Saturday, 14 January 2012

Three Types of People

There are two types of people in the world, tantrum onlookers who you know are thinking 'Why doesn't that mother show her child who's boss?' and tantrum onlookers who you know are thinking 'Why doesn't that mean spirited mother buy her darling a measly little bag of lollies?'

After reading Marianne's article about mums losing it I recalled an incident at a shopping complex supermarket in Bigtown not far from us. I was with little Batman (out of uniform), waiting in the checkout line for what always seems too long with a small child. He decided he wanted a bag of lollies he spied at eye level (everything eye level at that age is candy - it's not their fault).

I was tired, so why not say yes and make it easy for myself?
-because I had done a Parent Effectiveness Training course not long before and when you're tired you can't think straight so I decided to give 'active listening' a go...

LBat, pointing: 'I want that!'
Me: Oh - you want that.
LBat: Yes mum I want that.

Active listening works. It's where you listen actively to the person who has the problem.
By feeding back information we let the person with the problem know we understand what he's saying and even accept what he's saying.
We don't have to solve his problem but by listening and accepting we help him to see how he can solve it himself.
(It really just avoids the 'n' word which is a red rag to a bull - but if you can avoid the n word long enough the child tires of asking.)

The line gets nearer the checkout and I put our half dozen items down on the counter.
LBat: I want lollies!
(He's not as tired as me and I can see he could ask all afternoon.) I make a fatal mistake...
Me: No.

We are being served. He reaches for the lollies. Although he resists I pick him up and holding him firmly I turn him away from the counter as our purchases are scanned and bagged.
I pay the checkout girl and then with great dexterity and ease that comes from experience I swing the noisily protesting little Batman horizontal and with him facing away from my body I grasp him sideways in a strong hook grip under my arm and grab my bag of shopping with the other hand. I leave the supermarket with little Batman's arms flailing and legs kicking.
It's a long 200 meters to the car park but I'm a fearless invincible hunter warrior mother with the day's live catch under my arm.

People are looking at me and pretending not to - both types of people. But as I charge past them a third kind of person passes me. A beautiful silver haired lone old woman, who takes in the overly animated scene of a mother and child in gridlock, looks me in the eye and smiles.
My heart opens and I smile back.

As we continue to the exit little Batman senses the change in my demeanor and relaxes. Outside the complex we stop to sit on a bench and laugh and laugh till our sides ache.



  1. Well done. And thanks for the plug! I've learned to hand coveted items to check-out ladies and whisper "put this back." So by the time we get to the car and kid demands his crap, I blame grocery-person ineptitude. If they demand to go back in? "'s closing." I lie a lot.

  2. Marianne, you're clever and funny. It's great when kids are so young you can pull a swifty and change the subject and they don't notice? It's just 'Hey look at that over there!' and back on the shelf it goes.

  3. That's a great story. Well done!! :)


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