Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Being the Bigger Mama

credit businessblog.net

I really hate that expression "be the bigger person." Whenever people think you should roll over or walk away they finish their advice with "be the bigger person."

I have had a couple of situations lately where I've been told to "leave it! Be the bigger person". Why? Why should I? Am I lesser of a person because sometimes I choose the path of most resistance? Maybe I am.

Let me paint you a picture. My beautiful spirited little toddler doesn't like being tied down. can't blame her. She is who she is and she certainly isn't sedate. She won't sit for long in a pram unless it is moving. Fast. So walks to the park are fine, but meandering around a mall is not fine. Not at all. She contorts and screams and does not stop until she is freed from her Quinny or Silvercross prison.

It is not my fault. I am not her. I am me. So when strangers roll their eyes at me and tut tut at me and say things like "shut that child up" and "what's wrong with you, why don't you discipline her?" I tend to blink back embarrassed tears and wonder why I am so lousy at this parenting gig. That was until a few weeks ago when the Tinker and I were out shopping with my mother and I suddenly grew some spunk.

Tink was walking beside the pram but we had approached the escalator and I needed her to sit in the pram for her own safety. So I got down to her height as I do and I said "it's time to sit in your big girl pram now just for a minute." She pulled away and wailed "noooo big girl pram" so I put my chipper voice on and said "yes it's time for the big girl pram and because you are such a big girl you can even have some cheese!" just as I said this a woman walked up to me and said "pfft. You are pathetic!"

So I put the Tinker in the pram and chased after her. Going fast was just the treat and Tinker started giggling. I called out to the woman "sorry I missed what you said before. I think you were giving me some parenting advice?"
She turned back and glared at me and slowly shook her head at me. The way I might slowly shake my head at a pair of stirrup pants perhaps. "I'm really open to suggestions, I'm trying my best with her, what else would you suggest I do?"
She swore at me. My mother appeared then, apparently her search for Sussan had failed. She was horrified to find me in the midst of an altercation with the woman in the stonewash jeans and bleached poodle perm hair. "Just leave it Carolyn. Be the bigger person."

Nope, no bigger person that day. I was the little person. The littlest person in that whole bloody shopping centre. Littler than my Tinker and littler than the Iggle Piggle toy I'd bought her when she cried near the check-out. I called out to the swearing woman "Really, tell me how I can improve my approach to toddler tantrums, seriously tell me I will take all the advice I can get."
You know what she said? She said "Fuck you, I'm a child psychologist" and then she ran into Big W. That's our Aussie version of Wal-Mart for my American readers.

Now obviously she isn't a child psychologist, or maybe she is? I really feel for the parents forking out a hundred and fifty bucks an hour to expose their children to such an inarticulate therapist if she is. I think she was just some nutjob who picked the wrong mummy to humiliate that day. Maybe I should have just left it, but she was straw that broke this mother camel's back. People are always rolling their eyes at me and criticising me when my Tinker throws a tanty in public and until that day I would usually just look away embarrassed or shrug my shoulders but that cow set something off inside me and I snapped.

Are you the bigger person in these types of situations?


  1. honey, don't ever think you are doing the wrong thing when parenting your own child. You know Tinker the best. Better than that asshat woman, who I hope to god, doesnt have children (if she does, those poor children, i feel for them).

    Thats the thing with children, they are all different. Bloody hell, I am no child psych, and I know that. So everyone uses different parenting techniques. Whatever works for you (and like Tinker, I am easily bribbed with cheese).

    Bah, what an asshat! I hope she fell over in Big W

  2. That gave me a great giggle! I cant believe people can be so rude. A friend of a friend (yes I know that sounds dodgey) recently travelled interstate with her bub on a JetStar flight... A certain blonde, well known Getaway Presenter (who has finally found herself a partner - enough hints?) took it upon herself to openly scold the mother with "Are you going to control your child?" when bub was crying after take off. It seems that everyone is an expert in parenting before they actually become a parent!

  3. Awww Carolyn .. I'm pretty sure I threw some tanties in my day. In fact, I know I did. I'm going to have a strong-minded child I just know it. It's punishment for the hell I put my mother through.

    Couldn't help but laugh all through this post - there were tears! I had to read it to Nick after, because he wanted to know what was so funny. You need to write a book.

  4. Sometimes it feels good to be a teeny tiny person. I was today in fact. Had a total meltdown at my desk and virtually combusted over my very unhelpful, seagull-like boss.

