I once wrote that one of the more frustrating phrases for a non-mother to hear is "you wouldn't understand because you don't have children". It's a pet peeve of mine. It's patronizing and not always accurate. Ironically, I recently found myself saying those words...to myself...in my head.
It all took place on the subway, where everything blog-worthy in my life seems to occur. I was happily sitting for my commute home. Unlike most evening commutes, there were plenty of open seats. A mother and her toddler walked onto the subway. The toddler was relatively sturdy on her feet with the curliest brown hair I have ever seen. My first inner thought was - what a cutie.
|Remember Curly Sue? Another cutie with curly hair. |
She's all growns up and recently had a baby.
Upon entering the subway car, the mother immediately asked her mini me to sit in an empty seat between me and another woman. The toddler partly refused and partly ignored the request. Unphased, the mother then asked the toddler to sit in different empty seat. Again, the toddler refused and this time walked away from the mother. My interest perked. How was the mother going to handle this blatant disobedience in such a public forum? Plus, the train was about to start moving, safety was becoming an issue.
The mother calmly followed the toddler's path, asking her to sit in yet another seat. No dice. The train started to move. Ultimately the toddler didn't sit. Instead, she placed her small hands on a pole and spun. She spun and spun and spun as the train moved and shook and wobbled to its next stop. And as the whirling dervish made circles, the mother turned to a nearby stranger and said "she's just crazy!" in a genuinely tickled, proud tone.
|FYI - These are whirling dervishes.|
I already told you my first, distinct inner thought. Here was my second: she's crazy because you let her be crazy. I didn't understand how this mother let her two-year-old so blatantly defy her. I didn't understand how this mother let her two-year-old behave objectively dangerous. No one should be spinning around those subway poles while the train is moving regardless of age. Those sort of antics are reserved for drunk college kids who typically crack open their heads at the end of the show. More than anything, I didn't understand how this mother was seemingly pleased with her defiant child and neither embarrassed nor fuming.
Before I accidentally made a sour face to match my sour thoughts, I reminded myself that the hellion wasn't mine. And, more importantly, who knows how I will eventually act and feel when it is my hellion. So, truth be told, I didn't understand.