I was in line at the grocery store today when I saw something that has disturbed my peace of mind all day long.
There was a little boy playing by himself in the aisle. He tried to pull a small bouncy ball out of his pocket, but he fumbled and it dropped and rolled out of sight under a nearby display case. At that moment his grandmother materialized, grabbed him by the arm, and while scolding him for dawdling, pulled him across the aisle to his mother who was waiting in line near me.
The little boy started to cry.
He tried to explain about the ball, but his two or three year old language skills went unnoticed. As she dragged him over to the register, his grandmother was commanding silence – hush, stop crying, enough already.
When he got to his mother he held out his arms, still trying to explain about the ball and obviously hoping that if grandma wouldn’t listen, mom could help. But mom didn’t help. Mom put her hand over his mouth and, with teeth clenched, began firing off things like “stop it,” “this is unacceptable,” “shut your mouth.” When her demands were met with more tears, she rushed him out of the store and grandma took over at the register.
I only saw one small part of what I am sure is a bigger story. I am not here to throw stones. But as I watched the scene unfold, I wanted to say something. I wanted to be that small boy’s advocate.
I didn’t say anything, so I am saying it now. If you know kids, have kids, work with kids, or care about kids at all, this matters.
When a kid is talking to you, listen.
If your best friend started to cry, would you tell them to hush, be quiet, shutup?
If your best friend was trying to tell you something, would you hold your hand over their mouth?
If your best friend need help, would you deny them your attention?
Kids deserve your respect. Kids deserve your attention. Kids deserve to be treated with kindness 100% of the time – even when you’re tired, or frustrated, or in a hurry.
And don’t tell yourself it’s too hard to be kind to your kids all of the time. Do you ever have a difficult time not dragging your best friend around by the arm? Is it really hard to avoid telling your adult best friends to be quiet when they’re upset?
Treat your kids the way you would want to be treated – with kindness, with respect, with love – they deserve nothing less and in your best moments as a parent/caretaker, you know that’s true.