Last Sunday, we went shopping for groceries and household necessities at a hypermart, as soon as BabyMoo fell asleep. In an unwelcome turn of events, he woke up barely 20 min later, and no amount of coaxing or carrying (my poor arms!) would make him go back to sleep.
So there we were, with a cranky, whiny kid, trying to grab everything as fast as we could, not helped by the fact that it was crowded and although all the cashier’s lanes were open, the queues snaked all the way in-store. I tried to distract him with all kinds of things, but the more I tried to entertain him, the more antsy he became, especially since he was strapped in.
While the hubs queued to pay, I decided to take the boy out of the store, because by that time, his whining was already threatening to escalate to a full blown meltdown. Just before he fell asleep, he was promised an arcade visit when he wakes up, and he was simply asking for what’s due to him. I explained repeatedly to him that we will go immediately after Daddy pays for the items, and that he has to wait while he does so.
Now, the thing about BabyMoo is that he responds much better when you have a conversation with him, rather than if an adult were to raise their voice or behaves in a threatening manner. He cuts a mean deal, and will always honour his end of the bargain because we have always made it a point to do what we have promised (this includes times when he has had his toys thrown away after 3 warnings, because he refuses to listen and was disobedient).
Perhaps it was the lack of sufficient sleep after water play that did it, or maybe he was just in a bad mood – but at that moment, he simply refused to listen to me, reason with me, or quieten down. He wanted to go to the arcade, and demanded to go there. Nothing I did or said could placate him.
He started screaming, then bawling, and then flailing his arms and legs (he was still strapped in). He had a full blown meltdown, the kind which I’ve never seen him do because he simply did not want to listen. Oh, I’ve seen him cry because he’s sad, or upset, or because he was in pain. But never because he wanted to do something, and wanted it there and then. No matter how stubborn he is, we could always still reason things out. I suspect that him being in the stroller also added on to his frustrations, and heightened his anger.
There I was, trying to calm him down at a corner, and there was this middle aged couple (with their son, who looks to be about 7 – 8 years of age) who was paying at one of the lanes, and would.not.stop.staring!! They didn’t even bother stealing glances at us, they simply stared.
What? Their son never had a public meltdown before? If so, I congratulate them for being able to keep him in check effectively. Why did I not take BabyMoo away from the situation, you ask. Simply because I was not used to him behaving in that manner (good times ahead), and I was still trying to calm him down, while trying not to lose it myself.
Mums would (hopefully) empathise with the situation, and perhaps some of you will also understand that once you become a Mum, you develop a rather ‘thick skin’, and you learn not to get too affected by things which may previously embarrass you. Furthermore, parenting is a process of trial and error, as we are constantly kept on our toes as the little ones try to outsmart us.
So I did the one thing which I would not condone, if I were not so pissed off by the fact that they were simply staring, and judging me.
I told BabyMoo, loudly: “Please calm down. You see, they are staring at you. The more you cry and scream, the more they will stare at us, ok? Darling, we will go once Daddy pays for the groceries. Now please stop, otherwise they will continue to stare!”
And they still stared! Unreal.
As though that’s not enough, there was a road show organised by one of the banks at the open space just outside the hypermart. While all this was happening (BabyMoo bawling, screaming, the couple staring and I was trying to calm him down while attempting to make the couple embarrassed to be caught staring) one of the credit card sales person, approached me, to ask if I was interested in applying for the *bleep* bank card.
I was so shocked beyond words, that I could do nothing but stare at the dude, while he goes on and on... extolling the benefits of signing up with him. I wonder if it once occurred to him that I could only see his lips move, since I had a kid screaming in my ear.
Ah well. I suppose he had quotas to meet, and flustered Mums trying to deal with a toddler having a meltdown was not one of the scenarios they were presented with during their training. Bulldoze on, dude. While I admire your dedication to your company, you have just succeeded in only making me form a not-so-wonderful impression of all that you represent.
The basic fundamental trait in social etiquette is to simply be polite in any given situation, especially when it involves social harmony and well-being. As much as I have tried to ignore individuals whom I have come across in all aspects of life that have made me truly question civility these days, I have found myself far too often in situations whereby the blatant disregard for social graces leaves me at a loss for words.
This has made me realise the importance of educating the boy on social graces, especially as we progress in a society whereby at times, its people have almost forgotten how to be civilized.
No amount of courtesy campaigns or community service messages will help, if people themselves don't understand that what they are doing is socially unacceptable. With the progress of 'social advancements', I suppose there is a significant price to pay. People forget how to interact in real life without the safety screen of cyberspace. The younger ones are simply unfamiliar with social etiquette because they may be used to social media dealings instead.
Will there come a time when social graces are deemed unnecessary because nobody bothers, anyway? If that day comes, it will probably signify the end of humanity. It seems such a perfect irony, that even as the emphasis now falls on business etiquette and international protocol, the skills used to interact in every day social situations have diminished over the years.
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