October 17, 2008

Children should be Heard and not just Seen

Is it really that hard for people to understand childhood? I mean, I've had several occasions where the presence (and possible misbehavior) of my child was the end of someone else's world. Today's experience is just one of many such shocking occasions.

I was at Earthwise Building Salvage in Seattle. My dear son was in his stroller, behaving well. Once he finished his bottle that changed. He made some complaints (small squeals) of disapproval over still having his bottle. I quickly took it and put it away. He settled down for a few minutes, then boredom ensued. I mean, a place like that with so much eye candy really requires he be out of his stroller, right? NO! So I quieted his protests, and continued around the corner. Seriously though, on a scale of 1 to 10 his screaming was a 2. Trust me, I've heard the whole scale. But just as he got noisy my cell phone rang. My dear husband wanted me to drop in at his office. So I am chatting with him for a brief minute.

THEN I noticed her. A slightly older (50-60 years) lady, dressed decently enough, glaring at me and my son from 15 feet away. First it was a glare, then when my son squealed again, it was full on stare down. Then somewhere within her she found the audacity to speak to me:

Lady - "Does your son HAVE to Scream." (I wish you could have heard the venomous, challenging tone in her voice. At that very moment I pitied her offspring while doubting the fact she had any.)
Me - "Yes." (And then quickly back to my husband on the phone.)
Lady - (Quite aghast at my response.) "I did NOT come here to listen to your son scream. You should quiet him."
Me - (Completely disgusted by her at this point. Plus my son had squawked twice, and was now quiet.) "I'm sorry but if you are offended by my son you should leave, because I'm going to continue shopping."

At this point, to avoid further altercation I quickly wheeled my son around a corner, but not before noticing an employee pop her head around the corner to catch a glimpse of us. I finish my conversation with my husband quickly and wheel my son over to the window panes that I planned to purchase. My mind is racing. I've experienced things like this before. Will the employee try to respect this customer and ask me to leave? Great. Why did I even respond the way I did. (And yet, I was secretly applauding the fact that I stood up for myself for once.) Oh well, I figured I'd make my purchase and run.

Then, not at all surprisingly, the employee approached me. Not at all timid in her approach. I'm nervous. I'll admit, things like this have gone awry in the past.

Employee - "Oh my gosh, I am SO SORRY."
Me - (What the heck? Not quite expected. Let's run with it.)
Employee - "I can't believe anyone could be so rude."
Me - (I know, I think that lady had major issues. Wait, you're siding with me?) "I know, I was rather surprised myself."
Employee - "I'm seriously so sorry, I can't believe that. I asked her to leave, and not to come back."
Me - (Gasp, What?!) "Oh, wow, OK. I'll admit, I couldn't believe she would say that to me."
Employee - "Me either, I can't believe she was like that, your son was really not bothering anyone. And he's so cute." (Smiles at him.)
Me - (Wow! This employee is more shook up then I am.) "Oh, you would be surprised how rude people can be about children and them making too much noise."
Employee - "You're kidding me. I can't believe that anyone could be that way about kids."
Me - "Me either."

At this point I showed the employee what I wanted to buy. She carried it all to the till for me, rang me up, and helped me load the car. The whole time, she's in shock and can't stop talking about how rude that lady was.

After I load my son in the car and start to get in myself I see that the employee has not made it very far. She's telling a co-worker about the whole thing. She's still in shock over it. He looks up at me, and yells "I'm so sorry about that." I yell back "It's OK. Oh well, I'm over it, thanks though. I just hope she (the employee) can get over it and have a good day." to which he replies "Too late."

I pull out, thinking over the whole situation and remember the General Conference talk on laughter. No, I won't let it ruin my day. I will just laugh over the great story. I will also remember the fabulous service I received at Earthwise and continue to return!

Grant it - if my son had been having a full on temper tantrum in the store, I think the only right thing in that situation is for me to leave. But remember, these were little squawks.

So to the old adage "Children are to be seen but not heard." I reply "Children should be heard and not just seen." And my Mom, the education guru herself would say "I worry about quiet children, there is usually something wrong with them."


Brandon & Natalie said...

Oh man, that was a great story! It's like that employee was defending mistreated mothers everywhere! Thank you for standing up to that woman, she has no place in public if she can't handle a little squawking now and again - even if Alex had been screaming, she wasn't justified in her comments!!!

nea and rusty said...

Good job for standing up to her!! That is something I would want to, but struggle to do. She didn't have a reason to be so harsh and mean. And I'll bet she was pretty taken back by your guts to stand up to her. Yea!

Layla said...

That was awesome!

Jessica Brown said...

Way to stand up for yourself. Some of the best advice I have ever heard on this subject is "You don't need to constantly apologize for your children when they are doing age appropriate behaviors". I felt like on airplanes and in stores I was constantly apologizing to people for Liv's little squawks and squeals. But you know I'm grateful for those little noises, because it means she's communicating and growing! I'm glad you didn't let that lady ruin your day!

Jocelyn said...

That is incredible! I greatly enjoyed your gripping literary style in which you relayed the story!