Living in Chapel Hill these last three years has actually made me forget that there are people out there who don’t “like” kids. Everyone in this town (this State for that matter), seems to be extra considerate, sympathetic and understanding of a parent and their kids’ various moods. Somehow it’s like they all know it is a tough job to be a parent and we (parents and kids alike) all do the best we can to deal with the situation at hand.
Last week after our first Kindermusik class, I had promised Sam some ice cream if she ate a proper lunch. She agreed and we went to the café to order and pay for the food, ice cream included. Of course when the food arrived Sam refused to eat it because she wanted her ice cream. I stood my ground, and because Sam knows that when I say it I mean it, she went into her loud wailing tantrum. Jamie decided it would be fun to chime in, and at that point I had everyone with two ears looking at me. Most of them were quite sympathetic, but I knew none of them thought bad of me or judged me and the girls. Nonetheless I hauled them and the uneaten lunch into the car as quickly as I could, realizing when I got home that I had paid for ice cream I hadn’t claimed. So I called the café’s owner who assured me I could go claim our scoop the next day. When I apologized for the commotion we had caused she said so sympathetically, “Think nothing of it! You did the right thing mom!”
The next day I went back to claim our ice cream, and some regulars who were there the day before, saw us again and smiled. “It’s alright, we all have our bad days! They’re entitled to them too!” one person said to me after I had explained why we left in a huff.
By contrast, cut to…
A few days ago, our flight back into Chapel Hill was cancelled and so we got stuck at the airport for 9 hours waiting for the next available flight. I had packed several activities for Sam, but really only enough to last us 2 extra hours at best; so she spent a good amount of time entertaining herself and running up and down the waiting area and behind the chairs by the windows to catch glimpses of the planes. How do you explain to a toddler that her flight was delayed? All she knows is that she is supposed to get on a plane and wants to… NOW. Nonetheless to Sam’s credit, there was no tantrum or meltdown of any kind. But she was a little boisterous and loud in a happy excited kind of way.
Jamie — what a trooper I tell you. She only cried twice for brief periods and slept a lot of the time. It killed my back I will admit, but we had no major problems with her except for a bit of normal fussing. So all in all, in spite of the horrendous delay, I thought we (the girls especially) did okay.
Many of the other passengers chose to ignore us, and some even found Sam (and Jamie) amusing with her running up and down and shouting “tad-dah!” each time she reached the end. Sam never bothered or approached anyone directly, and each time Jamie would cry or fuss I’d move to a quieter spot to try to settle her down (You can’t compete withe the lounge’s acoustics though, I guess it doesn’t matter where you stay).
There was however, this elderly businessman, who made no secret about his irritation for my daughters, and for me as well. He would be looking at his blackberry, and then every so often he’d look up and spit out a sigh or shake his head in disgust. At one point when Sam passed behind his chair on her way down by the window, he uttered an “ugh” and sarcastically said “pardon ME.”
Now if I weren’t as tired as I was (and probably if I wasn’t carrying Jamie asleep in the sling), I would have gone up to him and said some not-so-very-nice-things. I could understand if Sam was tugging on his hair or messing up his jacket, then he’d have reason to be mad; but seriously — she was just minding her own business. Apparently my husband said he caught this man looking at me as well during the few moments when I would run around chasing Sam, causing her to squeal in delight, as if I was the immature parent and the root cause of improper airport behavior. But really is there such a thing when it comes to toddlers? Does anyone in their right mind expect a toddler to sit still for 9 hours for a flight?! I’m sure any other person would appreciate a happy giggling girl than one who was constantly throwing a tantrum. I decided to just keep Sam away from him in case I wouldn’t be able to control myself any longer, but I was seriously annoyed at his attitude.
Then this man gets on the flight after we had settled into our seats, and yet he chose to sit in front of our family when the plane finally took off. He of course heard Jamie have her meltdown (Naturally, it was 1oPM! Even I was ready to have a meltdown!) and there was nothing I could do to make her stop. And it’s not like I didn’t try either. You could see him exhaling deeply and shaking his head again. I tell you, I had half a mind to put Sam behind his chair and have her kick it all the way home without remorse.
So, to those of you who aren’t particularly enamored with children (And you too, Mr Scrooge. You must not be from around here, I hope you are just passing through), I understand and I’m not expecting you to love them or even like them. That is your preference, and I respect it. But at the same time, I’d strongly encourage you to keep your judgements about me and my children (or any other mom and her children for that matter) to yourself. Or pass your judgements in silence or in a place where I can’t see you! I have enough to deal with and I don’t need you and your annoyed expressions in my path. You probably have no clue what it is like or why my girls are the way that they are. And when I tell them “You did great sweetie”, don’t roll your eyes at me — because really, they did GREAT under the circumstances. For as long as they aren’t directly destroying any of your property or pouncing on you without notice, then leave them be. Leave us be. Don’t mess with a tired mother who had to survive 9 hours with her kids in a not-so-comfortable airport lounge.
Otherwise, next time, I will have you answer to Twinkly Toes.