I’m going to let you in on a secret. Parenting is not something I feel I’m particularly good at.
Don’t get me wrong here, I definitely try to be a good parent. I adore my little gremlin, and I try hard to show him every day that I love him, to get him to eat well, to use his manners, to understand that hitting others (usually me) isn’t very nice.
That being said, there are definitely things I do as a parent that help me get through the day. One of those things is that I let my now two-year-old still use his dummy.
Many people are horrified by this fact, and I get told frequently that I shouldn’t be doing so.
Generally, I laugh at those comments and remind people that he’s fine with it for now. After all, he’s my child and I’m the one who has to deal with that choice in the end.
However, this story is about one such comment, that came so unexpectedly, in such an unseen way, that I was completely stunned into silence.
You know those days when you head to the supermarket with a tired child? Those days that are punctuated by tantrums (theirs, not yours, though sometimes it's a close run thing). We were having one of those days.
The gremlin had thrown a tantrum when we arrived at the supermarket, but calmed down after a time and was a generally lovely little boy. As we were leaving, I rewarded him for his good behaviour with a go on one of those kids' rides they have in big shopping centres.
All was well until it was time to head home. Dragging the once more kicking and screaming gremlin from the ride and putting him back into the trolley, I pulled out my trusty helper, his dummy. With it firmly in his mouth the crying ceased and we began making our way towards the exit.
It was at this point that my pretty standard shopping experience became something completely different.
Out of nowhere, an older woman approached us. She reached out, plucked the dummy out of my son's unsuspecting mouth and scolded me about how he doesn’t need it. She said I was a bad parent to give it to him.
We, both my gremlin and I, met this proclamation with stunned silence. Before I had so much as attempted to gather myself to respond, the woman walked off with his dummy in hand!
I’m not sure if it was the silence on my part or the need to belittle me further that had her turning back, but just as suddenly she was approaching me again and her scolding recommenced.
This time it was along the lines of ‘what kind of parent did you think you are to be using a dummy’ and ‘You should know better, it’s no wonder he screams’.