A few weeks ago I was queuing to pay at the tills in a shop in Brighton, and a couple of people in front of me was a lady with a bright pink pushchair with a bow on it. She was jerking the pushchair forwards and backwards and glaring at the baby in it. Now i’m really no expert at guessing how old babies are, but I don’t think her child was any more than a year old, he was old enough to hold a bottle that she thrust at him, but I reckon was more like 9/10 months old. He was grumbling, not even crying, and not loudly. Nobody was paying her or the crying any attention at all. She then started up with ‘HUSH NOW YOU’RE BEING SILLY’ and similar. The baby by this point had stopped drinking, and to me sounded like he had wind or a bad belly (going from the little knowledge I have gained from Athena's cries) and then it was her turn at the till. She literally shoved the buggy into the counter and shouted ‘SHUT UP FOR GODS SAKE YOU LITTLE SOD’ at the baby. I was gobsmacked. As soon as the mum had wheeled her poor baby away the lady behind me (who had 2 young children) said to me ‘that was awful wasn't it, I cant believe she acted like that in public, how does she treat him at home? I think he just wanted a fart’. I didn’t have Athena with me so she wasn't even mentioning it just because I was a mum too, it was so horrible to watch she obviously had to express her disgust. I agreed, but then it got me thinking, how do we know what went on before? We were both so quick to jump to conclusions, which I then felt bad about. Though I fear in this instance we were correct, for a couple of reasons.
Firstly ,the poor little boy was in a bright pink buggy (definitely a boy as he had a little flat cap on and was dressed in a waistcoat etc) so my gut instinct was that the mum wanted a girl and didn’t get one. I know that the reality could be that actually her own buggy had broken and she had borrowed this one, or she was using it from a previous baby but judging by her pink velour tracksuit and big gold hoop earrings, I think not. Secondly I saw her just up the road when I left the shop and she was with another mum and they were surrounded by about 7 snotty nosed kids (some looked like they should have been in school, and this was a Monday morning!) throwing their rubbish at a passing bus, being completely ignored by the two mums who were both smoking right over the boy in the pink buggy, who was still grizzling but being ignored. Thirdly, the baby was so small that it couldn’t have done anything wrong on purpose to deserve being told off, and anyone who shouts at something that cannot defend itself is a meany, to put it mildly!
So even though I feel like my instincts were correct in this little scenario when I was walking away from them it made me think, what if in a few years Athena has a terrible temper tantrum, and I choose to deal with it by having firm words with her? (though obviously I won’t call had a sod!) What will people think about me? People generally go with their initial reaction to a scenario, as of course they don’t know of the events leading up to what they see.
In the past I have been very quick to judge people/scenarios, but I think that now I am a mama I’ve started to think twice about things I see when kids and parents are concerned. For example, I’ve seen kids have huge hissy fits at the hotel where I work before, where the parents either shouted/ignored/dragged them away… but now I’ll think twice before I mentally judge them, for all I know the child could have ADHD or another behavioural issue (are you allowed to say ‘issue’?)
In the name of complete honesty however, I feel I must add that even if the woman hadn’t been shouting at her poor baby that I would've judged her on her bright pink velour tracksuit, huge gold earrings and willingness to smoke all over her baby.
Has anyone experienced a similar situation, or been on the other side? please share your thoughts…