Wherein rather than confront I retrospectively vent

I’ve had a mostly lovely evening today, but a run in with a some random asshole has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. The incident is still niggling. And why is it that you always work out what to say after the event?

One lovely thing that happens in this area is the various Christmas markets that take place in the lead up to the festive season. So I took the family and we went into the city for tonight’s Red Lantern Night Markets and we had a very nice time. Good food, funky stalls; I even had a rickshaw ride with my daughter. Fun. So we’d been there a couple of hours and were just about to head home, when my husband run into an ex-student. As they chatted I spied a store that I’d been wanting to check out for a while and ducked in with the kids. The shop was new and funky and set up with families in mind. There were toys around and shop was selling handmade kids clothes, and vintage adult clothes, as well as cute accessories. So, you know, it was the kind of place my funky ideal self would shop at. (Not being this self, maybe I shouldn’t have gone in there).

I’d been carrying my son on my hip; he was tired. Upon entering I saw a groovy leather lounge set up with kid’s cushions, so I put the boy on this couch and explained I was going to look through the merchandise. He was reluctant to be put down but convinced by the cute car shaped cushions. My daughter liked the vibe of the place and was happy to look around. She found a rocking horse and was safely and contentedly occupied. I was browsing through some rather groovy clothes when I heard my daughter tell her brother that he had to share. I turned to see him grab the cushions away from a younger child who was coming to the lounge. Unimpressed with the lad’s behaviour I headed over to the couch to sort the situation. Meanwhile the toddler’s (presumed) father was watching on from a distant corner, and loudly commented about my son’s unwillingness to share. His partner, who was at the lounge with their little boy tried to shush him, but the more she shushed and said it didn’t matter, the louder the man got. “It does matter, look he’s grabbed all three of the cushions”. (His tone was louder and more cutting than this innocuous remark would suggest). I hurried over, and in the time it took me to get to my four year old boy and quietly remind him that the toys were for everyone, not just for him, this stranger had loudly and accusingly made several (to my mind) completely unnecessary remarks to/about my son. The lad handed over a toy cushion to other child without complaining and I was able to return to my shopping.

I hadn’t been impressed with my lad’s behaviour but had roles been reversed and it was my child being denied playthings by another child I wouldn’t have been commenting on the other child’s behaviour. It probably wouldn’t have even struck me as something worth commenting on, as in my experience, casual selfishness is fairly normal behaviour in small children*, especially when you get close to bed time. What annoyed me about the man’s attitude was the assholishness of it. The more his partner tried to quieten him and not make a big deal, the bigger deal he made – he got louder and more obnoxious, over something that was pretty trivial. She was clearly not bothered by my boy, and was embarrassed and discomforted by her partner’s persistence. His little boy wasn’t even perturbed by my boy’s (unfortunate) actions. His attitude would have been perhaps understandable if his boy had responded to the initial non-sharing with a whooper of a tantrum, but the boy hardly seemed to care.

This gentleman’s (I use the term loosely) attitude made me uncomfortable, and I realised later what I should said to the man. I could have politely reminded him, that my son is only four and still learning social etiquette, but that it appeared to be too late for him.

Ha! I wish I had the guts to say something like to someone. I am (as you may have gathered) a non-confrontational person, hence an anonymous blog post being directed at a complete stranger whom I hope to never have the displeasure of seeing again.

I do wonder why people have to be so judgmental in regard to children, and hold children to such high standards in public. Had it been an adult with three magazines would anyone felt entitled to make loud commentary on their behaviour? Kids are kids, and sometimes have to be reminded what the right way to behave is. And sometimes adults could do with that reminder too.

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*and so is unselfishness, empathy and other wonderful behaviours. Our role as our children’s primary socialisers is to cultivate the positive traits and minimise the normal but not-so pleasant traits. And to do this in a manner that is not harmful to the child.** (Doesn’t sound easy when it’s put like that?)

**A task that parents/carers would find much easier in a supportive and non-judgmental environment.

Crime and punishment, or the lass turns seven.

My daughter turned seven a couple of weeks ago. Seven years old. It’s like a new page in the book of her childhood. She seems rather more grown up, a medium-sized child now, no longer so much a “little girl”. I’m not going to go so far as to call her a tween, because she’s still so much a kid. I know that tween stands for “in- between”, no longer a child, not yet a teenager, but my girl is not a tween, she is a child. She’s mysterious and private and flighty, messy, creative, a dreamer and kinda into that girly stuff that I’m into critiquing, but she’s still very definitely a kid. Tween almost seems to mean mini-teen, as far as the marketers and manufacturers are concerned and I am reminded that I may have to write to the clothing manufacturers and let them know that my daughter and many like her are not Tweens. They are kids and would like to dress as such. I’ve noticed already as I went to buy some summer clothes, that now that I can no longer shop for her for in the little girl section of the shop (sizes 2 – 6), but am consigned to the tween section (sizes 7 – 14) it is increasingly hard to find appropriate clothing. You know, stuff that looks as though it was made for the playground and not the dance floor.

As she gets older I notice how different she is to me as a child. Which of course is to be expected, as she is her own person. But our differences in temperament are so stark I wonder whether my parenting style clashes with her personality. We’ve had our moments, shall we say, and there has been times when I question myself.

She was sent to her room, punished for some misdemeanor – probably she was accused of doing wrong by her sibling. In her mind the punishment was entirely undeserved, this was a travesty of justice. She sat in her room seething with the injustice of it all, it was so unfair. The time in confinement was spent devising suitable punishments for her horrible mother who had so unfairly treated her. The perfect vengeance was imagined – her mother was a witch. She would like to lock the witch in a cage and feed her poison for two weeks, not enough poison to kill her, but enough to make her suffer for a while. I don’t know why, but the vengeance fantasy took the sting out of the punishment, and so calmed her that when she was called from her room, having been there for what was considered to be an appropriate amount of time, she not only apologised to mother but confessed the fantasy. She said that she was so angry that she’d wanted to punish her mother and had imagined what she’d like to do. She honestly explained to her mother about wanting to lock her in a cage and feed her poison, but she’d changed her mind, was sorry for whatever it was that had gotten her sent to her room and wanted to be friends with Mum again. A nice reconciliation took place.

That was me many years ago, plotting to lock up my mother. I can no longer remember what it was I was in trouble for, but I do remember telling mum exactly what I’d wanted to do and how angry I’d been. I think she was shocked at my honesty. We forgave each other and I don’t remember ever having such strong vengeful desires towards my mother after that. I also grew out of believing in fairy tale type punishments.

When I recently remembered that incident from my childhood I figured that I’m probably doing ok with my daughter. As far as I know she’s never harbored a desire to poison me, or lock me up in a cage.