    You go right ahead and have a go at strangewrs if it makes you feel good - sometimes you just need a mad rant at a stranger I think.

    What an old hag that woman sounds like!

  5. OMG, I can't believe someone would comment in public to you like that!

  6. I've only ever commented on anyone's parenting once, and that was during a very public spanking of a terrified child in the wine department of a grocery store.
    I like your cheese method much better.

  7. I've actually told a complete stranger off in a Wal-Mart-esque store before because I was tired of letting things get "brushed off." Woman A was telling Woman B (who just happened to be 90 years old and hard of hearing) off... and I flipped out on Woman A because I couldn't just let Woman B be humiliated! I mean, I literally screamed at this woman and told her off.

    It was probably the most liberating moment of my entire life.

    Keep up the good work! Love your blog!

  8. I believe I would have done the same things as you. It's amazing how people often try and tell you how to raise your children. I bet she didn't have any children of her own...those are the people who believe they know the most. I'm glad you stood up for yourself! Way to go! Hopefully she'll think twice before she says anything to someone else.

  9. I absolutely feel for you! I have had sooo many experiences with Joe, who because of his autistic traits can have huge issues in public but looks like any other 'normal' child so people think he is just hidesously naughty and I am a crap mother. I have had to learn to block out other people and get on with my important job which is to keep him as safe, calm and happy as possible. But sometimes, like you say, reason goes out the window and you just want to scream at people who know nothing about your life but feel they ar ei a position to judge!! I think you handled it impeccably well and probably just made her more angry because of your intelligent approach.

  10. It's so nice to read about a toddler that is so much like my own kids. Neither one of them would sit in a stroller and it's hard to contain an independent kid with so much energy. I also know the hurt feeling you have when people give those looks. Ok, so they lucked out and were born with zombie children,but they should have some compassion. Good for you for standing up for yourself!

  11. People actually do that? In public?

    I mean... really? Out loud?


    I'm kind of appalled. Maybe it is because I'm a guy, but no one has ever said anything rude about my kid in public. Dirty looks, sure. But actually saying something?

    You poor thing.

    Maybe if you yell at enough of the $#!t$, people will figure out that isn't a good idea.

  12. Personally, I think you were in the right. I'm not really a confrontational person because I can never think of the right things to say. But in this situation I think you did right. How dare ANYONE tell you how to be a parent. It's not like you were twisting her little arm out of the socket and screaming in her face. Really?? What a bitch, sorry.

  13. That's 100% outrageous. In the states people have an attitude that is in total disregard for others. I've had comments myself while trying to buy my 3 yr old some shoes (so what? The girl knows what she wants, leave us be). Anyway it's outrageous and all you can do is take these "people" with a grain of salt and wonder why they are so miserable that they feel they must impose their "knowledge" on a complete stranger. Way to talk back!

  14. I say nicely handled. No stranger has a right to comment on your parenting. Or mine for that matter. My oldest is technically my stepson and really struggled with a lot of issues when he was your Tinker's age. Screaming fits galore in public at home, didn't matter. I can't tell you how many times my husband or I hauled a screaming child out of a store. We stuck to our guns parenting the child as we decided was best. He's now 13YO and you can see the positive results. Do what you and hubby decide is best, screw everyone else, and be the "smaller" person as necessary. :D

  15. Just starting reading your blog and was so happy to see this post today of all days after the day I had yesterday. My "Tinker" is 4 and the public tantrums just get more loud, more articulate, and more embarrassing the older she gets. Was in Target after picking her up in preschool. She must have been overtired but screamed at the top of her lungs that unless I gave her popcorn to eat while in the store she was going to hurl herself onto the floor. Yes, it is called preschool blackmail. I took her outside to the car for a "time out". On the way, no one commented (probably afraid of a mouthful from my daughter), but I had received looks of utter disbelief.
    I have concluded that when onlookers comment that one should "discipline that child", they are are referring to beating the child. I admit I have had to hold myself back in some situations, and I have spanked on occasion. It is NO more effective than more peaceful methods of discipline.
    Just know that us fellow moms out there support you and we know better than that ignorant fool w/stonewashed jeans and bad hair.

  16. carolyn, i am amazed that you weren't stunned speechless. while i would have liked to chase the woman down it would have taken me about an hour to come out of the stupor of what had just happened to expose my "littler person".

  17. Wow!!! Good for you!! Always stand up for yourself and the decisions you make. Parenting is NOT easy, dont second guess yourself, people should mind their buisness!

