My husband and I were enjoying our lunch the other day when you came up to us mid-meal to tell us that that our daughter was “sweet and beautiful” and you appreciated us having such a quiet “well-behaved” baby. You made it a point to tell us that our baby had not, in fact, ruined your lunch and you were pleased with that. I know you meant well, you were complimenting us after all! But I’m afraid I must let you know that your “compliment” left a sour taste in our mouths.
Let me explain:
My daughter is one year old. I’m not sure you know much about children, and I’m inclined to think you don’t, but babies don’t actually know how to “behave”. They don’t even know how to communicate. Heck, she’s still learning to walk, chew properly, and drink from a sippy cup. Their worlds are severely limited to say the least. When you walked away my husband and I discussed how in 20 minutes, when she’s full and tired of sitting here, she will start screaming like a banshee.
See the thing is, you caught her at just the right time, on just the right day. Sometimes she is as quiet as a mouse and busy with her food or toy or people watching. Sometimes she is tired and has had enough for the day. The problem is, we cannot just stop our lives, or not eat, or not grocery shop, every single time she *might* get tired and fussy.
When she does get tired, I have a bag of tricks to distract her. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, and if it doesn’t work and she gets wildly upset, I will leave the restaurant so you can eat in peace.
But here’s the thing, my daughter is “sweet and beautiful” either way. Even if she was upset, and occasionally crying out and I scarfed down my burger as fast as humanly possible and bounced her around or tried to nurse her while waiting on the waitress to bring the check, what would you have done? I have wondered that since the moment you walked away from us. How would you have treated us if she had been upset? Would you have glared? Talked loudly about how annoyed you were? Come and told me how annoyed you were? Because I can promise those things would only add to my anxiety, which would in turn add to her anxiety.
In moments like that, when you’re in the grocery store or restaurant, or basically anywhere public, and you see a small child having a meltdown, the best way to handle it is not by saying cruel words and glares about how YOUR day was ruined, but with a kind smile and maybe a supportive “it happens.” That can make our day and give us the strength to keep bouncing that baby without having a meltdown of our own from the pressure of being expected to make a person who poops in their pants, “behave”. Or, you can handle it like this wonderful fellow mom blogger.
Parents of young children should not be ostracized from society because their child can be a ticking time bomb. Ideas like this are what add to Post-Partum depression and anxiety. Not to mention, the world does not revolve around you and other people do not exist with the goal to make you happy.
Please remember to come from a place of compassion and to have a little empathy the next time you see a child having a meltdown, and if you feel the need to compliment someone just stick to, “sweet and beautiful”.