OK, think back to your PPL (aka pre-parenthood-life). Chances are that back then you went to a restaurant or maybe even a grocery or department store, right? Now think back at somebody walking in with one or more little children and what you thought at that moment? I am pretty sure that at least for a fleeting moment the words “noise”, “crying” or “mess” came to your mind, right? Be honest, I will not hold it against you, I was there once, too, I judged.
You sit at a restaurant, waiting for your food to arrive and the host leads a family of four with a baby and a toddler into the room and seats them exactly across the aisle from you and you cringe. The baby is sleeping, so we are ok with that, but the toddler doesn’t want to sit in his high chair and he is starting a tantrum. Maybe because his mother doesn’t let him stab his sister with the knife, because she wouldn’t let him redecorate the dining room or use the salt and pepper shaker for target practice? Any which way, you get annoyed and hope that your food is getting here rather sooner or later, so you can wolf it down and get out of there before something serious happens. Yes, I judged them for not being able to keep their children under control and let them scream and protest and whatever else they did.
Or you are at the grocery store, pondering over which of the 25 different shades of coffee you would like to get, when a mom passes by dragging her three kids with her. She is trying her best to get the essentials while taking stuff out of her kids’ hands to put back on the shelf, sending them into a meltdown of epic proportions, yes, I used to judge that woman for not having her children under control as well.
As you probably know yourself by now, these are the situations that many dread as parents, because they expect pretty much these kind of judgements with the accompanying looks of condescension and not-understanding and now you shake your head at those people, who seem so narrow-minded, but hey, they do not know any better! Only once you have experienced it yourself as a parent, you know what is happening in the life of a toddler and that some of these situations are just plainly unavoidable. The reasons for something like that are as numerous as there are stars in the skies, be it not enough sleep, too much sleep, a bad day, too many new things to take in, because the sky is blue, the carrot is orange, why is there a foot attached to my leg, you name it, it can be it.
Take Nico as an example. He is usually really good at restaurants, but he gets distracted easily, because there is a lot going on and there are so many things to take in that he doesn’t usually see, so he is constantly on his feet, looking around, trying to see and he sometimes forgets to eat over the whole thing. We could make a big deal about him sitting down to eat, but with everything happening around him, this is a battle that we chose not to pick, because even though he stands on the banquet and looks around, he still eats and is quiet and that’s one of the many compromises you will make once you are a parent.
Admittedly, it is not always only the child that is at fault, since some parents do not set firm boundaries as to which behaviour is expected or required and thus enabling their children, but even if you have everything perfectly in place, things happen that are beyond your control, toddlers and kids are probably some of the most non-logical creatures on earth, so anything can happen.
So if you are still experiencing PPL (or have decided to cut out this part out of your life forever), or are in denial, do not condemn the parent, do not damn the child, it might just be you, who is oblivious to things in life that are inevitable and not “them”… I am now one of “them” and wouldn’t want it to be any other way and if people have a problem with it – well, that’s their problem, not mine! I have completely different problems, but that’s not the point here… Share your experiences with us and leave us your comments, we’d love to read them!