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.
*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.