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If you haven’t got anything nice to say…

I’m a mum to a very strong-minded 4-year-old boy. I love that he’s confident and I love that he has his own mind, but my goodness, we lock horns regularly! Don’t get me wrong, we are the best of friends and of anyone I know, my son ‘gets me’. I think we are a bit too alike at times and because of this, our confrontations can be spectacular (think London NYE fireworks). When I say ‘best of friends’, I don’t mean that I’m one of those mums that don’t discipline their child/ children because we’re ‘friends’ or ‘best mates’… quite the opposite. I’m happy to be the fun, crazy mum until he crosses a line. When this happens, he needs to be given a time out or be spoken to firmly. It’s part of being a good responsible parent, even if it does drive you to drink of an evening.

Over the past year, I have lost count how many embarrassing incidents I’ve had whilst out. A number of them have made my blood boil and I was reminded of them recently as they’ve come up in chats with friends over the festive holidays. Yes, Christmas does turn a child into a monster! I’m sure those with children are more than aware of how hyperactive, over-tired and insane our little angelic ones become. And if you have more than one child, I salute you, as I am driven up the wall and round the bend and I only have the one!

But I’m not talking about the festive period… I’m talking about those times that you go to the shop for some bread and milk and you spend the time it would take to do a full months shop and then some!  All because your little darling has hurled themselves on the floor and screamed bloody murder. Cue ‘the Daddy voice’ we call it. After all, when in public, you don’t want to seem like you let your child get away with murder, even though secretly at home they may manage to wangle their way out of trouble with the flutter of an eyelash or by saying the right thing, at just the right time.  Pick your battles and all that jazz!

So, my biggest gripe are those parents who look down their noses at you in public when little Billy or Sally are at their most horrific. Like their snotty kids have never shown them up in public, because the sun clearly shines out of their backsides! If they haven’t, well… chances are they’re probably babies and still gurgling, cooing and generally being cute. Well… I have news for you mama, you’re in for a shock if you think that it stays like that forever! As much as I loved the perfect baby stage, I don’t miss being thrown up on!

Firstly, have you ever thought how embarrassing this must be for the parent involved? Do you think that she’s happy her toddler/ infant is screaming and drawing attention to her and the unfortunate situation? In short, it’s mortifying! Tutting and whispering to your friend whilst you watch the drama unfold is not nice, nor is it helpful. Comments like ‘I would never let my little Johnny behave like that’ or throwing dirty looks, judging that mother/ father is just ignorant!

My son, like me,  is very high energy and I have many, many examples I could share. My most upsetting day came when I took him to a class. He loved doing active classes before he started school. One day, not long before he started school, I took him to a dance class which he loved and hadn’t done for a while due to one reason or another. He was by far the biggest boy there as he’s tall for his age but saying that, he was probably the oldest there too.  That day, he played up from the moment he got there. He was cross when the teacher didn’t choose him for an activity, he was cross when someone got the blue scarf and he didn’t and as a result he had constant mini meltdowns when things didn’t go his way. Now, although he is prone to the odd tantrum, he’s not much of a cry baby, however, this day, he kept crying every time something didn’t go his own way.

The class had at last 15-20 mums and mainly young toddlers (some had babies). The looks I got from some mums were just scathing and I was so embarrassed. As a result, I found myself being really firm with him, more so than usual as I felt I was being judged. Being reasonably used to these public outbursts, I took the time to make sure I wasn’t over reacting and noticed all of the mums that had given me dirty looks or tutted, were sat there with a baby just about walking.

The tuts I could take until I noticed this one mum who felt the need to eyeball my son constantly for about five minutes straight which made my blood boil. I regret not having the confidence to be more bold and ask her if she wanted a picture. She couldn’t have been more obvious. I felt tears well up in my eyes and needless to say, I left the class early, telling my son off as we went.

Anyway, my point to this story is that, when I got home, it turned out he was poorly and was running a temperature, so there was more to it than met the eye, yet people felt the need to judge. Well, that explained the out of character crying and constant irritation at his surroundings. Then I started to feel like the worst mum in the world as I was so firm with him at the class… but I didn’t want to seem like a ‘bad mother’. What was I to do in this situation?! The day passed and as I sat down with a much-needed glass of wine, I realised I wasn’t calming at all! I was getting angrier and angrier at these mothers who felt the need to judge me based on my son’s behaviour that day. I posted a little message on the local mum’s group saying that people should remember that when they see a tantrumming child, they should be more sympathetic, rather than judgemental and that sometimes there’s more going on than they know about. The response was overwhelmingly supportive and one comment stood out in particular. The lady said that all children do it (which they do), and sometimes, there doesn’t even need to be anything else going on, they’re just children, pushing boundaries and it’s all part of growing up. My God, she was so right…

So to all those people who have judged someone based on their child’s behaviour – shame on you! We are just mums doing the best for our children and no one is perfect. Yes, there’re bound to be exceptions to this, but overall, that struggling mum or dad might just need an encouraging smile. Be nice, and if you have a baby, remember that they too will grow up and you will be shown up and mortified, possibly on a regular basis if you get a little live wire, like me. After all, it’s best he gets it out of his system now, whilst it’s acceptable. I’m not sure throwing a tantrum when you’re in your twenties is going to go down very well. The boss would certainly have something to say about a grown man kicking and screaming in the office. YouTube famous for all the wrong reasons! 😉

Is it any wonder we mums/ dads end up feeling mentally bruised and battered. It’s a hard job being a mum/ dad and sometimes someone needs to stand up and say “you know what? You’re an amazing mum/dad and you deserve that pint of gin!” and this is my compliment to you! Keep on plodding on! If you have a child that’s happy, loves you and loves life… What more do you want? Other than more sleep, maybe?

Although he can be a little nightmare at times, I love my boy. He’s so affectionate and polite (when he wants to be). He’s super intelligent and has a HUGE personality, which although incredibly irritating at times, makes him who he is. I love and envy that he has so much confidence. Yes, this might get him into trouble sometimes (a lot), but overall, I would never try and take that confidence from him – I wouldn’t change him for the world – even when he’s telling me off for not buying him the latest Star Wars toy at the top of his voice, like he owns me!  I try to help him channel his energy in a positive way and if I can’t, I’m there to support him through the difficult times. Being a parent is so much more than just disciplining your child. It’s loving them, nurturing them and teaching them right from wrong.

Anyway, rant over… My Dad has always said “If you haven’t anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Published inFamilyLife

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