Google+ Authentic Parenting: Elevator Advice and Wisdom on Parenting (Rerun)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Elevator Advice and Wisdom on Parenting (Rerun)

Through trial and error, I have figured out how to Grocery shop with three children in tow, but honestly, it is not always easy. In our new town, the three nearby Supermarkets all happen to be located inside large shopping centers. Getting in and out these supermarkets requires an elevator or escalator ride plus walking by dozens of other stores with shiny display windows. Usually I try to be organized and efficient and feel lucky that mostly, I buy what I need and leave with all my hair still on my head and tantrum free. However, I noticed that our required elevator rides while shopping, have become a place I invariably receive at least one bit of advice, some comment and occasionally admonishment from another shopper.

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,

MudpieMama

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.



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6 comments:

  1. What a great anecdote!
    I always love your guest posts here!

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  2. MomAgain@40 - thank you for your very kind words!! It's always great to know someone is reading :)

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  3. This was exactly what I needed to read this morning. I only have one child, but have always had people talk to me in public and parenting advice seems to be my newest need (according to those I see out and about).

    I also recently had a lovely experience with a fellow mom after a major grocery store meltdown that let me know I am not alone and as many frowns as I might see, there are also mom's out there in solidarity, not judging me, and glad for once it is not them managing a meltdown.

    Thanks for the post!

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  4. Great post! I remember a situation where I was in a beauty parlor with my mom and daughter and she wanted to breastfeed (she was around 12 months I guess) and a relatively old lady sitting in from of me utered the famous words: "you still nurse her?". I said yes and was waiting the ever so common speach about dependency of the child and imprisonment of the mother. When she opened her mouth, i heard: "Good for you! I breastfed my daughter until she was 4 and it was the best for us!" I confess it was just what I needed to hear :)

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  5. I am crying over here. Why? (Postpartum hormones still?) Not sure exactly, but I think it's because underlying the whole story and other people's just like it is this deep need for connection and support that mothers feel. Particularly, I am guessing, in our modern/Western setup where everything seems dependent on one or two people for the most part.

    I feel weary of worrying what other people think if I give my kid more free range than is common when we are out in public to explore and ask questions and engage with her world. Some folks just see how cute she is. Others want to remark on her intelligence. But there is usually at least one person who I can feel is looking at me with this "how/why can you let your child do that, this permissiveness is the problem with children today, maybe if i keep staring at her she will feel bad enough to stop her child climbing on the perfectly climbable window sills of a large bay of windows overlooking a very fascinating road with lots of trucks and cars and green and red lights and......" This world is my child's "school" of life, and I want her to have the freedom and space of safety to learn and engage in it. I DO NOT WANT TO FEEL GUILTY. I am working to let it go....

    I work hard not to judge others. I find myself almost as quickly compassionate with parents exhibiting behaviors I hope not to do as I am judgmental (though I haven't stopped the thoughts popping up....just like the racist thoughts we all have but maybe don't acknowledge, our brains are wired to a degree but it's about taking the steps afterwards that helps negate the effects of the wiring.) These people who glare at me have a right to their opinion, but I wish that folks like the woman who lectured you would consider keeping their mouths shut or finding something compassionate to say.

    ~sheila

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am crying over here. Why? (Postpartum hormones still?) Not sure exactly, but I think it's because underlying the whole story and other people's just like it is this deep need for connection and support that mothers feel. Particularly, I am guessing, in our modern/Western setup where everything seems dependent on one or two people for the most part.

    I feel weary of worrying what other people think if I give my kid more free range than is common when we are out in public to explore and ask questions and engage with her world. Some folks just see how cute she is. Others want to remark on her intelligence. But there is usually at least one person who I can feel is looking at me with this "how/why can you let your child do that, this permissiveness is the problem with children today, maybe if i keep staring at her she will feel bad enough to stop her child climbing on the perfectly climbable window sills of a large bay of windows overlooking a very fascinating road with lots of trucks and cars and green and red lights and......" This world is my child's "school" of life, and I want her to have the freedom and space of safety to learn and engage in it. I DO NOT WANT TO FEEL GUILTY. I am working to let it go....

    I work hard not to judge others. I find myself almost as quickly compassionate with parents exhibiting behaviors I hope not to do as I am judgmental (though I haven't stopped the thoughts popping up....just like the racist thoughts we all have but maybe don't acknowledge, our brains are wired to a degree but it's about taking the steps afterwards that helps negate the effects of the wiring.) These people who glare at me have a right to their opinion, but I wish that folks like the woman who lectured you would consider keeping their mouths shut or finding something compassionate to say.

    ~sheila

    ReplyDelete

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