A few months ago, a picture of a woman in one of those desperate parenting situations was covered by several news organizations. It showed the woman holding a toddler boy over a public trash can somewhere in B.C. so he could go pee – which he was doing in spectacular fashion.
In the photo on the news sites, both of their eyes were hidden by a black band, but I’m sure that poor woman knew it was her and the toddler.
Lots of people may think what she did was disgusting. I could only salute her in commiseration and acknowledge she most likely tried her best in a bad situation.
We live in a society that is quick to wag the finger at parents, to blame them for everything from rude kids to axe murderers. We should always strive to be the best parents we can, and to do our best to raise respectful, polite and, above all, moral children. But parents also don’t get nearly enough recognition when they are nailing it.
Maybe most people don’t notice us when we’re doing it right, and only see us in public when our child is pitching a fit, displaying rude behaviour or peeing in a garbage can.
But, parents in Victoria, I notice you. I watch you with your kids at the grocery store, on the bus and on the way to school. Most of you are doing an exemplary job, and it’s about time someone told you so.
I’ve seen you say no to the cookie, to insist the child try a vegetable, to make a child pick up litter dropped on the ground. I’ve noticed you leaping parental pitfalls with aplomb.
The grocery store is a form of parental purgatory, a place where toddlers are bound to throw tantrums and bigger kids can act out in all sorts of embarrassing ways. I have seen many a parent handle enormous tantrums with grace, humour and astounding self-control. I’ve seen many more avoid the tantrum with a well-placed game of I Spy, or another distraction.
I see a lot of great parenting on the bus, much of it done by younger parents with small children. A few weeks ago, a very young mother got on a bus pushing a stroller. Her baby was crying and the mother looked exhausted. She parked the stroller, sat down and tried to console the baby. Baby continued to cry. She tried to feed him. More wails. Finally, she put him over her shoulder, rocking him and whispering, “It’s all right. It’s all right. It’s going to be OK. I know it’s not your fault.”
I wanted to hug the mom; being on a bus with a crying baby is stressful, and yet she focused on baby’s needs rather than getting angry or breaking down in humiliated tears.
I cycle to work sometimes. One warm early autumn day, I watched a mother with a child in a trailer and another two on bikes pedalling her way up the switch bridge on the Galloping Goose. As she struggled to get up the hill, she was calling back to her cycling daughters, “You can do it. Just keep pedalling. Don’t give up. You’re so strong, I know you can!”
Her daughters were staring ahead, puffing and pedalling. When they got to the top, their mother cheering, they looked as proud as if they’d climbed the tallest mountain.
My loudest applause, though, is for the dad I passed on the Goose this summer, walking with his teenage son. A pretty woman jogged by, and the boy whistled.
His father put out an arm to stop him, looked him in the eye and said, “That was a terribly demeaning thing you just did. Don’t ever do that again.”
Bad parenting moments are like dandelions popping out of a verdant lawn. They’re easy to notice. This week, I encourage you to notice the grass instead. It’s everywhere.
Article courtesy: timescolonist.com
Cindy MacDougall / Times Colonist