I imagine that, at the beginning, the two-year old tantrum that was brewing probably didn’t even pass acknowledgement. The whines that were tearing through my patience like teeth on wool were probably some far off background noise to you as you chose which vase would suit the decor in your front room best.
I imagine that a wry smile crossed your face as the first strains of ‘I want Min Mowwwwwww’ entered into your shopping experience.
I imagine that a raised eyebrow or ‘oo-er’ mouth-shape probably passed your features as the tantrum upscaled and her lolly pop (a Minnie Mouse one, ironically) was launched in my direction.
You could have reacted in all kinds of ways. Most would ignore us, some would be a bit douchebaggy and tut loudly or do the ‘I don’t like you or your child’ stare.
You did neither of these.
You stepped off the path taking you to the kitchen utensils section, and instead came over to me, and said the simplest thing:
‘Take heart. At least she’s not 16. That’s when it gets really bad. You’re doing a great job. Don’t let it get to you’
And then you carried on your day as if you hadn’t just given me the verbal equivalent of a massive hug.
It’s hard being over here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not for one second complaining or ruing the day we set off on that plane. But it can be lonely. Not in the ‘I haven’t got anyone to hang around with type way’. (I don’t, by the way – so any Bergen County mums that fancy having a Brit mate, give me a shout. I make a good tea… I mean G&T)
I mean in the way where I dearly miss having people around me who know me, know BC, will just pick her up and take her away before I throw her away. Who I don’t have to answer the same old questions to; ‘She’s two’, ‘Near London’, ‘Beginning of August’, ‘No, sorry, I don’t really know Yeovil that well’ etc etc.
People who gave me verbal and physical hugs every day.
Anyway. *Puts away tiny violin* All I mean is that I had never appreciated how much you can make or break somebody’s day with a response.
And maybe you will never know how much you lifted me. Maybe you do? Maybe someone did it to you and you passed on the kindness – I know for sure that I will next time.
I had always been one for studiously looking the other way for fear of making my fellow-parent feel uncomfortable or awkward. Don’t worry, I know what you’re going through. Let me stare at this ghastly salmon-coloured cushion cover with all my concentration whilst I walk past so that you don’t feel like I’m being judgy.
Bloody idiot. She already feels uncomfortable and awkward – all she needs is for that nod of same-boatness. That look that says ‘Yeah, mine can be a dick too’
Let’s have some camaraderie here! All any of us are trying to do is get through the day, being a good parent. Sometimes not even that. Sometimes I will even settle for just not being a shit parent that day.
On this particular day, all I was trying to do was buy some new shoes and clothes for BC, ready for her first day at her new pre-school. I didn’t want to be judged for a slummy mummy before anyone gets to know me. And realises that I am, indeed, a slummy mummy. But at least they’ll know me by then and won’t judge as harshly.
And instead, I felt a little piece of me die as I stood there amongst the toddler socks and knickers (ps – don’t even get me started on potty training and where I keep finding poo’s). I’m not sure what it was that died in that instant, but I suspect it was my stiff upper lip. Because I felt my face gently start to sag as if it was slowly puddling into melted goo under the heat of the wrath that was my usually (relatively) pleasant child.
If you have kids you know for sure that you’ll have been there yourself… and if they haven’t put you through this yet, sorry, they will!
And if you don’t have kids – you yourself were that satanic brat that put your parents through this. Shame on you. Go and apologise.
So, all I ask is that if you’re out shopping, on the train, at a party and you hear some little shit royally kicking off; don’t be a twat about it. Just be decent.
And think yourself bloody lucky that you can walk away.