On a very hot Wednesday morning this summer, we enteredthe elevator. My three year old had his shirt on backwards, again. My five year old was wearing a batman mask and his hair was disheveled, and little Bella had some marker stains on her face. As we squished into the small space, we were greeted by several other shoppers and then a lady with a frown on her face said to us:
“My oh my, someone forgot to wash your face. And you have your clothes on all wrong. Lady, you need to raise these children better. Don’t you care about your children?” She turned to another elderly lady and said “Young people these days just don’t know how to raise children.”
I am well aware; we did not look like a perfectly groomed bunch. Maybe it is unusual or wrong to others, but I prefer not to fuss over a backwards t-shirt and take away a three years old budding sense of “I can do it!” And the markers?
Well, I would like to think I am encouraging Bella to explore colors and sensations while making her creations. Is she really going to be damaged by a little green stain on her cheek?
I wasn’t terribly surprised but not really wanting to explain myself either, I just wished the lady a nice day. We left the elevator, hand in hand and the lady frowned even more. The truth though, as much as I believe in how I’m parenting and see that it seems to be working for us; the comment shook me a bit. Maybe this older lady had a point; maybe I should be stricter, scrub faces and fix shirts. Later I felt totally irked, what on earth makes someone think they can say something like this? Can't women, mothers, parents, people be supportive of each other?
On another day, after a long wait at the cashier, where several people had pointed out that Bella had no socks or shoes on, (this is a grave offense somehow in Europe that we keep committing) we stepped into the elevator and many people crammed right in as well. Right next to us was an elderly lady. She greeted all three children first and then me. With enthusiasm she started talking:
“You must be tired” I confess I cringed a bit and wondered if a lecture was to follow. “I was always tired, I have three sons, all grown with families of their own.” She offered. Let me tell you something.” I didn’t want any more lectures but we were trapped in the elevator, squished among shopping carts and people so I resisted the urge to quietly chant "lalalalala" and listened.
“I see you here sometimes, your children are always happy. I wish I would have been more relaxed and happy with my children like you seem to be. Keep enjoying your time with them because you can never get it back.” She went on, “Play with your children, love them and everything else will work itself out. These are the most special years of your life and of your children.”
Everyone in the elevator paused and smiled at us. I thanked the lady and wished her a nice day. Now, whenever I hear a negative comment, I think of this elderly lady and her wise words. It’s not that I was hearing anything new, it was just great to hear beautiful supportive words when I least expected them.
So, people often pass judgment and offer bad advice but have you ever received any good advice or wisdom in unexpected places?
Peace & Be Well,
Ariadne (aka Mudpiemama) has three children, she practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. She believes parents and childrenshould try to have fun everyday and love life.