to an opinion (not least of which being that people were discussing the effects of a tax on cheap sugary food while the proposal was for a tax on expensive sugary drinks). In the end I threw my hands up and let rip.
I thanked her for the attack. I told her that the last time we’d talked she’d insulted my parenting choices and as a result I’d doubled down on my approach and my kids were thriving. Now? She’d inspired me to double down on my community outreach efforts (volunteering as a teachers aide at the school and becoming more active in the local Greens chapter) just so I can prove her wrong there too.
I then turned off notifications for that post and had a good vent on my own page to try and diffuse my anger (and, as much as I hate to admit it, my tears).
This was an excellent move.
I’ve since had about half a dozen mutual friends reach out and reassure me she was out of line in that conversation, and reaffirm that it was a good idea to switch off notifications, and imply that others had gone into bat for me.
Feeling much better now!
I just wish people like that didn’t elicit such a strong reaction from me. It’s so childish and high-school and ridiculous. I know I’m awesome, and I have many important people in my life who agree with me!
Why can’t I just let it go when I know people don’t like me for reasons they’ve completely invented in their own heads?
Anyway, I have a new mantra in my life. If I’m making an important decision around parenting or social views I will ask myself: “Would this choice spite Kitty?”
I can’t see how it will possibly lead me astray.