The Kindness of Strangers
With 4 young children, it is only on the very rare occasion that I dare to venture out to a shopping centre with all four offspring and no back-up adult in sight. However with these very long school holidays, and my ever-growing to-do list, it was a chore that I could not put off any longer. Armed with a shopping list, products to be returned (fabulous way to alleviate buyer’s remorse), Medicare receipts (is this the most painful chore EVER), and my SD card chocked full of photos (more on Project Life in posts to come), I set off feeling like I was about to launch a full-scale attack on the poor unsuspecting shopping centre customers – Make way for the lady with a pram, and two crazy toddlers, and one not so crazy young lady!!!
So we started off well, Lucy had a feed while the others enjoyed morning tea in the food court and then off we went. Shop after shop after shop. Queue after queue after queue. I was expecting it, but not quite so soon……I’m tired……I’m bored……..Don’t push me……. and then the kids started whining ;) !
They were doing so well and hanging in there as best they could. But I could feel that every step was getting slower and shorter until I felt like we were actually walking in slow motion….completely with the warped and fuzzy soundtrack screaming in my head.
And then Katie hit the wall…literally. She’s a little cracker, my Katie, and when she loses it, she really puts on a show. Here we are in the middle of Big W with tantrum number one. She was hungry and she was tired and she wanted to be anywhere but here. So what else can one do but sit down and throw a good old-fashioned wobbly!
My theory on tantrums is that you move far enough away to not be “rewarding” the behaviour, but stay close enough to make sure she is “safe”. And then wait. Let her go for it. Heck – it’s what I felt like doing too, so I was kind of living vicariously through her! And then when she has expelled the last bit of crankiness, she picks herself up, walks calmly over and we have a big long cuddle. We ‘Keep Calm, and Carry On’.
But then it happens again. And again. And again. By this time I am watching the clock – praying for time to go quicker so I can pick up the darn photos and GO HOME! Finally – 1pm – HOORAY!!!!!!! I just about run to the photo counter, fling my receipt on the counter, and almost cry tears of relief when the photos are finally in my hands. We are on a mission, let’s get these kids to the car. By this stage EVERYONE is cranky, but we are like soldiers on a parade ground - keep moving, one step at a time.
Just then I hear footsteps catching up to me, then a tap on the shoulder. I turn and see a strange lady smiling at me, so I hesitantly smile back (oh please not now, don’t try to sell me anything now!). And she says “I’m sorry to bother you but I just wanted to tell you what a beautiful family you have.” I am gobsmacked. I politely mumble “Thank you” and she continues, “And your baby is just so gorgeous – you are so lucky”. And I don’t know whether to burst into tears or hug her on the spot. Instantly I can feel the black cloud above me lifting, and I grin back at her and tell her that she has no idea what a lovely thing that was for me to hear – right then at that moment. And I look down and see little Lucy grinning up at her, and then at me.
And I realise that I am truly lucky! And it took a perfect stranger, just thirty seconds to make a horrible day turn into a wonderful day. Just thirty seconds! I nearly skipped back to the car, feeling like the happiest mum in the world.
Thank you Ms Stranger – whoever you are. You made my day – and you most certainly made me smile!