I have not yet had any experiences with people thinking my children have bad behavior. My children both are more prone to fear, which keeps their behavior outside of the house pretty in check. I have recently come to realize that sometimes I am seen as the one with bad behavior. I would love to say it doesn’t bother me, but it does. I sometimes may parent a little differently than another simply because it works for my child’s particular issues, and I wish people would not be so quick to judge.
We got to the library somewhat often. The library has a little play area for the kids. Bud likes repetitive play, so of course he loves to take the books off the shelves. It is a toddler area, so they are not shelved alphabetically, just tossed on a wooden bookcase. I have been a library patron my entire life and as a bookie I respect books immensely. We always pick up after ourselves. We put our books on the bookcase and any toys or blocks back. When I am getting myself a book, I look up the catalog number so I know right where to find it. Bud still likes to throw a few books off the shelf before I can be on my way. I will shelve them if I know the exact spot they came from, or place the few books on the library cart, because librarians do not want you to shelve a book in the wrong spot.
I was at the library a couple weeks ago. I needed to look something up on the computer card catalog. Bud did not want to play in the toddler area. There was a row of adult books near the computer catalog station as well and he wanted so badly to take the books off that shelf. I was holding Bud and had my book mostly looked up when he started his crazy high pitched scream, so I made a call…I put him down to quickly finish my task. He was in my line of vision right near me the whole time. I counted that he had 4 books down. I was just clicking off the computer and going to grab him (he may have been able to get 1-2 more books down in that moment), when a librarian said “Do you wanna watch him?” She did not really say it so much as snipe it. I said I am watching him, he is right here and I swooped him up. She said, “well he is going to take down all my books.” I explained that he really enjoys taking down books and that he’d only gotten down a few, a few that I intended to put away as I always do, and that my task was quick and I had no intention of letting him tear down all the books. She continued to snark, and I found myself getting really passive aggressive, telling Bud in a voice loud enough for her to hear that I was really disappointed with how the librarian treated us. I decided we better leave, quickly, as Mom as losing her cool.
I have no idea why that bothered me so much. It bothered me for hours afterwards, too. I know some of it had to do with the way she said it. She had every right to ask me to stop him from taking books down. But that’s not what she did. She asked me if I wanted to watch my child, thereby implying I had not been watching him. I did not recognize her, and I know most of the librarians, so perhaps she did not know that we always pick up, that we are good and loyal patrons, that other librarians have been amused by Bud’s antics in the past and actually told me to let him be when I scolded him to stop.
Even now, I am not sure why it bothered me so much. Yes, she could have been much more polite about the whole situation, but still why let it get to me? There was a woman at Target who came to me and warned me my son was going to get away if I did not watch him. Again, I was watching him. He was right in front of me. He likes to pace. He runs up and down the aisle, back and forth, back and forth. He is fast. He thinks it is hilarious to run back to me when he gets a couple feet away. I let him spend time doing this and then he sits in the stroller better for shopping. She apparently thought he was going to keep on going, probably because many kids do in stores. But not Bud. Bud watches me like a hawk and is scared to be too far away, for now. He sure does love his pacing. So why let that woman get to me? What about the people who gave me rude looks when Bud used to leave a mountain of torn paper under him at a restaurant because the only thing that kept his attention or soothed him in the highchair was tearing up napkins? I always picked up the napkin pile before we left. Why let it get to me?
The truth is I really do not fully understand why I let these things bother me. It may be because I feel judged. I am trying my best to be a good mom and I think I do a decent job. What do these people know of our life? It also may be the fact that so many of the things my son considers fun to do, the things that help him feel happy and regulated, are considered “bad” or weird by other people, and that makes me angry. Who is anyone else to say what is normal or not? We are not hurting anyone else and we pick up after ourselves. There is a saying the bible that says “Why worry about the speck in your neighbor’s eye when there is a log in your own eye.” Different is not bad, it is just different, so be kind or let us be.