The kindness of strangers (or…not)
On Sunday, the following occurred:
- A woman, after listening to the baby cry on the airplane, told me “your baby needs water”. I replied with an ever-so-slightly annoyed “actually, I just had to go to the washroom, and now I’m going to feed him, thanks.”
- A woman stopped me in the grocery store to ask me how much longer our journey home was. When I replied with a puzzled look on my face, she clarified that she was asking because our dog was trapped in the back of our car, jumping and scratching to get out, and she’d been watching this happen while behind us on the highway. I explained that we had just picked her up from the kennel (a free range farm, actually), after we’d been traveling for 17 hours ourselves, with our car full of luggage after leaving the airport, and I was there to get some food for my kids – with a smile. And slightly apologetically.
- A woman, on her way out of the airplane, made a point of telling me how well behaved our kids were on the flight. I mumbled something like “well, sometimes they are.”
You think you know what my baby needs to stop crying? Really?!
You’re seriously trying to nail me for animal cruelty, when actually she’s ecstatic with joy that we just collected her, and hell, we are all squished in the car equally, both man and beast?
You think my kids were good, eh? So you were expecting them to be bad? You should have seen the looks of abject terror on the faces on our fellow passengers when we turned up for the first flight from Toronto to London with 3 little kids. It was incredible. We were their worst nightmare. That didn’t materialize.
Do you intervene when you see something happening? I am not the type of person who would pursue someone through a grocery store because I was slightly concerned for their dog. Or have the gall to suggest to a fellow mother that I know what her baby needs when he’s upset. I would, of course, intervene if I saw something serious happening – like true neglect or abuse. The rest? Seems like it’s not really any of my business. Or yours, ladies.
Am I overly sensitive? Were these women merely being helpful, when they saw situations that may have been problematic? Or did I happen to cross the path of a few busy bodies all in the same day, leaving me feeling under attack?
All of these conversations really got to me in one way or another. These women found my Achilles’ heel – or the chinks in my armour. I’m trying to hold it all together, and it’s precarious, and they managed to point out that maybe I’m not doing so well after all. Or at least I took it that way, whether or not that was their intention. I got defensive, and upset, and it wasn’t the greatest day. Of course, this happened on a day I was awoken to start traveling about 4000 km at 3:30am. So perhaps my fatigue didn’t help. But they didn’t really help either.