I decided to go for a trip to town the other day. We were in the depths of a sickness bug and only treading shallow waters, it seems, when I thought I would run into Iceland for a few things for tea.
You see, lady, and I hope you don’t mind me calling you that, but I hadn’t slept all night. I had tried everything to get O back to sleep, wiped sick off the floor twice, settled him and had cleaned almost every inch of my house. I was exhausted.
When I strolled into the shop, O decided he actually didn’t like Iceland at all. Not sure if it was the layout or the baltic temperature, but he wanted to leave, and made it very clear by screaming at the top of his lungs.
I know your child could probably recite the dictionary at the age of 1, however my son is still unable to communicate how he feels without a shriek being involved somewhere.
I could feel everyone staring at me, and their eyes burning into my skull.
I know right, I am a young mother, I asked for it, and although I am 22, I have been told many times I look a lot younger, which obviously comes with great judgement when you have a child. Especially a screaming one.
Now, what do you suggest I do, lady? Drop and run? Not buy anything to feed him later, because he is upset and wants to leave? Can you imagine the comments you would make if I was in the paper for depriving my son of food, because he was shrieking in the supermarket?
Of course, I wanted the ground to swallow me up. I wanted to run away. I didn’t know what to do.
I could see you staring, and edging over, shaking your head in disapproval. When you came over, I actually had so much hope… but then you knelt down in front of the push chair, and said in the most condescending tone, “You poor baby. Is your mammy ignoring you?”, which seemed to attract a crowd and many sympathetic comments from the people surrounding.
To be quite frank, I just didn’t need it, and to answer your question, which was clearly aimed at me, yes.
Yes, I was ignoring him. I was ignoring him because I had already got him out of his push chair 3 times. I had tried to cheer him up. I had tried everything. I had tried singing to him, shushing him, rocking him… everything. At this point I realised there was nothing I could do that would make him happy, so I had to listen to it.
If you hadn’t noticed, I was rushing so much to avoid a scream-a-thon, that I actually felt like I was going to collapse. Everyone staring made my anxiety level rise hugely, until I felt like my only solution was to give in.
If it was easy to get a sick toddler to cooperate, do you think I would have been in that situation? However I had no choice. I had to endure it, and trust me, I hate listening to it just as much as the next person.
I don’t know you, and I know I’m probably not the first person you have made a comment to, but I just expected more.
What I do want to say, is don’t EVER feel like you have the right to indirectly shame any mother, especially not in public, and especially if you don’t know them or their situation.
In my circumstances, you didn’t, and you ruined the rest of my day with your passing comment. If you realised how down I felt while he was screaming, and while I was unable to make him feel better, you wouldn’t have made a comment at all. Or maybe you would, I don’t know.
If you have children yourself, you should know how it feels, and if not, count yourself lucky that you will have never been made to feel that way by a complete stranger.
I know it may be hard to believe, but minding your own business is a bloody fantastic solution to this.