My son is a real boy. From the minute he was born he was charging at life. He walked at ten months, ran not long after. He is always climbing something, jumping on something, rumbling with something.
With this kind of kid comes injuries. He’s been stitched up, patched up, set in casts. He’s had more bruises than I can count. So much so that I don’t even notice anymore. They don’t bother him either. A quick cuddle and he is back on his way.
Last week he got himself a good one. He was playing around with his brother on their bunk beds and he somehow fell forward. Eye, meet bed. The result was a black eye that would make a professional boxer envious. He woke the next morning and his entire eyelid was swollen shut. I asked him if his eye was sore. “Nah, it’s fine,” came a three-year-old voice in response.
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So we thought nothing else of it. Another bruise to add to the list.
That was until I took him grocery shopping. There we were in the middle of some aisle and he was having a three-year-old tantrum. I'd had enough. His behaviour had been off the charts for most of the day and it was well and truly the last straw. I roused on him like any mother does. I was THAT mother. The one you never want to be. I was fuming and he knew it. I picked him up off the floor, he fought me so I was standing there with a dangling child, red faces, screams and tears. I just preyed we could get out of there fast before we reached Defcon Five on the tantrum scale.
As I turned around to put him in the trolley I was met with the judgmental eyes of another woman. Looking at me, looking back at him. Looking to me again. She saw his eye, heard me tell him to behave himself "or else". My "or else" was that he wouldn't get to watch any Paw Patrol when we got home. The way that she looked at me though made it obvious that what she thought I really meant was something far worse.
I get that we need to look out for children in society, but really? He is a boy. A boy who is not wrapped in cotton wool. He will get hurt, but he will learn. Each time he does, I will be there to cuddle and console but I can tell you, I did not expect to be standing there and I was shocked that someone would assume that my child was being abused behind closed doors. The judgement in her eyes spoke volumes. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to explain, I wanted to tell her to mind her own business but shock had taken away my ability to speak properly. How could someone think so badly of me, without even knowing the facts?
Horrible things happen to children but abusive parents are the exception, not the rule. Just because a child has an injury and you happen to see them getting a dressing down from a parent does not mean you can jump to shocking conclusions like my friend in the supermarket did. One plus one does not equal a call to the authorities.
We finished our shopping and I let my ratbag son get away with a whole lot more than I would have normally. I didn't want to be looked at like that again, like a monster. As parents we need to be able to discipline our kids in public, how else will they learn? But please, if you see this happening don't jump to conclusions about that mother unless you have a strong reason to do so.
Boys will be boys, as they say, and with that comes a responsibility to pull them in line when they step out of it. People are quick to judge parents for doing nothing when their child acts up but we also shouldn't have to deal with people glaring at me like the way the woman did in the supermarket.
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