Yesterday me, Squidge and the Northern One went to visit some friends in London. It was a lovely, sunny day so we all decided to go out for a long walk to the park and then along the river front to make the most of the sunny weather.
When Squidge is anywhere apart from home (even nursery) he is an absolute nightmare to get down for a nap. He’s just so convinced that going to sleep will mean that he’ll miss out on something and so will only sleep when he eventually crashes out from sheer exhaustion.
Yesterday was no exception and by the time we went out for the walk his little eyes were drooping and his head was starting to nod but it still took a good half an hour before he eventually fell asleep in his backpack carrier.
Anyone who has had small children or who spends any length of time around them knows that they can fall asleep in the strangest places and be quite comfortable in positions that would leave us with a bad back and cricked neck for days afterwards.
On this occasion Squidge managed to fall asleep sitting up with his head at a right angle to his shoulder and lolling out of the carrier. I did briefly try to and straighten him into a more comfortable position but the angry shrieks and wails that accompanied my efforts quickly put paid to that.
He seemed quite happy where he was and I figured that if he became uncomfortable he’d wake up and mount his own form of noisy protest.
What I hadn’t anticipated was that a significant proportion of the people outside enjoying
drinking in the sunshine would feel that it was their place to pass comment on my allowing Squidge to sleep in his chosen position.
Clearly some people just thought that he looked a bit comical but there were more than a few who decided to make their opinions on my skill as a parent known.
Fortunately they caught me on a day when I was in a fairly positive mood and I refused to take anything from what they said, other than the fact that they were nosy and had nothing better to do than pick holes in someone else’s parenting.
Had they decided to pass judgement on a day when I was feeling less than positive then my reaction would probably have been rather different.
It’s no one’s fault that I have the issues that I do and that on some days I feel like the worst mum in the world but I’m also of the opinion that people should think for a few seconds before opening their mouths to pass comment about people that they don’t know.
Hearing one of those comments today would probably have had me in tears.
It’s something that I hear from a lot of ex-NICU parents when they bring their little ones in for their yearly check up at the NICU outpatients clinic. In a lot of cases the only thing that sets these babies apart from other children their age is that they’re often quite a lot smaller but apparently the general public still feel the need to say something.
These parents are often still not very confident in looking after their babies outside of the hospital and a stranger asking how old their baby is and then stating that they’re far smaller than their daughter/nephew/mum’s-door-neighbour’s-grandchild was at that age can put a huge dent in an ex-NICU parent’s fledgling confidence.
It may seem like a harmless, throwaway comment but to these parents in particular they can be very damaging. As far as these parents are concerned their baby is enormous compared to when they were first born and even when they left the hospital. They have spent weeks and sometimes months clinging tightly to every gram that their baby has gained, using it as proof that their little one is getting stronger and healthier.
To have someone then tell them that their baby is tiny can suddenly make them wonder if they’re doing as well as they thought.
I know one mum who, when a stranger commented on how small her baby was, felt compelled to shout after them that actually it was their baby who was enormous.
It may seem like an overreaction to some harmless words from a stranger but for so many people, whether it be due to mental health issues, fears for their children, lacking in confidence as a parent or just generally having a bad day, these words aren’t harmless.
I don’t want to patronise anyone by telling you that the words of others can only hurt you if you let them because I know that, hard as you try, sometimes words do hurt.
But if you do ever find yourself on the receiving end of a ‘throwaway’ comment then try to remember.
Some people just can’t help themselves.