At the polyclinic yesterday, I observed a mother with infant strapped in front, trying to pacify her other child who was creating quite a ruckus with his crying, whining, and incessant pleas to “go home”. The mother tried to explain to him that they were there simply to pick up some medicine and creams but the boy, who looked to be about 5 or 6 years old, just went on and on. The mother finally got him into a seat and she slumped down into the next one, utterly exhausted. After a bit, she looked as if she had spaced out but the boy was not done yet, constantly crying and pleading to go home. Interestingly enough, people around them displayed a variety of reactions…
The majority of people within the clinic simply went about their own business. A teenage girl seated next to the mother even continued with her reading! How one reads a novel near a child who’s crying, I don’t know. But hats off to her.
#2: STINK EYE
Other people were less kind. I watched as one middle-aged woman strode past the mother-and-child and gave them the ‘stink eye’. She seemed absolutely disgusted at the mother and out-of-control child. And she went off in a huff as if she couldn’t stand being in the same space with them anymore.
#3: WATCH & JUDGE
There’s a group which would just watch and wait to see what happens. Would the kid just shut up on his own? Would the mother lose her cool and scream at him? Would they eventually just up and leave before seeing the doctor? Others would silently judge the mother’s inability to control her child. Admittedly, I was wondering why the mother didn’t simply respond with a threat since patient explaining didn’t work. Do parents no longer keep canes at home to ensure obedience? Hmm.
#4: HELP & SMILE
Something happened yesterday which took me by surprise: one smiling lady walked up to the mother and offered her some candy for the child. Interestingly enough, I noticed that the child stopped crying when the lady offered this sweet distraction. But once she was gone, he picked up the pace and continued where he had left off. Bummer. Seems like he was simply kicking up a fuss and wasn’t crying because he was hungry, genuinely in pain or truly distressed. Still, that lady’s kind gesture taught me this: we can choose to react in disgust, or respond with empathy.
All too often, we meet parents whose kids are behaving “badly” in public and we are quick to “blame” the parents for not being able to control their kids’ behavior. Unfortunately, sometimes children have meltdowns in public because of autism, for example. Read this post written by my pal. Whenever possible, we can reach out with a smile, some candy, or a few kind words. Ultimately, I believe no parent wishes to be embarrassed in public by their own offspring.