I’ll give you something to cry about.

This morning I brought Smallest to the swimming pool for her weekly swimming lesson. It runs alongside a women’s only swimming session, populated mainly by women of a certain age. This leads to an interesting mix in the changing room, and this morning we just couldn’t seem to get out of the way of an older woman who came repeatedly in and out of her cubicle to fetch each item of her clothing one by one, walking through the space where we were trying to get Smallest changed, and round the carseat with Tigerboy on the floor. Not once did she catch my eye though I tried to smile and apologise, but there you go.

Another of the children coming to the lesson was not in the best of moods. In fact, by the decibel level issuing from him, you’d have thought he was being flayed in front of us. His mother was being calm and unflustered and continuing to encourage independence as she got him changed, and I admired her self restraint as she dealt with her tantrumming offspring.

Once the children had been delivered to the teachers, I retired to the cafe, with Big was rocking Tigerboy in his carseat. The older ladies arrived to sit at the next table, and ignoring us sitting next to them, proceeded to loudly criticise my friend’s parenting skills.

“What’s wrong with a little tap on the leg?” one of them asked the other.

“Yes, when they’re making that noise, say do you want something to cry about, and then a little tap on the leg.”

Or words to that effect. They went on for a while, before moving on to another topic.

I wish I’d had the courage to interrupt them and ask if, when they are upset, they prefer to be listened to, or told that if they keep it up, they’ll be given something to cry about. Because there’s pretty much always someone whose had worse than what you’re going through, so surely there’s no reason for you to get so worked up. But you’re an adult, a person, and you don’t think anyone would ever be as disrespectful as to do that to you, and certainly no one would hit you for crying.

So why on earth would you think it’s right to do it to a child? A young child at that, struggling to make sense of a world that they have little power or control over. A child that trusts you to make it right, to look after them, to soothe hurts and take away pain. Why would you add to it?

Oh, I daresay if you kept it up as a parenting method it would work. Your child would learn that crying to you is pointless, that you don’t help, you increase pain. They’d learn that expressing your emotions is an empty strategy, and they’d shut down, withholding communication from the ppl they should open up to most. Life would probably be a lot quieter, and a lot colder too, without the trust that should exist between a parent and child.

I really do wish I’d had the gumption to challenge them and their sad, small minded, aggressive attitudes. But instead I contented myself with whipping out a breast and defiantly breastfeeding on demand in public. Because somehow I doubt they’d have approved of that either. Perhaps I should have let my 7 week old baby cry. Or given him something to cry about instead 🙁

About Jax Blunt

I'm the original user, Jax Blunt I've been blogging for 14 years, give or take, and if you want to know me, read me :)

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  1. I like the way they say, “a little tap on the leg,” because it never was a little tap on the leg was it? You’d be hard pressed to describe the difference between the type of spanking I used to get as a child and beating. The nearest I can get is a spanking is a beating but just on your bottom.

    • You’re absolutely right. And I don’t think there was any difference – I remember being spanked so hard that I slept lying face down 🙁

  2. That’s so sad. I was never hit as a child and I seem to manage not to tantrum at the swimming pool… People just take time to grow up and sometimes it’s a bumpy ride. Why would anyone ever imagine that violence would help? It’s a mystery to me.

  3. Old people in the swimming pool changing rooms are a pet hate. They always take up all the family rooms and I am left trying to change my eight month old wriggler on a bench or the floor. I wouldn’t mind giving some of them a tap on the leg and something to cry about!
    Becky recently posted…Reasons to be CheerfulMy Profile

  4. these ladies are so out of touch with what it’s like to care for a child, I expect anything the mum would have done would have been wrong .

    Some people just love to have something to moan about.
    One great aunt use to tell me everytime she saw me how fat i was and not just to me but kinda address it to the room , so I felt I needed to address her incontrollable flatulence – she soon shut up.

    Nastiness comes in all ages!

  5. It worked so well for them that they grew up considerate and empathetic, after all. And far too polite to criticise strangers in public.
    Ailbhe recently posted…So what do they actually know?My Profile

  6. I hate it when people but into how you are treating or trying to deal with your child having a tantrum. Most of the time you are embarrassed enough and hope no one notices.
    Susan Mann recently posted…Review – Frankie and Bennys RestaurantMy Profile

  7. Parenting! So easy when you don’t have any small children…. Meh

  8. I once spent a very traumatic hour in a crowded doctor’s waiting room with a tired and hungry toddler and a breastfeeding on demand newborn. After an hour of following the toddler around with baby attached I sat down for a minute as my back was aching so much. The toddler was being noisy and the baby was crying, and I was barely coping. The thing that just about tipped me over the edge was an old lady muttering about the poor baby who needed to be given a dummy.

    A couple of years earlier, I was sitting in a cafe bottlefeeding my first baby and feeling guilty for not being able to breastfeed him, and ashamed to be seen giving him a bottle. After he finished feeding I was bouncing him up and down, kissing him and making him laugh, and an old lady came over to me and said “You’re a lovely mum.” I think she was possibly an angel! I know which kind of old lady I would like to be. I hope I will be.

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