One of Kale’s nemeses these days is the dreaded sun hat. I’ve got a huge assortment of hats for Kale – hats with straps, hats with flaps, hats with cats and bats and rats. Okay maybe not the cats and bats and rats ones, but we do have crocodiles!
The second a hat touches Kale’s head he spends great deals of energy trying to remove it. This includes hooded sweatshirts and jackets and basically any hat-esque piece of fabric. He can’t get them off his head fast enough. It’s frustrating – we are told over and over how sensitive to the sun toddlers’ heads are, but we are also told to make sure they get plenty of sunshine and time outdoors, and that time outdoors is not something I am willing to sacrifice because Kale won’t keep a hat on. So we sunscreen him to death and hope for the best. Because as a parent, doing something preventative and then carrying on with life, is sort of what I want to emulate.
In any event, the other day I was walking with Kale, as we are wont to do, and we paused to wait for the crosswalk signal and as it changed and we began crossing, a woman came up beside me just at the moment when Kale chose to remove the hat that for the past 30 minutes had not messed with his mojo and he’d left alone. She BARKED at him “NO! Leave your hat on!” and picked it up off his lap and practically slapped it on his head. Kale was as shocked as I was. By this time, we’d finished crossing the street (which was my intention to do BEFORE reaching into the stroller and putting the hat back on his head because although cancer sucks, getting hit by a car sucks more), and I was absolutely dumbfounded at this woman’s self-appointed watchdoggery. Not only did she feel it was perfectly okay to admonish and correct my son, she felt that it was her right to judge whether he should have his hat back on.
I’ve been trying incredibly hard to not say “NO!” to Kale. I truly feel that the overuse of the word “no” makes it less important, so instead I try and use positive reinforcement and occasionally, trickery to get Kale do do whatever it is I want him to do. For example, when it comes to hats, when he removes them, I usually try and say something like “Good job taking your hat off, Kale. Now can you put your hat on?”and then assist him to put it on his head and ask him nicely to leave it there, please. Sometimes, I will say things like “You silly bean! Outside means hats!” in a cheery and positive way.
I do occasionally get frustrated, I do occasionally bark at him to STOP TAKING HIS HAT OFF JEEZ! and I do occasionally say NO! but that’s my call to make, and it’s my decision as to what point I decide to escalate the correction to an actual negatively charged order. It is not the job of some random stranger walking beside me in a busy crosswalk.
So I sat there, fuming, wondering how on earth to address the fact that this woman so blatantly crossed a line with me, and it dawned on me that anyone who was willing to do that to a perfect stranger likely didn’t care what other people thought and anything I said would waste my time, create a scene, and not really be something I wanted Kale to listen in on. So I shut my mouth, and ignored her, and waited patiently for the light to change so we could cross to the other side of the street and continue on our merry way.