9 Jan 2014
So this entry has spawned from something that happened a few months ago. My eldest son was only about 21 months old, and had not yet got the hang of speech yet (boy, has this changed four months on).
My mum and I had taken my sons (then 21 months and 2.5 months) out to the shops and had stopped for a coffee and a bite to eat at the local M&S café.
We sat down, got comfy (i.e. placed my toddler in a high chair and faced my youngest so that he could see us all from the buggy). Mum went up to the counter to order our refreshments and on cue, my eldest began to get fidgety and irritated because mum had disappeared. I explained to him that she was getting our food, but he was getting impatient for her, and kept turning round to see where she had gone, trying to escape the constraints of his high chair. But even more irritatingly, had begun to make an awful sound that he used to make when he couldn’t be bothered to make an effort to say a word. This sound was similar to that of a dog pleading for a morsel of your roast dinner from under the table. It was fairly embarrassing, as it sounded as though he was begging for food, when all he was trying to communicate was that he wanted mum to come back.
There were a few people sitting nearby who smiled politely and tried to make conversation with me and him. I returned the conversation politely, and explained that he was just getting impatient that my mum had gone.
But then, completely to my surprise, an elderly woman appeared from a few seats away, with a biscuit in her hand, and gave it to my son. She literally came out of nowhere, almost like an apparition. She didn’t ask me if it was alright to give him a biscuit. And to my annoyance, instead of taking the biscuit from her and keeping it, I politely thanked her, with a smile, and let my toddler eat it. Fiona, WTF?!
She obviously thought my son was hungry and begging for food. She probably thought that I was being a terrible mother and denying him prompt nourishment. But honestly, who does this?! I mean, who gives other people’s kids food without asking, particularly strangers?! More to the point, what kind of mother accepts it?! (I really am coming across as a complete walkover, aren’t I?).
So this has prompted me to assess this scenario again. I mean, really, what is the big deal? She was a kind old lady who saw my pleading, whining son, took pity on him and gave him a biscuit. Should I be so incensed at her for approaching my son and giving him a little treat? What harm could it have done? Have we all got incredibly sensitive about all things to do with our children? Should I have been grateful?
And that is about all I can muster at being Devil’s Advocate. I was bloody livid. This woman had no idea if my son had allergies. If he had, and I had a medical reason to whip that biscuit out of his hand, I would have had the mother of all meltdowns to deal with. Not to mention this woman was a total stranger and I have no idea where her biscuit and her hands had been. So I’m letting the immature immune system of my little toddler deal with that. And what about her ruining his appetite for a proper meal by handing him a sugar-laden treat before his dinner? Furthermore, what is it teaching him by giving him a treat when he is having a whingey moment? Honestly, it is a minefield. Even Mr C, who is normally telling me off for being too sensitive, highly strung etc, was completely taken aback that a stranger had handed our son a biscuit.
In this day and age, one really does not expect that situations like this still happen. But apparently they still do, and it seems that we have to mentally prepare ourselves in advance for all sorts of crazy situations that test our stance. It seems that I failed miserably when tested in this circumstance. I made the decision to not offend a stranger, ultimately at the expense of my child. And I am aware that this sounds rather dramatic, but it is the principal that counts, in my opinion. I am now dreading the moment when I am tested for something more crucial than a sodding biscuit.
I would be so interested to hear your thoughts on this.
Till next time.