I recently read a post by fellow mum blogger Mother's Always Right who was sharing with her readers a rather upsetting supermarket incident with the main players being her crying newborn, an over abundance of new-parent hormones and an insensitive comment from the cashier. With a little one the same age, the story was all too familiar, as it was for many of her followers, which is why I thought it would be a good idea to write about my own experience. New mums and dads out there suffering at the hands of an intolerant and impatient public - you are not alone.
My "incident" happened when the little man was about seven months old. We were queueing up in a supermarket (why does it always happen in a supermarket?) and he was enjoying experimenting with his voice – not crying, just seeing what sounds he could make. As I was paying, an elderly man who was sitting, reading the paper and waiting for his wife to finish packing their shopping, was clearly irritated by my son's babbling and spat out “shut up” in our direction. I don’t think he meant me to hear but unfortunately for him I did and I was filled with a hot flush of indignation.
I can understand that a baby making rather loud sounds with his voicebox might grate on the nerves but we weren’t in a library or a restaurant which made him completely out of order – and I told him so. To quote – “Don’t tell him to shut up, he is just experimenting with his voice.” And as I swept away – “Learn some manners.”
Usually I work out what I should have said half an hour after the event so I was somewhat surprised but pleased that I actually managed to have my say. I suppose it might have been my maternal instinct to protect and defend but it felt good. Despite that, I remained upset for the rest of the day and the next time I was in the supermarket and the little man started getting chatty again, a wave of panic came over me that we might be disturbing others. It was a horrible as it made me feel like an unwanted outcast – that we should stay inside and do not disturb until he has at least learnt his social graces.
I would ask that elderly man to think back to when he had young children and whether he would have wanted their mother to be made to feel the same. I think not.