It must be something about me – I must wear a look that screams “fresh off the boat” or “clueless parent.” Or maybe it’s because I wear the “I don’t give a sh*t what I look like” look and this encourages people to think that they know better than I do. Whatever it is, for some reason, some people (particularly busybody women) feel the need to tell me what to do when it comes to my children.

I’m not talking about the well-intentioned older friend, grandma or mother-in-law; I’m talking about complete strangers whom I encounter in public places. Usually I’m with one child or both, and these people seem to think that it’s OK for them to opine on the way that I’m doing things.

Yesterday, I got a lecture from another young mom at the supermarket – something asinine about how “rude it is to take the double shopping carts when it’s clearly not needed.” My daughter was with me but my son was with hubby in the restroom and so it looked like I only had one kid. Clearly she had issue with that. When my son came bounding out of the restroom and it was clear that I was not violating some sacred parenting rule of double shopping carts, she averted her stare as I commented on her rudeness of being a busybody know-it-all.

A week ago, it was about my son. We were in a popular Mexican restaurant – you know the kind…lots of families with young kids, pinatas hanging from the ceiling, strings of lights hanging from the windows, a man strolling the restaurant serenading patrons with noisy songs, and chips, salsa and margaritas adorning every table. We weren’t even 10 minutes into our meal when my son shouts “I need to go poo poo…REALLY BAD.” For those of you who have young potty trained kids, the sentiment that having your child sit on a public toilet kind of skeeves you out may be familiar to you. Add that to the fact that the level of confidence that I have that my husband will ensure that the toilet doesn’t need a good wipedown before exposing the kids’ bare butts to it is pretty low – I’d much rather take my son in with me than leave it up to my husband. Besides, hubby was already three swigs into a well-deserved beer.

It’s not like my kids are 7 or 8 – they are 4…FOUR! My son can’t even properly wipe his own @ss; when he does, his underwear usually ends up in the trash at the end of the day. In my mind, IT’S PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE for me to take my son in with me into the ladies’ restroom. The fact that I’m constantly reminding him “don’t touch the potty with your hands,” “don’t open the [feminine product] trash bin,” and “wash your hands with soap” reinforces that having and adult in with him is generally a good thing.

I took my son into the stall and he looked down, noticing our stall neighbor’s shoes, which were identical to mine. “Mommy…those are the same shoes that you have…” His presence was innocent – he didn’t poke his head under the stall, he didn’t climb up on the toilet and peer over the top. He just happened to look down while he was taking a sh*t in a pretty dirty bathroom.

When we emerged from the bathroom stall with me reminding him “don’t touch that,” I saw our stall neighbor washing her hands. I escorted my son over to the sink and acknowledged her presence with a simple “Hi.”

She gave me the hairy eyeball and rather than reciprocating the greeting, she spewed judgment.

“You know…in some places, there are rules against taking boys his age into the ladies’ room.”

She left quickly before I had a chance to respond, clearly wanting to avoid any confrontation; not that I really would have said much in front of my son.

These incidents happen frequently enough that I am thinking of getting a shirt printed – one for which I can unzip my jacket and in a gesture that mimics a naked highway flasher, wield the words that I would like to say (but don’t for sake of not exposing my kids to the ugliness). I won’t do it because I am above this, but sheesh…really? People just need to mind their own [bleep]ing business…