Dear Strangers Who Stared at My Child Having a Meltdown,
Maybe you are a parenting perfectionist and you surely wouldn’t have a child acting like mine and you know everything there is to know about parenting and children. I’m sure your judgement regarding my situation after a thorough observation (30 seconds – 1 minute tops) provided an understanding of the many interacting variables associated with caregiver-child relationships and interaction patterns. I know this is quite an assumption but here’s my rationale. I would assume if you are one to judge, stare, and give unsolicited advice then you must be an expert.
Here’s the skinny on a recent experience. While on vacation, hubby, myself, and my in-laws took the kids to a family friendly entertainment spot. My two and half-year old boy is a very active, hands-on, short-attention span little firecracker. He was on sensory overload and after we passed a few attractions that he was too small for, we found rides just his size. Hubby went to get tickets while we
patiently impatiently watched the rides spin and talked about which ones he would ride. Hubby returned with no tickets – the ticket booth had unknown issues. Quick intervention we headed into the arcade for a couple of games. Time to peacefully leave, so we thought.
Toddler E had a meltdown, you know the kind with flailing arms, loud crying, kicking, stiff body, two people to put him back in the stroller kind of toddler tantrum. This was the first tantrum of this magnitude in a very public place and top it off with a loooong 15-minute walk back to the car while Toddler E cried. Oh the stares, glares, gasps, head turning, torturous walk back to the car. If I was a turtle, I would have hidden in my shell.
I’ll admit before I had children, I had ideas of how I would handle certain situations and I had a rough draft parenting framework in my head. Everyone around me had children and when they shared stories I soaked it all in and as a teacher I was surrounded by kids with a multitude of behaviors. Even still, it was eye-opening once I had my own children. And maybe I did judge but I can assure you I do not judge now. I’ve learned to openly listen and be understanding to my other parenthood friends. Parenting can be hard, messy, and far from predictable.
So I sincerely ask all the parenting perfectionists who stared at me and my child to share the magic solution with us non-experts who are doing our best to discipline but not discourage, teach but not overwhelm, understand but not be a pushover, provide life experiences but not inconvenience others, and often times make decisions in split seconds with an audience.
And to all the others still
climbing treading the parental expertise ladder with me, I will not judge when I see your child having a tantrum – I will say a prayer for your continued strength, patience, and love.
With Love, Erin