Nipping in to Tesco today with my two little babes was pretty uneventful. No tantrums to report back on. The screaming kids this time weren’t my own. Not that mine have a meltdown at every supermarket trip, they actually quite enjoy a ride in the trolley and helping find the items off our list. My small one also enjoys eating the list, it’s a phase she’s had since birth. The ‘everything’s edible’ phase.
After our serious decisions of which Easter Eggs we’re sending to Mr Bunny this year we headed to the checkouts.
(It really was serious we picked up and put back at least ten, the boy didn’t know whether he fancied Paw Patrol or Terrys Chocolate Orange – because it was three times as big)
At the checkout next to us there was a little boy freaking out. Freaking. Out.
I’m not sure about you but I don’t really hear other people’s children crying anymore. I’m so consumed in making sure mine aren’t, that it’s just background noise to me. Or maybe I’ve tuned my ears to ignore this noise. Either way, it really doesn’t bother me, I usually don’t even look. Just count my blessings that this time that’s not my kid.
Behind this screaming boy was a mum who looked a little sweaty, a bit puffy and incredibly angry. Then she screamed.
”Will you just sit down and be quiet”
I’m pretty sure she muttered ffs after that, but I can’t be sure.
Chances are this mum has had to deal with her sons bad mood all day until she snapped. Right there at the Tesco checkouts. Mums usually don’t snap at one tantrum, there’s always a build up.
Then came the tutting brigade. People who either don’t have children or have completely forgotten what it’s like to parent one. Don’t get me wrong, we can all be a bit judgemental sometimes can’t we. It’s ok to judge, it makes us feel a little bit better about our own insecurities, especially when it comes to parenting. But judge on the inside. Always judge on the inside. The Tutting Brigade take their judgey thoughts and post them out there with a simple ‘tut’. This doesn’t make the frantic mum feel any better. (God help the Tutting Brigade if a wound up mum ever saw. Their safety would be at risk.)
Parents in this situation don’t need a tut or a glare to confirm that they’ll feel guilty for snapping once this meltdown is over. They already know this. It doesn’t make a whining child who’s body-slamming themselves onto a concrete floor in Tesco easier to cope with. If anything, it makes the mum think it’s all not normal. That her son is mental and she has anger issues. My least favourite thought as a first time mum was “why can everyone else cope so well, but I cant”.
This is where us bystanders need to either show a bit of empathy, which I know all of you parents will do, because like I said before we either can’t hear it anyway or we’re completely on that mums’ side. (Sorry child. We’ve got baby beasts of our own so we know you’ve probably been a sod all day. We do also know you were probably an angel during the last supermarket trip, toddler trickery works wonders at catching us off guard.) Our other option is to look the other way, ignore it. Be grateful this time it’s not yours, sneak yourself a high-five.
Parents of a child who is melting uncontrollably in front of their eyes, while trying to pack the fruit and numerous amounts of bribes into bags, already feel like all eyes are on them. Imagine if all eyes really were on them.
Once my son became really upset as we were walking through town, I can’t remember why but he was probably tired. Unfortunately he never slept in his buggy and his cot wouldn’t fit in the nappy bag, so I had no choice but to race back to the car, white noise at full volume in the buggy. I was panicking inside, embarrassed. I feel ridiculous now that I was embarrassed, because in a bustling town, no-one really notices a crying baby.
But I felt stared at.
Then I was stopped by a woman, without insulting the woman (who will probably never see this anyway) I imagine she was upwards of 60. She looked at me with a sympathetic smile and said; “I remember when mine were like this”. My reply was “it’s bloody awful isn’t it”. Then we laughed and carried on about our business. That was what I needed, someone to assure me it’s normal. Although it confirms she did in fact notice my terribly upset screaming little babe, she didn’t judge, she must have noticed my pained expression and thought saying something is better than nothing.
I’m not brave enough to say this to a parent who is really losing their sh*t in public, because any comment can be misconstrued by the angry mist they’re surrounded by. The woman who I saw in Tesco probably wouldn’t have appreciated any kind of comment, nice or not. She definitely wouldn’t have wanted tuts or staring and would most likely be praying that her and her son were invisible. They weren’t thank God or there’d be no blog post!
If there is ever a mum having a rough outing with her child, I try and say something encouraging, “mine had a meltdown last week too, they’re funny aren’t they”. They’re definitely not funny, but a smile and an ‘I’ve been there’ chat helps lift parents up and it can also change their outlook on the situation.
I’m not too sure where I’m going with this post now, other than with the hope we can all be empathetic to every parent and their screaming child. Sometimes there’s nothing a parent can do to pacify the situation, because if there was something, they’d be doing it, trust me. It’s not their fault, it’s not their babes fault, it’s the unfortunate part of parenting we all have to go through, like an initiation. You’ve not known parenting until your child has lost their temper in public and laid on the floor in protest.
Here’s some flowers to brighten your day, just in case you were the woman behind the screaming kids