This comic strip is dedicated to all mothers out there on this Mother's Day...
She was such a nice lady. I remember trying my hardest to make Little E behave even only for the next five minutes, whispering soft admonishment and gentle encouragement for her to at least use her 'inside voice'. We brought toys, but she has long become uninterested in them. Instead, she was more interested in playing with her surrounding, and at this point of her boredom she has resorted to using the bench as climbing equipment and eyeing the opportunity to touch strangers' possessions around her. Not mature enough to command perfect behaviour, she was truly unable to adapt to her surrounding. She was two at that time. I had no choice but to bring her along for obvious reason.
The people at the place we went to were generally understanding, but I could feel a few pairs of eyes who would occasionally look our way. At one point, my husband had to even bring her outside to have quiet words with her about the importance of being quiet.
We tried so hard to manage her behaviour.
But of course, as vigilant as you could be, there are times when things escape your attention. That time was when Little E decided that the little black bag on the seat in front of her was a cat. She patted the object and meowed spontaneously, surprising the owner of the bag. She pulled the bag on her lap. And Little E earned a few chuckles from her audience. But I was horrified (looking back, it was rather funny..)
I quickly apologised, but the lady gently reassured me. And I thought it would stop at that. That the lady would pretend the whole embarrassing episode never happened at all.
But she did more than just saying it wasn't my fault. At the first opportunity, she turned to face me again, and she said the kindest thing people have said to me in a very long time. That my baby toddler was lovely, and she was a good kid. That she was just behaving normal like a two-year-old should. And that I was a great mother.
A burden was released that day. For some reasons I couldn't fathom, tears was blurring my eyes and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I was rightly touched. I felt understood, and her words lifted my defeated spirit. I could see now that bringing her along was all not for nothing and she could still safely practice about behaving well in public without being judged meticulously.
You see, we parents have dreaded bringing our kids to public place at some point of our parenting life. We are filled with worry of being a nuisance to others around us, just because our babies refuse to stop crying or because our toddlers decide then and there to throw a tantrum. Otherwise, some of use would not go as far as using electronic devices to pacify our children. It is sad, but the reason behind it is totally understandable in this constantly changing rules of parenthood. And we are aware of how much tolerance people have exerted for us. But the kindness of being told that our family is welcome and not a nuisance, and that we're doing great job trying to keep our toddler in line is like a breath of fresh air.
To that nameless lady, whoever she is, I say thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I think I will remember, for the rest of my life.
To strangers in public place, be kind to young parents. Especially those who try very hard to keep their children in check, although they might be failing miserably at that time. Kids learn fast.
To other mums out who are struggling with their young children out there, chin up! You know you are great!
Happy Mother's Day!