A few weeks ago, I was out shopping in Waitrose with my kiddos. I never usually shop at Waitrose but I was in one of those moods where I fancied something posh for tea. I was juggling the double pushchair and a shopping basket, plus two very restless children. I soon began to feel less hungry and regretted my decision but had come too far to give up now.
It was a busy time of the day and every corner I turned I seemed to narrowly miss causing death by Phil and Teds. The usual set up is Sophie (being the smallest) sits in the back with George in the front. Sophie decided she wanted to stand up within the back seat which sounds dangerous, and probably is. At that moment, though, I just needed to get around the shop and get out. She was happy and seemed surprisingly secure in her new stance.
Until…George decided to get out of the pushchair, without warning. Cue total carnage.
Sophie was tipped out of the back of the pushchair, basically falling on her head. On the way down, the pushchair took my basket with it and flung its contents within a pretty impressive radius, it has to be said.
My first reaction was obviously to see if Sophie was ok. She was screaming a LOT which I couldn’t blame her for at all. The poor little thing had just had a horrible shock and been hurt in the process. I was also very aware that I needed to gather my goods as quick as possible as there was a traffic jam of shoppers gathering around me. I could feel myself getting hot and red as I tried desperately to comfort my child and clear up all my mess.
Right in the midst of this increasingly stressful situation, a lady decided it would be helpful to scold this already guilt ridden mother.
” You need to be more careful. You do know she’s really hurt herself?”
Lets pause here for a moment. I know I need to be more careful. At that very minute, that fact was glaringly obvious and I wished I could turn back the clock. I felt absolutely awful that my baby was hurt and that basically it was all my fault. I didn’t need these feelings to be reinforced by a total stranger who thought she had a right to make me feel even worse.
I’m afraid I couldn’t just bite my tongue and take it.
“Do you think I did it on purpose? Do you really think I wanted to hurt my daughter?”
I wasn’t shouting but I’ll admit that I was quite, lets say, bold in how I spoke to her. I was just flabbergasted that anyone could speak to me like that in such an obviously upsetting situation. How dare she say that to me? How dare she stand there, without offering any help whatsoever, and cast judgement on me?
There were lots of people around me listening to this exchange, most of them quietly picking up items from my basket and silently passing them to me. One of these passers by was a young ish guy who had witnessed the event from start to finish. He quietly reprimanded the woman on my behalf.
“You know, you shouldn’t speak to someone like that. I’ve got children of my own and what you’re doing really doesn’t help in a situation like this.”
I was really, happily, surprised that someone had stood up for me. I felt so grateful that he had spoken up and made me feel a little less worthless than the woman had made me feel. I thanked him a lot, paid for my goods and took my screaming children home.
This was a really horrible experience. It wasn’t the end of the world or anything, just not very nice. It made me re evaluate how I look at people and judge them. It’s so easy to think something about someone and feel like we are better than they are. To look at someone who is struggling and feel like we could do better, rather than looking for a way to make things better.
Have you ever been in a situation like this? How did you react?
My daughter thankfully suffered no lasting injuries and doesn’t seem too traumatised by the experience. No more standing up in the back of the pushchair though, sorry Soph.