Being a parent is tough work, rewarding, but tough. If you’re a parent, you know all about this. Kids spill, make noise, cry, yell and generally have a difficult time listening to instructions. They do learn eventually to do all the things adults want them to do. But it takes time. Most kids like to just be kids, especially when they’re 6.
My girls are ages 6 and 4. They’re doing such a good job following instructions and listening in school. They are polite and kind to their peers. While I would like to take credit for their overall awesomeness, I know I can’t. They have positive teachers and daycare providers, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends and grandparents all helping them learn right from wrong in this world.
They are lucky little girls.
Last week my little family attended a local Christmas concert. It was a casual event full of kids and adults of all ages. Half way through the event my husband had to leave, which meant I was left alone with two sugar-filled little girls. Not long after he left, my 6 year old, Ella started to get fidgety. She stood up and back down again. Her chair made noises, her coat and hat and every little movement seemed to make noises, too. I was gently telling her to be quiet but her sugar cookie high was starting to take effect.
After a few minutes a stranger leaned over and scolded my child. She used words like, “Little girl sit in your seat. Stop making noise. Be quiet!”
It may Ella shrink. It made me furious.
I turned around to glare at the woman again and again but the lights were off and I couldn’t see her face. I sat through the happy song full of Christmas cheer while the hairs on my neck began to rise. There was even a split second where I felt like biting this woman. I truly felt like a mama bear protecting her young from danger. I likely looked like it, too.
I wasn’t sure what to do. The angel on my shoulder was telling me to politely leave without making a scene. The devil on my shoulder was telling me to chomp.
The angel won. When the song was over I grabbed my girls and walked out of the theatre, giving one last glare to Mrs. Grumpy Pants on the way out. When I reached the doors, a meltdown ensued. My girls started to tear up, too. The holiday cheer was zapped as we made our way home, defeated and embarrassed.
To the woman who scolded my child, were you trying to help me? I generally like people, so I’m going to assume the answer to that question is yes. Unfortunately, your stern words made me feel foolish and inadequate.
Stranger woman, I want you to know I understand that kids can be annoyingly loud. I must have thought the same thing before I became a mom. But now I have empathy. I smile at the woman whose child is having a meltdown. I give out imaginary hugs and high fives to the lady who can’t get her excited little girl to sit still in church or in that grocery store cart. It’s tough to be a parent. It’s probably pretty tough to be a kid, too. It takes time to learn. I welcome discipline from teachers and daycare providers and people who have the best interest of my child in their heart. I don’t welcome discipline from you.
Next time you’re around a child who is making noise at a child friendly event, please listen to your own advice and keep your lip zipped.