To The Lady Who Judged My Son’s Behaviour Today,
You don’t know me, but I visited your office today with my kids in tow, to return a couple of keys to you. It was a pretty straightforward task, so I figured that my kids (who normally go to school and daycare) could handle coming with me. From the time we walked in front of you, I could tell by your body language that you wanted nothing to do with the keys, or me, or my kids. And you know what? That’s okay. I get it. Maybe you were having a bad day. Maybe you don’t like kids. I had too much on my plate that day to worry about your short tone.
I didn’t push you very hard to take the keys that you should have taken, even though my own time was limited. Rather than deal with me, you asked me to run around the large building to drop one of the keys off elsewhere. As you were explaining this to me, my son dropped one of his toys under your desk. You allowed him, and my daughter, behind your desk to retrieve it. By this point, I could sense your frustration. And I get it. My son is fighting a new stage of not taking naps, and it makes every day beyond difficult for me past 2 p.m. My primary objective was to complete the task at hand and get the hell out of there as quickly as possible while my kids were still behaving. You instructed me to return to you when I was finished to hand off the final key.
As I ran to the other side of the building, I could tell my son was reaching his threshold. We found our way through long corridors and a maze of doors, and we finally reached the elevators. We had to go more than twenty stories up, and naturally, my son experimented with pushing elevator buttons. This took up extra time, and when your toddler is a ticking time-bomb, time is precious. We still managed to make our way to the other side of the building, as instructed, and I rushed back to you to hand off the final key.
When I returned to your office with my kids, you were on the phone. My son, who was now past his threshold, immediately started touching things, and dropped his toy under your desk again. And look, I get how annoying this is. Truly – I do. Let me remind you, however, that you had an option to deal with us quickly, and you decided not to. You asked me to run around a large building with my kids in tow, which made the quick exit that I had planned very difficult. By this point, I believe you understood that – because you swiftly grabbed the final key back from me during your phone conversation, pausing to say “I can take that now.”
I could see the judgemental stare that you were giving me. My daughter, who was behaving quite well, crawled under the desk to retrieve my son’s toy. He didn’t notice that she found it. He ran around to the other side of your desk, and rather than me chasing him to pull him away, I waited for him to notice that we had his toy so we could simply leave. Here’s what you don’t know about my son, lady in the office: He just turned three, and he is not an easy kid. He is a good boy, but he is still often reactive. If he has reached his threshold and I go to pull him away from something he’s doing, he will scream. I chose not to pull him away at this point, because you were on the phone. I didn’t want a noisy, screaming fit while you were on the phone. My intentions were good.
What I didn’t see, however, was that when my son went under your desk, he started looking in your purse to find his toy. This all happened in 0.3 of a second, but before I knew what was going on, you snapped at me to get back there, and yelled “DO YOU MIND!!!” Look, I get this was less than an ideal situation for you too, but please understand that I corrected him as quickly as I could. I pulled him out of there as quickly as I could. I snapped back at you too, harshly, telling you that he just turned three, and he didn’t know any better. I apologize for that. Because as my son was reaching his threshold, so was I. And if I didn’t know any better, so were you. It was the perfect storm.
I know in your mind, lady in the office, that to you, I appeared as a neglectful mother who was not managing her kid. I know in your mind, lady in the office, that to you, my kid was quickly losing control in a less-than-convenient moment for you. I know in your mind, lady in the office, that you wanted nothing to do with me that day. I saw your judgemental look. You didn’t need to say anything more.
Here’s what you didn’t see that day, lady in the office.
You didn’t see that I picked up my child and ran out of your office so quickly, that my son started to throw a wild tantrum.
You didn’t see how little patience I had left as I wrestle-held him with one hand to the car.
You didn’t see that I needed my other hand to hold my daughter’s hand as we crossed the road.
You didn’t see that I finally got him buckled into the carseat, and when I finally gave him his toy, he threw it at me.
You didn’t see me burst into screams and finally tears because I just couldn’t take it anymore.
You didn’t know that I had to somehow compose myself to make another stop that day, with my kids in tow.
You didn’t know, that on that next stop, my son screamed even worse. Except the difference was, the people I met with, after meeting you, looked at me with understanding eyes instead of judgemental eyes. They did everything they could to help. One person even commented with “Poor guy, he’s probably overtired.” BINGO.
Here’s what else you didn’t see today, lady in the office.
You didn’t see that today started off wonderfully.
You didn’t see that my kids woke me up with the biggest smiles and hugs I could have asked for.
You didn’t see that my kids helped me with making breakfast, and ate every last bite, including seconds.
You didn’t see them run upstairs to get dressed for the day without being asked twice.
You didn’t see the other Perfect Stranger who knocked at our door today, and our kids polite “Hello” to him. This other Perfect Stranger worked for a production company that needed a house like ours to film, and had some camera equipment with him.
You didn’t see my kids say “Please” and “Thank You” to this other Perfect Stranger, when he allowed them to look at his camera equipment.
You didn’t see the compliment that this other Perfect Stranger gave to my kids: “You can tell a lot about kids when they say Please and Thank You – that’s so wonderful to see.”
You didn’t see the compliment that this other Perfect Stranger gave to me, when I told him we were running the splash pad before heading out to see you: “Wow, kids, you have a good mom. She’s working really hard to take care of you while she’s working.”
You didn’t see my kids behaving, cooperating, and holding hands at the grocery store today.
That’s what you didn’t see, lady who judged my kid’s behaviour. You didn’t see how wonderfully the day started. Today was going to be a good day, until shit got tough. You may have seen us at our worst, but you didn’t see us at our best. Kids can go from 0 to 100 pretty damn quickly, and while this other Perfect Stranger saw my kids at maybe 10, you saw my son at 90.
So, lady in the office, if we meet again with my kids in tow, all I ask of you is this: please be cognizant next time that young kids are human, just like us. But unlike us adults, they are still learning how to behave. As parents, we are only human, doing whatever we can to manage things. We don’t need your judgement. We don’t even need your praise. We just need you to know that we are doing our damned best, and we just need your humanity.