Trying on clothes at the store, a mother was in the fitting room next to me was having a conversation with her son who was asking for a toy.
"We just bought you a toy yesterday, I told you we weren't buying anything for you today."
"But I want it! Please mommmmmmyyyy!"
"No, I told you no! Stop being such a baby."
"Mommy, just one toy I want it!!!!"
"Stop being so naughty, I will never take you out again! You are being ungrateful! As soon as we get home I'm taking that toy way from you!"
Uncontrollable wailing from the child. She berated him for five more minutes.
I judged her, mother to mother, I judged her. I thought, hey, the lesson you are trying to impart could be done in a kinder way. A low voice, with a cuddle, speaking at his level, emphasizing the lesson not the anger. The anger and the bullying emanated through the change room's doors. I wanted to interrupt, knock on the door and say in the nicest way possible, can I help? Shall I watch him while you try clothes on? You seem stressed. What I can do to help?
I watched her carefully as she emerged. Two children, one quietly sobbing boy. She was staunch, propelling herself out of the area with a single-minded determination to ignore him and get out of the store. It would have been impossible to intervene to "help" because she would feel judged, worried that I might think she was dangerous to her own children, somehow in league with real child abusers.
I have been a terrible parent at times. Far lower than my own hopes for my children. In my mind -- terrible. I have really yelled at my kids, scary angry yelling. Once after my son screamed, bit me and head-butted me as I tried to put him in his car seat, I grabbed his chubby little face and growled nose to nose at him. He screamed in fear. I took a time out. I held his hand while he cried. I stroked his cheek and said sorry.
I hope that if I was being horrible that someone would intervene. If I was losing it in a car park, yelling at my kids, I do hope that I would get disapproving looks, maybe another mother approaching me and saying "can I help?" and me being able to take a break without social services being called. I've been thinking about judgy moms.
I wish we could all be Big Mother instead of Big Brother.
Photo Credit: growwear.
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