  18. I think you did a fantasic thing! She should not worry herself with what your doing. I am positive you do the best you can as a Mother, thats all anyone can do! Keep it up, nothing is wrong with standing up for yourself! Good for you!!!

  19. I cannot believe anyone would just say something so offensive out loud!! That woman probably needed what you provided....a good lesson on why if we can't say anything nice we shouldn't say anything at all! I am sorry poeple are so rude.
    Once when my twins were about six months old an older woman asked me if they had different fathers because one was blond and the other brunette! I told her I was not a cat, and she responded with "than your husband must be pretty white."! :O I didn't know what to say to that so I just walked away. In her opinion my brown hair and brown eyes must have classified me as the help and not the mother! :)

  20. Wow people have nerve these days and the sad part is she wasn't expecting you to respond which is why she retreated. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but parenting is a learning experience no one has the right answer, you find what works and keep moving!!

    As for being the bigger person, in my younger years I think I did it more out of respect for the other person and surrounding people, but now at 26, I speak my mind, without regret, it's not always about being the "bigger person" but more so, taking care of yourself first. If you always consider everyone else's feelings at every waking moment...yours get pushed to the side. I make sure to do what's best for me in all situations.

    Kudos for not responding in a vulgar manner as then you may have been the smaller person, however in this case she was already the size of a peanut for insulting instead of suggesting!

  21. i am SO impressed with you!
    it takes major guts to stand up to a complete stranger while they criticize you!
    i myself find it hard to be "the bigger person" at times and you just gave me the courage i need to stand up for myself.
    yes there is a time and a place for everything but sometimes people push you too far and you can only be so "big"!
    so good for you!! and how dare that woman pass judgement! we all do whatever it takes to make our children happy and to cooperate! pox on anyone who says otherwise!

  22. Ugh, I hate it when people tell you to be the bigger person. That happened to me just the other day. I try, but it still feels like you're losing a little bit, doesn't it? That obnoxious person still gets to walk away feeling like they really got to you. I think it's great what you did. I wouldn't feel bad about it for an instant. You sound like you're a great parent and who's a stranger to say such a thing?? How rude!

  23. That is a fantastic story! I love it! Good for you.

    I can tell you 2 things (no doubt you already know)...this woman has never had children and she ain't no child psychologist!

    Goodness me...where do you shop? Nasty-Town?!

  24. I can certainly relate on the whole "be the bigger person" statement. It was said to me -on Mother's Day - by my father-in-law. I wrote about it today.

    Glad to know I'm not the only one who thinks it's okay to be "little" every now and again!

  25. Tinker is your child and you are her mother. Period. No one else can do the job better than you.

  26. Nobody has dared to tell me how to parent or Nanny in my life. But if they did - I'd like to think that I had the guts you have.

    That lady was so NOT a child pyschologist, just a pyscho.

    That'll teach her. Hopefully next time she'll think.

  27. I think that you WERE the bigger person in this situation! I have a tendency to turn into an angry mother bear when someone criticizes my child for no good reason (like your situation), and I would probably have tripped the woman if I had been in your shoes. I have been known to yell at a little old lady who was chastising my child for crying after she had been given four shots.

    Like others have said, you know your child best. And you are not alone in these situations! I recently was going through the grocery store with my two-year-old throwing a fit, and I had several sweet mothers come up to me and say things like, "I remember those days," "I've been there before!" or It won't last forever." :)

  28. I can just imagine the type of bogan to say something like that when she probably has 5 children at home all to different dads under that age of 10. What a bitch Carolyn, whilst I don't know you personally but from what I can see on your blog you are a wonderful Mum. And good on your for going after her!

  29. I must say good for you! It takes guts to stand up to people who are constantly butting in with their almighty holier than thou parenting advice. I have stood my ground a few times but not many. I can sympathize with the tantrums my two year old has hit the terrible two's worse than my son ever dreamed of. Keep your head up and I think you were handling her just fine.

  30. What's pathetic about bribery with cheese? I would have had to chase that frizz head down as well! I don't think you were the "little person" in that situation - she was out of line. It's not like you were beating Tinker on the head with a cheese log to get her into the stroller (pram).
    Mine are 9 and 5 now and I still have to use my evil mommy growly voice to set the ground rules for behavior before entering public places. It still fails at times and I leave feeling too like I am no good at the parenting gig. But hey - it's okay! As long as we love them, snuggle them and wrap them up in hugs it will all turn out okay :) I think.

