Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Go away, sweetheart!

Since I have a horrible, re-occurring case of over-share-itis, I simply must blog about this.

Last night was Sara's weekly dance class. (On a side note, we got to go in and watch their tap routine - C.U.T.E!!! And Sara inherited Robert's rhythm for choreographed dances, but that's another blog post entirely)

Once class was over, Sara and I were walking out to the car with Megan and her daughter. As we prepared to head in different parking lot directions, a lady comes out of the building holding a toddler that was throwing one heck of a fit.

Dude. Been there, done that. It's awful when it happens to you, and it's almost as awful when you see someone else going through it.

There are three basic reactions available for such an event:

1) Ignore it completely
2) Empathy/sympathy
3) Judgement

# 3 is the one I dreaded the most because it generally came with a side dish of commentary and a garnish of holier-than-thou-ism - often with a dollop of eye roll.

If you've had children, chances are pretty good that you've survived a tantrum (or a couple thousand). The public ones were the worst!  If you have children and you've never experienced a public tantrum consider yourself EXTREMELY fortunate and pray that nothing changes. And you might want to immediately start writing a parenting book, because I would LOVE to know the secret to that.

No, really.

I could see how upset this poor lady was and I felt her pain. Sara and I said goodbye to Megan and Z, and went to our car. It turns out the lady parked a couple of spaces away from me. Her child was still screaming bloody murder and was putting up a fight about getting in the car.

Been there too, honey. No bueno!

I ask Sara to get in our car, buckle up, and close the door. I walk over to the other care to see if there's anything I can do to help. From personal experience, every now and then a random act of kindness truly seemed to make the difference between sanity and a 5150. I had no intention of passing judgement, offering advice, or interfering. I just wanted to know if there was anything I could do to help her in any way.

I approached the car just as something happened between the mom and child. The child was in the backseat and the mom had turned around to say something and I didn't see what happened, but the look on her face changed to a pretty scary face and she grabbed the child and drug him into her lap in the front seat. I had my hand raised to knock on her window when she saw me. She wasn't happy. She rolled down her window and we had the following conversation:

Me: Hi. Look, I don't mean to bother you, but I just wondered if I could help....
Me: I know. We've all been there and I just thought...
Her: SWEETHEART, JUST GO AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
She throws up her hand towards me as in 'talk to the hand...'

Window rolls up. Her face is still REALLY angry. I feel like an idiot.

I slink away and get in my car. From where we were parked, I could see her talking to her child, and wiping off his face, so hopefully everything was okay.

I mean, I get it. I've been that angry at my kids before for the same exact behavior.Many, many, many, many, many times did I have to drag one or both of them kicking and screaming out of somewhere. It's horrible, as are the comments about my parenting and the dirty looks I would get.

The few times someone said something kind to me, it made a world of difference. If nothing else, it gave me a second to not be so in the situation, if that makes sense. And every time that was the case, going back to the situation didn't seem nearly as awful as a few seconds before.

But I'm not like everyone else, and everyone else is not like me. And I felt foolish for trying to help when it wasn't wanted. So, lesson learned. After all, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, right?!?


Kaitlyn S. C Hatch said...

It's all about timing. But I don't think it should discourage you in the future. The kindness of strangers is one of those things that makes the world something to marvel at.

Brooke said...

I agree that timing is the key. And more than likely, it would have gone better had I said something before she got in her car. I probably startled her - some strange woman tapping on her window in a very, very bad moment. It was a good reminder for me about the delicate balance of helpful versus intrusive, you know?