This is Whinnie.
She is a wonderful, sparkly, beautiful, intelligent, curious and very loved little girl. She is friendly and open and kind. She is accustomed to random strangers stopping to tell her she is lovely or to comment on her fashion choices (princess costumes, tiaras, etc.) She goes out into the world feeling calm and confident and ready to learn and meet. These are very good things. 😀
Yesterday, though, she was hurt. 😦
We were grocery shopping. She was being her usual engaged, sparkly, happy, exploring self. She orbits about the shopping cart never straying very far, never getting in anyone’s way, always helping.
Quite out of the blue a woman approaches her (and I since Whinnie was next to me) wags her finger in Whinnie’s face and says, essentially:
You are going to be a very lovely lady some day
BUT only if you are more obedient and less stubborn.
Her attack was completely and totally unprovoked and without merit; I was speechless.
I wanted to ask this woman what the hell she was doing. But I looked at Whinnie and realized how deeply this woman’s words (and the invasion that they and she represented) were impacting her.
Thankfully I had the presence of mind to ignore the stranger entirely; engaging her would have done absolutely no good. Instead I dropped to my knees and enveloped Whinnie in a protective hug. I cradled her and told her that ‘some people are just crazy and it is best to not listen to them.’ I neither know nor care if the woman heard me. She relinquished her right to my good manners the moment she accosted my 5 year old.
It was painful to look into Whinnie’s eyes and see the betrayal she felt. Her tears were real and the hurt was evident. I reassured her that her behavior and choices were absolutely ok with me; she needed to hear that more than anything at that moment — just as she needed to climb into the cart’s seat and rest her head on my chest while I finished the shopping.
Why blog about this today?
The purpose for me is to celebrate a moment of mindful parenting. In past years (or maybe even months) my reaction might have been very different. I might have either gotten into an argument with ‘the crazy woman’ or I might have been concerned about the random judgment of a stranger and not noticed that my child needed me.
I did not engage this woman; I gathered my child in my arms and walked away without a word. I didn’t give a damn what she thought of my parenting abilities or choices. I only cared about my child and the very big emotions she was feeling at that moment.
When Nic returned (he was getting something from another aisle) and heard about the incident he was livid. He was in full-blown ‘no one hurts my baby sister’ mode instantly. 😉
As we drove home Nic and I discussed what obedience means and what people expect of children. Nic observed that maybe people who expected obedience from children should just stick with caring for dogs.
Well said, Nic. Well said. 😀