Today's post may well link nicely back into an earlier blog I wrote about being nice. However, I thought I'd write it anyway as something a bit more specific happened today whilst out Christmas shopping and birthday present shopping for Ben with the family.
So, a brief description of the event. Catherine was standing looking at a wide variety of practical toys for a nearly two year old, with Martha buzzing around her feet playing with all the toys she could get her hands on. Ben was sitting in the buggy and had been there for about an hour by this point. Of course he would rather have been free to run around the predictably busy shop but since we had jobs to do, we felt it best to keep him contained. He would reach out and grab whatever was within his grasp and try to play with it. By play, I mean eat. However, on the whole he was happy. Smiling and chatting away as best he can with us.
Where was I in this pretty normal everyday family shopping trip? Well I was moving up to join them having been exploring a specific toy that I deemed far too expensive and not really what Ben would like for his birthday. I started to move back to the family because I heard Ben do his "I'm not happy because I'm not getting what I want" frustrated noise, which is particularly loud and pained. It's really gravelly and not at all nice. A few heads turned. No surprise there. However, as I was moving back to the family, I heard an interesting conversation between a couple.
A lady not too dissimilar in age from myself, pregnant, turned to her partner and said "That'll be us soon". This prompted the robust reply from her partner, "No it won't. I wouldn't ignore it. I'd do something to stop it making noise. Especially if it's that angry."
He had no idea the man next to him was the father of the child apparently being ignored. I let him know though. Gently of course. Well, as subtle as I can be. I said "Careful mate, we're not ignoring him. He's just being grumpy because he's not getting his way." I then took Ben far away from the people he had so annoyed and carried on with the shopping.
I know I was not meant to hear that conversation between those two people. I'm sure he felt, as a future parent to be, that raising children is an utter breeze and there is never a need for a nearly two year old to shout out unless the parents are failing them. The thing was, it made me acutely aware of what other things can be conceived as failings to a casual passer-by.
My son had also, by this point, removed his shoes and socks. They were on the buggy, ready to be reused of course, but Ben doesn't like wearing footwear if he feels he doesn't need it. We were inside, so he removed the shoes and socks, sucked on a sock for a while and then discarded that too. It's not for want of trying. I often put them back on only to wheel over them moments later. Martha on the other hand doesn't like coats. It stops her from showing off whatever dress she has chosen to wear that day. It's pretty rubbish for winter to be honest.
There will be some reading this that at this point will say, she's five, you should make her. I riposte with, you try. Nine times out of ten, I'll win. Especially if we're out for a walk or out and about for a prolonged period of time. Martha will always put her coat back on if she is cold, but the second she's outside, she's running everywhere. Who am I kidding? She runs everywhere at home too. She gets hot. I completely understand her point of view. I hate being too hot. So I'll not argue too vigorously as it's not worth it. She gets sulky, the day becomes twice as long and we get nothing done as not only do we have two small children in tow, one of them is a grumpy five year old who might as well be a fourteen year old telling me that "I don't understand."
And when it comes to Ben and his desire to shake off his shoes and socks, or feet prisons as he seems to think they are, I'll replace as often as possible, but if I did it every time, it'd take me two hours to get from the car to the shopping centre door.
It's amazing what a tiny overheard conversation can cause you to think. At the end of the day, I'm fine with all of this because we had an ace time. My kids are healthy and happy and tucked in bed as I type. Who knows what the night will bring? A 2 o'clock wake up because Martha's quilt has fallen off perhaps? What I do know, is that I love them both and they love me.
To the couple contemplating their imminent parenthood, good luck. I hope your children never shout at the wrong time, wet the bed, refuse to eat or sleep or any other inevitable actions that will happen. Please, in the future, don't think you can do it better. We're all making our parenting experience up anyway. So long as we do the best for our children and love them unconditionally, we're doing fine. Next time you hear a child screaming or see a child throwing a massive tantrum on the supermarket floor please consider the carer who is handling the situation in the best way they know how. You may consider the child is being ignored or not what you would do, but you don't know what's been happening in their lives for the previous few hours. It may very well be because they want to eat a million sweets and the person in charge said no. I fully appreciate that Ben's scream made you think the worst, but please next time, try to think the best. Be nice. Think nice.
Enjoy the picture of Martha and Ben at the end of the shopping trip. Martha has chocolate up the side of her dress but it still must be seen by all, so no coat. Ben has removed his shoes and is now eating them. The socks are in my coat pocket on the buggy. It's 4 degrees celsius in the picture.