Unless you have a child who is prone to losing the plot in the middle of a shopping centre you probably won’t understand how stressful it can be. To be fair most people are pretty understanding: they’ve been through it themselves. They politely side-step the monster as he lies on the ground either laughing or screaming. Often grandparents will giggle and give that knowing nod of “yes I remember that”. But on the odd occasion you or your child get judged. And it sucks.
We had a typical visit to our local shopping centre this afternoon. For a few minutes we cut the image of the stereotypical family: mum and dad walking hand in hand with their incredibly obliging offspring. But then we passed one of those god-awful kids ride things that I swear they put in shopping centres just to give parents nervous breakdowns. So we let Lachie play and climb and spin the wheel hoping against hope that he would get bored and continue on with us without a fuss. Wa-waah. No such luck.
After asking nicely a few times with no success I picked up my kicking, screaming and thrashing toddler and continued on. As we power-walked to the supermarket a lady a few steps behind us exclaimed loudly to her friend “I’m so glad I had a girl, I would of hated to have a boy, they are such a nightmare.” I wish I was more confrontational because she should of been pulled in to line. I should have said: “not only is it a bit simplistic to assume that my sons behaviour is a result of his gender but also that it is anything but within the realm of normal for a child his age. He is not ‘naughty’ or ‘bad’, he is just a toddler, frustrated that he can’t have what he so desperately wants. So why don’t you keep your judgmental, shitty-ass opinions to yourself.” But instead I kept on my toddler-wrangling way, silently seething on the inside.
Next time (and no doubt, there will be one) I’m hoping I can get over my social niceties and tell the person what I really think.
What about you, how do you deal with judgement when it comes to your child or parenting abilities?