Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Hey lady in the cafe: Not everyone thinks your kid is awesome!

Yesterday I sat in a cafe with my husband. A little kid came right up to our table, banging on it, then stood there staring at us. Dave kind of smiled and said the obligatory, "Oh, hello!"

I didn't engage with the kid at all. I don't feel so hot. The mother was sitting directly behind me. You know how some parents talk really loudly to their kids as if the kid has a PHD, but the kid is only about twenty months old and just started walking? Why do parents do that? Do they just want the people around them to listen to them talking to their kid? I don't understand.

I didn't move my head to turn around and smile at the mother, because honestly? I wanted her kid to leave us alone. The kid then bangs his toy on the table, pulls the spare chair out .... and sits up next to me and my husband.

Oh excuse me, did somebody call a toddler business meeting? How remiss of me to forget.

I sat stony-faced and unmoving. The mother then taps me - hard, on the shoulder. And says,

"Do you hate little people?"

I said, "Pardon?" Because it sounded like she asked me if I hated little people! She said it again.

"Do you hate little people?"

I turned to look at her for the first time.

"No I don't hate little people. I just dropped my own children off to school and daycare and now I'm trying to have breakfast with my husband."

I take my children out to restaurants and cafes all the time. It's a bit stressful, because I'm always making sure they are well-behaved and not annoying. My kids have as much right to be there as anybody else, but within the constraints of reasonable behaviour. I do not let them run around, shout, or misbehave. I'm a big believer in socialising our children within communities and society, it takes a village and all that. It also takes common courtesy.

The lady behind me "tried" to get her kid away from our table. "Ohhhhh, well THAT is different then. Come on, sweetheart. Something's going on here that you don't understand yet! These people are trying to have some time together!"

The kid didn't move, and sat there for about another two minutes. Two minutes is a long time when you're trying not to lose your shit - and I'm not talking about the toddler.

I didn't cause a scene or say anything else because I was so angry it would have all come out wrong. Asking if I hated little people was really shaming and aggressive. On a good day, I might have humoured this kid and asked him what his name is. I sat sipping my coffee trying to answer Dave's questions while this mother's child sat with us, banging on the table with his toy, and playing with our sugar container.

I wanted to tell that mother a thing or two. For a start, I like that her son's toy was a pink baby doll. Major props right there. But stop talking to him like he's an adult. He's not. Also, not all people are going to be as enraptured with her kid as she is. Maybe some people just want to sit down and talk to their husbands in peace. Maybe some people are worried sick about their stepdads who are lying in a hospital bed miles away. Maybe just look after your kid properly.

I don't hate little people. I don't hate anyone. But some big people need a lesson in boundaries and manners.

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Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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