Family, Melbourne, Parenting

To the man who took it upon himself to discipline my children

It was a random Saturday, late-morning, and my family and I were at the local shopping centre. We’d popped in for a few essentials for lunch and a few items that I’d forgotten in the Big Shop, the day before.

As we were making our way back out, two of my cherubs decided to climb on the small step that makes up the side-rail from the end of one down escalator to the start of the next one.  It’s quite a lead-up, probably at least three metres.  Sure, we’ve told the kids numerous times not to climb on them, especially now they’re getting older, but they went ahead and did it anyway.  Hubster and I were too far back to call out to them (without sounding like screaming bogans) and they weren’t being silly, so we let it go.  Pick your battles.  They climbed onto the escalator then had the presence of mind to look behind them and noticed that we were at least three people, or two trolleys, back.  So, they walked back up, to one side of the escalator to come back to us.

This is where you came in.  You were waiting to board the escalator, and you decided to tell them off for ‘playing’.  Firstly, they weren’t playing on the escalator.  Secondly, they weren’t even mucking around.  They’d simply got ahead of me and their dad, and they were walking—yes, walking—back to us.  Now, I don’t know what it is about older people thinking they’ve a right to discipline the children of others, strangers, but it’s not OK.  My son and daughter (our other son had stayed with us) were quite shaken by your admonishment. My son in particular was upset, and as he came back to me, I reassured him that he’d done nothing wrong, and it was not your place to tell him off.  I had to do a lot of placating.  The woman in front of us, and behind you, turned around and gave us a smile in solidarity.  I felt relieved.

I really wanted to go after you, do you know that?  But I chose to be a good example to my children.  I chose kindness, but I really wanted to choose giving you a good old talking to, for being a grumpy old man, for pointing out that you could’ve easily still got onto the escalator, and for reminding you that they are MY children, and I’ll tell them off when I think they’ve done the wrong thing.  Believe me, I do tell them off.  Sometimes I think I’m a bit hard on them, especially when it comes to consideration of others around them.  I’m always holding them back to let others go first, reminding them to say excuse me, or sorry.  Sometimes, Hubster tells me that I should lay off a bit, as they, as children, have rights in this world too.

And that’s what it boils down to, isn’t it?  Mr Grumpy Old Man, you just don’t think that children’s rights are equal to yours.  You had to wait a full THREE seconds longer before you were able to get on that escalator, and that really pissed you off.  You were delayed by my children and that is inexcusable in your eyes. Well, you know what, your behaviour is inexcusable in MY eyes, and in the eyes of my children, too.  And we’ve made an example of you in our house.  We often refer to you when I’m reminding my children to choose kindness.  I remind them of you, and how easy it would’ve been for you to step to one side, and let my kids come back to us, with no words spoken.

In future, please don’t tell off my children, or any others who are unknown to you. It’s not right, it’s not your place and you’re only making yourself look bad, and bringing the world down to a level that we, as a society, are trying to dredge it up from.

Choose kindness. Always.

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