This morning you hurled a lot of opinionated, judgmental remarks my way.
My son was standing on a stool in the middle of the platform at story time at Barnes and Noble, poised and ready to jump off – while I stood 15 feet away chatting with a friend. Yes, it wasn’t the best of circumstances. I was not on top of my child’s behavior perhaps as much as I should have been.
You accused my son of “wrecking the place” and me of viewing story time as a “babysitters.” You told me that I wasn’t taking care of him like I should.
I know what it looked like. A child misbehaving and a mom not paying attention. A mom not doing her job and taking care of her responsibilities.
And in that moment, perhaps there was truth to that.
But here’s what you didn’t see:
You didn’t see the 1.245 minutes where he sat quietly and listened to the story at the very beginning. That’s actually a first for him. And we haven’t done story time in months because we couldn’t accomplish that much of a feat. So today? Wow, I was proud of him.
And the moments where he sat but was being noisy and singing songs? Those were songs that I taught him over time and was proud that he knew them – even though story time may not have been the most apropos time to sing them.
You were probably too frustrated at the fact that he was blocking your grandchild’s view to even acknowledge the fact that he could point to the elephant and knew exactly what it was – something that his daddy and I taught him.
After we left, you didn’t hear him tell Mommy that he had to go potty, something else that we have been working on for months. In fact, he did it twice today – a HUGE break through in our potty-training progress.
You didn’t hear him after I changed his poopy diaper, as he hugged me with all of his might and said “Thanks for getting my butt cleaned, Mommy.”
You didn’t see all the times I was paying attention, all the times I corrected him and his lip trembled as he responded with “I’m sorry, Mommy.”
There’s so much hard, painstaking work and progress that both me and my son have made – even just today in the hours since you cast your judgment our way. But you didn’t see it.
Being three is hard work. And so is being a mom of a three year old.
Dear Judgmental Woman at Story Time, can I tell you about some other people I met today?
There was a lady in Food Lion who gently told me that my son was halfway down the next aisle when my back was turned to look at a clearance rack, trying to make a decision about what to purchase. She didn’t cast judgment – she simply informed me that there was a potential problem because I wasn’t aware. And she cast a sympathetic smile my way.
(You see I actually don’t mind being made aware about potential problems with my son when I am distracted – I’m only one person and can’t watch him 60 seconds a minute 60 minutes an hour. Sometimes I have to shop and have conversations with people! I appreciate people who can make me aware when my son is having issues or causing a disturbance while still being gracious and sympathetic.)
Then there was the cashier at Food Lion. She praised both me and my son for how helpful he was in pushing his own cart of items and placing them on the belt. Even though he wasn’t doing everything “right” – she praised our attempts (while holding tight to the eggs to make sure he didn’t get his hands on them, of course). And she didn’t even make a fuss when I had to leave my items for a few moments to go help him put his cart away 50 feet away.
And then there was an employee at Target who let my son help stock shelves because he wanted to be helpful. He put things in the wrong place and even pulled the packaging off of an item, but she just told him thank you for his efforts.
Dear Judgmental Woman at Story Time, I really wish that you could read this. I wish that this would make you think about what moms and strong-willed, active toddlers have to go through. I wish that the next time you go to story time and see a three-year-old boy about to jump off a stool while his mom isn’t paying attention that you could engage the boy and try to encourage him down with kindness – or maybe you could go over to his mom with graciousness and laugh as you tell her that her son is in a slightly precarious situation and might need to be rescued. Or maybe, just maybe, you could do nothing and enjoy the view of a boy who loves life and has energy coming out of his ears – and say a prayer for his mommy who obviously has her hands full.
The Mom Who Wasn’t Paying Attention to Her Misbehaving Son at Story Time