By REBECCA SPARROW
As I write this my 20-month-old son Fin is screaming.
He does that at the moment. Lets out a high-pitched wail when something or someone refuses to do his bidding.
So far this morning he’s cracked the shits over me telling him off for drawing on the walls with chalk, for putting spaghetti on the dog (although the dog was non-plussed frankly) and for attempting to, you know, CLIMB INTO THE DISHWASHER. Naturally he responded to my reprimands by fixing me with the steely gaze of a serial killer and then screaming.
And it’s no different on public transport.
Last month, we took Fin on a flight to Bali. What was he like? I’ll tell you what he was like. He was like an octopus who’d had one too many tequila slammers, that’s what. Like Russell Brand at the MTV after party. He was charmingly ANNOYING.
With three kids under five in my house, this is what I know: wine that comes in a box actually isn’t that bad. And also? Parenting is not for the faint-hearted.
So when I heard this morning that a Sydney bus driver had reprimanded a mother whose 21-month-old little girl was “carrying on” on his bus, I read the story with great interest. Here’s how it went down according to the Daily Telegraph:
A SYDNEY bus driver demanded a mum stop her toddler “carrying on” or get off his bus because he couldn’t drive with all the noise.
When another passenger intervened the driver allegedly turned on him before storming off the vehicle to sit at a bus stop – leaving his customers stranded by the side of the road for 10 minutes.
Beth Burton had collected her 21-month-old daughter Mia from daycare and boarded the 380 service from Dover Heights to Bondi just before 4pm Tuesday. She was five minutes into the trip when she was confronted.
“As we got to the next stop the driver stood up, looked at me and asked where was I getting off,” Mrs Burton, 24, said.
“I told him on the other side of Bondi Beach and he said if my daughter didn’t stop carrying on like that I would have to get off the bus because he couldn’t drive.”
Now before you and I tar and feather the bus driver, the mother or the toddler, let’s establish the most crucial point: we weren’t there. Annoying but true.
And the fact is, one person’s ‘whinging’ is another person’s ‘strip-paint-off-the-walls-screaming-fit’.
So I don’t think it’s fair to comment on this specific story since we don’t have all the facts.
But when it comes to the rights of mothers and toddlers (specifically toddlers with the social graces of Idi Amin) – here’s what I think. If a child is having a meltdown and if it’s loud and quite probably annoying to the people around you and it’s gone on for a good five minutes, then I think as a parent you take your child out of that environment. Let me put it more bluntly: YOU GET OFF THE BUS.
At what point as parents did we start expecting the world to just tolerate our kids when our kids are behaving really, really badly?
It’s not okay.
Do we all need to be understanding and sympathetic of parents with small kids who are on the train to Meltdown Town? Yes, of course. Parents feel bad enough as it is (I should know, I’m one of them).