Opinions are like…. Well, you know the rest.
For my latest brain dump, I take you to the wonderful world of opinions whilst parenting young children.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that people have opinions on all topics, not just children and not just young children, but in this instance, I’m going to stick with the area of parenting toddlers in shopping centres and what that means in the big, kind of ugly world of unsolicited opinions.
I was standing at the deli of Coles recently, with my 7 year old in tow. So, we would call that a pretty safe age bracket. We are fortunately through the toddler tantrum stages (note the plural, because it went on for long enough that I am sure it couldn’t have just been one stage, but at least a couple) but also not far away enough that I have forgotten that feeling of my skin getting hotter, my voice getting shakier and my brain thinking “what do I do here, this kid won’t stop crying over *insert, anything at all here* and now these people are all watching me” So, when I am around a parent now in this situation I try and throw an understanding smile their way, and then be on my way.
While standing waiting to order, I heard the dreaded “Oh look at you with that silly dummy” and as I slowly turned my head, cringing as I did, I saw the face of a Mum drop. Her beautiful child sitting happily in the seat of the trolley, minding her own business and then along it came… The unsolicited opinion, to knock the wind out of this unassuming Mum. The stranger who said it may have meant no harm, but it did just that. It took this Mum who was no doubt completing her 100th task of the day, from going about her business to doubting her own decisions. The standard response that I clearly remember myself saying “I know, but it’s been a big day and she is tired etc etc” started coming out of this Mum’s mouth and it just made me feel so many emotions.
So, while I don’t want to criticize this stranger I do really wish that we could all go about trying a bit of kindness, rather than offering opinions that are actually quite unhelpful. Maybe a “you’re doing a great job” or even just a friendly smile goes a long way sometimes. While I am at it, to the Mum’s of little ones trying to complete the food shopping, if you ever see someone with a dumb smile on their face while your child is having a moment, just know they are probably thinking “I remember those days" and that you are doing a great job.
Also, if the Mum from Coles is reading this, the days you are living at the moment are long and repetitive. Your daughter looked happy and loved and as far as I’m concerned, that is successful parenting to me. Keep up the wonderful work.