It’s like Groundhog Day and like Bill Murray’s character I’m a slow learner, haters gonna hate, judgers gonna judge.
We all have a parenting ideal and pre-children we think it’s going to be so easy to set boundaries, be consistent, show them who’s boss and be the perfect parent. Then real life intervenes and you suddenly realise that you would do anything for the ability to finish a sentence. Going to the loo alone seems an impossibility and you question how it’s possible for a creature who purportedly needs 15 hours sleep seems able to get by on 3. We’ve all been there but apparently it’s easy to forget.
Take this afternoon for example, my child had a meltdown and I rewarded him by buying him a toy car.
<BUZZ> We have a winner! Unfit Mother of the Year 2017
You see we’d decided to buy a little RC car but when getting to the checkout, we discovered that the reason it was reduced was the remote control was missing. So what we were about to purchase was effectively a flimsy, over-priced, slightly bigger than a Matchbox car. I said no and we walked away (but not far). No.4 wasn’t amused by the lack of car and he made his feelings felt by screaming (and he has an amazing set of lungs, he has to to be heard over his brothers). Red faced, arched backed, limb flinging, A-star, premium tantrum.
So I did the usual public parenting.
Me: It’s okay darling, the cars broken. We don’t want a broken car do we? Ooh look at those pretty…<scrambles wildly for object of distraction>…bras over there.
No. 4 (Not even pausing for breath): “CAARRRRRR!”
Me: No, no…its okay, look take my hand and we’ll go (as quickly as possible).
No. 4 (Free fall of snot and spit soaking front of his top): Waaaaaaaahhhhhh!
Me (knowing a hopeless situation when I see one): Okay, look we’ll just go and queue up again and see if we can ask the nice lady for the car, shhhhhh.
No. 4 (Couldn’t give a shit what I’m saying): Caarrr!
So I carry him back to the tills and wait (an eternity) for the two frowning women in front of me to be served. The entire time No. 4 screams, sobs and arches in my arms until it’s finally our turn to be served.
Me: Turns out the remote control aspect isn’t the deciding factor in our purchase.
Assistant (adjusts bitch face from mild to monumental): Hmm
Me: So £5 was it?
Assistant (Looking down nose at dirty, sweaty, red faced child still tantrumming in my arms):…Yes
And that was the sum total of our conversation. I’ve been here before, I know when I’m being indulged, I know when I’m being admired and I certainly know when I’m being judged. This was the latter.
What they didn’t know was this car was an almost exact replica of the car my husband drives. They didn’t know that all his cars are chipped and have wheels missing from 3 previous
uncareful owners. They didn’t know that he’d been to this shop twice before and wanted the car but it was too expensive. They didn’t know that he’d been in the garden all morning and then walked around 3 different shops without complaint.They didn’t know I’d unexpectedly found the £5 note in my wallet and wanted to reward his good behaviour. They didn’t know him and they didn’t know me.
Yet they knew enough to know I was doing a bad job and felt compelled to let me know through passive aggressive glances and silences.