This is a post which I have been wanting to write for a while now. It is a somewhat sensitive and well versed topic amongst most moms, which I have tried to turn into a humorous one, since we all at some point or the other have experienced ALL of these situations. So here goes.
Photo credit: www.nytimes.com
There are many times that we want to say something we notice, to a fellow mom, but we end up internalizing it and don't say it out loud. "Hey, your kid is standing dangerously close to the edge; you may want to pick him up" "Your nanny is swinging your son a bit too high" "I think your daughter is trying to stick a marble up her nose and you are watching her do it" "No, it is not cute to watch your son eat food from someone else's table."
We normally don't end up saying these things because we don't want to be seen as 'that mom who looks down her nose at everyone else' or 'that mom who criticized someone else's child'. How do you sound helpful and not judgmental? So we think twice and keep our thoughts to ourselves or maybe even say it to others we are with, but never to the mom directly. Motherhood has made us all, that much more sensitive!
Let's take a look at some of the situations where we can all agree, we want to say something out loud to other moms!
1. The Bragger
First and foremost, every mom thinks her child is the cutest in the world. I do too. Each mom feels her child is the smartest, most well dressed, most well behaved and in general, perfect! In general, we all think our kids are baby geniuses. We wouldn't be normal mothers if we didn't feel that way, right? But we THINK it. I say it to my husband, mother in law, parents, sisters etc. But I draw the line there. So when we hear some moms (maybe not consciously) brag openly about their child, who is the reincarnation of an angel and an image of complete perfection, it makes other moms want to only pretend to listen. This is where the comparison starts. "My child started sleeping through the night at 3 months. Your's still doesn't?" "I am so surprised that my child is already speaking full sentences!" "I don't think you are spending enough time with your child, so maybe that is why there is speech delay" and so on. Needless to say, this is a situation where other moms, in order to avoid an unpleasant situation, just say something diplomatic and walk away. Some want to say more.
2. The Restaurant Goer
You are out for Sunday brunch with family, at a family style restaurant. When your child is with you, more often than not, it is easier to go to a child-friendly place where space is abundant and kids can run around freely and enjoy themselves. The other tables without families don't get disturbed and everyone has an enjoyable boozy/non-boozy Sunday. Then there are those restaurants which are not exactly family friendly and business lunches take up most of the space. But there are still some families interspersed here and there so it is inevitable that there will be kids running around trying to entertain themselves. There are situations where kids are running around AND touching food on someone else's table, lying on the floor because they weren't given something, running into waiters causing them to spill their food and more. Our first thought would be "they are kids; these things are bound to happen." But here is the clincher - many times, their moms don't react at all! They look at the kids proudly and continue to eat and drink, not once saying "behave yourself" or "be quiet and come sit down". What do you as a mom and an onlooker, feel like saying then? Do you keep quiet?
3. The Frequent Flier
TV ads are meant to create wants in people and then turn those wants into needs. For all the Indian moms - I am sure most of you would have seen the gaana.com ad on a plane, where a child starts crying and the mom immediately plays loud music on her phone to distract the child. The rest of the passengers on the plane also start dancing and singing. If only reality were like that. Reality on the other hand is the extreme opposite where airlines have made certain rows 'child free zones', making it that much more difficult for moms to be comfortable on flights. Many people take TV ads literally - I have been on flights where moms play music loudly (without headphones) for their child in hopes of entertaining them, not taking into account the disturbance being caused. Many of our experiences have been with either kids continuously kicking seats from behind or, kids dancing up and down in their seats seeking attention, with no reaction from the mom. Sometimes you wonder - how is there no response? Planes are closed quarters filled with other tired moms or business travellers wanting some space to catch up on their sleep. Kids can't be quiet all the time and it is not fair to expect them to be. But it is hard for other passengers to keep quiet for a long time without expressing their frustration and as another mom onlooker, there are words of advice you want to offer to the indifferent mom. At that point, you want to say that everyone else on the plane does not share in the child's enthusiasm.
4. The Public Restroom Visitor
Ok, so this is my biggest pet peeve and always has been - badly maintained and careless use of public restrooms. I have personally experienced kids peeing all over the place in hotel & airport restrooms; not because they aren't potty trained, but because they think it's funny. Lo and behold, this is again a situation where some moms are oblivious, do not clean up, and don't even address the hygiene standpoint! What are some of things you would say to that mom?
5. The Movie Theatre Encounter
Last but not least, the movie theatre. There are two ways I look at this - either a child is old enough to sit through a full movie without feeling the need to scream and cry every few minutes when he/she is hungry or sleepy, or a child is still too small to be taken to a loud movie theatre where you need an attention span of more than 15 minutes. My heart goes out to those tiny infants and toddlers who are have to experience 10 pm shows where they inevitably start howling due to the loud noises from the movie, or from extreme tiredness. This sometimes goes on throughout the show without any movement from the mom to take the child outside. What would be your first instinct in this situation as another mom onlooker?
Do you agree and what are your thoughts? Do you want to add on any more situations where you have felt compelled to say something to other moms? I would love to hear from you!