On Saturday, I was at a hair salon for the first time in a long time. A little boy came in. He must have been about three. He walked in with his mom, a frazzled-looking woman holding a big soft drink cup – I assume a reward for the haircut. He was cute. He was smiling. Hewas lovely.
His mother sat him up on the high salon chair. Immediate chaos.
“No, mommy. No, mommy! Down. Please, down, mommy, please down! Down!”
My heart broke. I was almost in tears for this little boy who was obviously scared out of his wits. But I was alone. The salon workers, all of them, were laughing – laughing out loud at this little boy.
He began to scream and cry and wriggle. A few agonizing minutes later, the mom finally gave up and took him outside, where he continued to scream and cry for a long time. She must have been trying to convince him to come back in. The callous laughter continued.
These people must not have children, I thought. How could a person be so cruel as to laugh at another’s raw fear? Would they laugh at an adult suffering a trauma to that degree? I doubt it. What makes it okay for adults to belittle children, to minimalize their feelings? Just because the adults don’t necessarily understand the logic of a child does not give them the right to ridicule a very real reaction to a very real fear. My sadness turned to disgust.
A disgust that only thickened as their laughter turned to judgement.
“She must let him run wild.”
“What a spoiled brat. Bet if daddy took him to get his hair cut, it would have been totally different.”
“That woman is hardly fit to be a mother, I’d say. Look at her kid. Causing such a fuss. I’d be so ashamed if I were her.”
Truth is, kind and loving hairdressers, that the woman is ashamed. Parents cannot help but be ashamed when something like this happens in public. I pray she never finds out your take on it because your take on that situation is my worst nightmare.
I spoke up.
“You don’t know why that baby was screaming like that. You don’t know why he was scared. You don’t know his past. You don’t know if this is commonplace or rare with him. He’s clearly very upset. I don’t think your laughter helped.”
I was an instant fan favorite. (I’m lucky they didn’t mess up my hair, I think.)
After some hemming and hawwing on their part, I continued. “And really, how do you know that the kid would be better behaved with his father? How do you know he was even misbehaving. It was very brave of that woman to take her kid here by herself, and I’m sure she’s doing the best she can. A screaming child does not make an unfit parent, you know.”
I don’t think I got through to them. And sadly, the message I took home from this experience is that, yes, if you think someone is judging you, they are. If you think someone thinks your child is out of control or spoiled, they do. If you think someone is mentally calling you a bad parent, they are doing exactly that.
So, stand tall. Stand tall, stand proud and ignore them. Continue to tend to your child as best you can. There is only so much we can do, after all, and if we let every critical eye interrupt our parenting, we’d be reduced to screams of rage and fear, ourselves.
Remember, the judgements are coming from those who don’t know. Either they have yet to have kids, or their kids were miraculously angels at all times. Those who don’t know can judge, but their judgements will never matter. It doesn’t matter what they think of you. It matters what your child thinks of you. And, screaming or not, your child thinks you’re doing a pretty darn good job.