(3rd May, 2011)

We went to Vinnie’s today in Lismore to buy Greg shorts. This is our small contribution to the world – we prefer the musky smell of Vinnie’s to the sweat shop smell that emanates from the River’s discount store below Woolworth’s. Although most things in Vinnie’s were most likely made in a sweat shop at some point, at least we can claim smugly that we buy ‘Recycled’. Anyway, I diverge – that’s not really the point of my story…

What happened in Vinnie’s is…a lady comes in with two children in a pram. No biggie. Except that one of the girls was crying. No, make that scccrrrrcreeeeaaaaming. Screaming in desperation. The sort of scream where everyone exchanges glances in embarrassment for the poor mother. I felt sorry for the mum at first. I can imagine her thoughts, thoughts of shame perhaps, and longing for her child to be calm, and embarrassed looks to cease. The crying continued. The girl was two – I know this because in the midst of the chaos, the mother yelled out, “Anyone want to take home a two year old?” That’s when I started to feel less sorry for the mother, and more sorry for the child. And the mother’s look was smug…It seemed this episode of screaming was not uncommon. The mother’s expression was a mask of resilience. Perhaps she needed to appear in control and maintain humour in this awkward moment, and was practised at doing so.
I no longer felt sorry for the poor mother. I only longed for her to take the child out of the pram, and give her a hug. Or ask her what the matter is. Or anything that could be interpreted as affectionate. The child must have had a reason for screaming so ferociously, and even if it is frequent, then even more reason to give her a cuddle.
Of course this is just my interpretation of the situation. I have no idea what was going on before hand, or anything about this woman or her child, or her relationship with her child. Who am I to judge? All I can do is put myself in her shoes, and if I was in her shoes, I am sure I would have done things differently. You see, mypersonal feeling is that children cry or scream for a reason. They are actually saying something, and no matter how irrational it seems to us, we need to listen. If we constantly ignore our children’s cries, then the child learns that when she cries, no one listens. She learns that the world doesn’t listen, and her feelings aren’t acknowledged. She learns, perhaps, that she is not worthy of being heard.
So in that musky Vinnie’s haze, I am sure I would have been a different mother. But then again, maybe not – maybe if my history with my daughter had been similar to that mother and daughter’s history, maybe I would have done as she had. Maybe I should reserve my judgement for another day, and put my own smug look away.