I like to watch people. If you've been reading me for any little while, you'll have noticed that I write about my people-watching obsession from time to time. Last week, I enjoyed four days of some very exceptional people-watching. It was exceptional because it was a great cross-section of people. Young and old, many cultures, many different economic levels. Today, I'm going to tell you about one person in particular.
She was a young-ish mother, with one child about 3 years old. Mom was probably about 25 - 30. I saw her every day for four days.
The first day I saw them, they were among several people (me included) who were waiting for a class to get out. She sat, with her toddler, at a small table. Mom was texting, and Toddler was bored. Mom scolded. Sit still. Be quiet. Just wait. Hush up. Stop whining.
Toddler was bored. Apparantly, Mom hadn't packed a single toy or a couple of crayons with a sheet of paper or anything for Toddler to do. She sure as hell didn't forget her cell phone, but Toddler was empty-handed. She seemed to be expecting Toddler to sit like a gentleman for half an hour with nothing to do and just wait quietly. Let me tell you, folks, it wasn't working.
The next day, I saw them in a store. An lingerie store, no less. Not even the kind with hoochy, shiny mannequins in colorful lingerie. It was a plain bra store with racks and racks of nude, white and black bras. What a thrill. Believe it or not, Toddler was bored. Mom was trying to look at bras, but Toddler just would NOT stand still and play statue.
The third day, they were in the food court. Toddler sat on the pub-height stool, swinging his feet and slurping loudly on his empty soda cup. Mom was texting. He asked Mom for more soda, but she waved him away like a troublesome mosquito. Toddler was bored. He stood up on the chair and reached over to take a drink from her cup, and she swatted his little rump lightly and made him sit down again.
I understand that children are demanding. I understand that sometimes we have to use creative discipline. My youngest son was a talented interrupter, so he often found himself on the other side of whatever door was handy. Like out on the back porch or in the coat closet. A few seconds without the attention he was clamoring for realigned his attitude. But four days of being bored is a lot to ask of a small child. I don't know many adults who could handle being ignored for four straight days.
I wanted so very badly to go talk to Mom. To tell her that her child's young years would be gone in a flash, never to be recaptured. I wanted to tell her that she was expecting more than is reasonable of a toddler child, to think that he could hang out in a casino, a mall, a hallway and little hotel room for four days with NOTHING TO DO and not get cranky.
I wanted to tell her to read Galit Breen's blog and get some frickin' inspiration about what a joy motherhood can really be.
I wanted to tell her to put her cell phone down, look into the big brown eyes of her little boy and give him a few precious crumbs of her attention.
Honestly, I don't know why I didn't.