  31. A child psychologist who cusses in front of a child? I don't think so. A liar without children is probably closer to the truth.

  32. Wow! Good for you! I can't believe that lady said that! At times I just bite my tongue, but at other times I have said things. One time that comes to mind is when I was grocery shopping, it was on of those trips and I just wanted to get out of the store. The kids were going crazy, my two-year-old was trying to climb out of the cart.. I just wanted to pay and go. A lady came up and told me, she is going to fall. To which I replied, "Yeah I know". She walked off huffing and I paid and left the store ready for this trip to be over.

  33. I'm with The Paligos: you WERE the bigger person. You forced a direct interation: she was the teeny one making muttered criticism.

    Honestly, if bribing with cheese is a crime, then lock me up too.

    Lola has no words yet, as you know, so I'm ALWAYS having conversations with myself where I'm bribing her with cheese.

    "Would you like to sit in the shopping trolley for mummy and have some cheese? Oh yes, please mummy. No problem darling. Thanks mummy"

    As an aside, yesterday Lola was wolfing her bag of Bega Shapes in the trolley when we saw a neighbour. Lola kindly proferred a piece, and this older woman delicately curtsied so Lola could post a piece into her mouth. It was very sweet. Showed the best side of both of them, I thought.

  34. I cannot believe someone said that to you! Why on earth are you pathetic for trying to keep your child safe?? She obviously has never been a parent.
    When my girls refuse to eat their lunch, out comes the cheese! At least I know they're getting something into them ;o)

  35. I am often the little person! I just can't help myself sometimes. It is one of my pet hates when people do this.

  36. I applaud you! It sounds like you handled yourself very well! And I agree with the statement from Amy...what child psycholgist cusses in front of a child?

    We mothers should always stand up for what we think is right in regards to our children. My children are well grown and there are a couple times I can think of that I had my say with a stranger...and to this date, I believe I was right.

    So..you go!! girl! You are the little Tinkers Mom. You do what you think is right for your little girl!

  37. I don't have children and I must admit I am guilty of looking at a parent with a screaming child. Although I don't think "oh for god sakes control your child" I think "oh you poor thing having to control a toddler in such a public place". what do you do? if you smack them you have child protection visiting you. If you bribe you are called pathetic and weak. You can't reason with a toddler. The only thing that would get everyone off you back start throwing a tantrum yourself it stops the child and stops anyone making comment.
    1. They are afraid your nuts
    2. They think why did I not think of that.
    3. At least it is entertaining

  38. Hilarious. Good work C, she deserved it!

    Child psych my a$$. I certainly wouldn't be subjecting my child to someone who wears stonewash denim.

    C - 1, Bogan - 0

  39. I wish I had enough nerve to do what you did.

    But why would someone say that to you to begin with? The only thing I ever say when I hear a baby screaming or crying or whatever is to just giggle to whoever is next to me and say "Aww somebody isn't happy" or "Aww they need a nap." I'm never the mean person who goes up and says "GRRR SHUT YOUR SCREAMING BABY UP OR I WILL EAT YOU BOTH!"

  40. YOU ROCK!!! Little people of the mommy-world, unite! I detest it when people correct my parenting in public. Give 'em hell, sweetie!

  41. I like fighting people! It's so easy to roll your eyes or shake your head - not so easy to actually have a face to face argument with words.
    You just taught that lady to shut up IMO!

    I feel like I'm being the bigger person by doing a service to society and fighting those nutjobs who like to butt in to other people's business.
    Keep up the good work.

  42. So I'm new to this whole blogger world, and am constantly looking at people's blogs for fun and inspiration. I just read this entry and it blew me away. I have a 1 1/2 year old son who is rapidly approaching that lovely toddler time of tantrums and headstrong emotions. And thankfully, so far, people have been very gracious when we've been out and about. Until I read this I wasn't sure what exactly I'd do if anyone even looked at us annoyingly- until now. Thank you for the inspiration to be strong!!!

  43. I have been in simular situations when people engaged in passive aggresive behavior and are shocked when confronted. No I am never the bigger person...I give it right back in spades!.....Good for you, and F-her, in her throw back to the 80's attire!

  44. Oh dear - I only JUST wrote about something similar in my post today. Only I couldn't get a smart comment to come out of my mouth. I just stood there catching flies. I wish I could do what you did! Good on you!!!!