“I saved your kid from walking in front of a slide.”
“Oh gosh thanks ever so much! I thought she was going for the entrance. She is faster than I thought!”
This should have been the conversation between myself and a fairground worker. Both having read and interpreted the situation with understanding and empathy.
This is what actually happened:
“Can you look after your kid properly, she just walked in front of the slide.”
“You’re over there not watching your kid and I just pulled her out of the way of that kid sliding down. You need to pay more attention.”
“I WAS watching my kid, I thought she was going for the entrance but swapped over at the last minute. Hang on, that’s unacceptable you are speaking to me in this way.”
“Well, you should be looking after your kid properly”
She was rude and intentionally rude. She spoke to me with venom and utter distaste. I was ‘another’ shitty parent who didn’t give a shit about her kid and I needed a good telling off.
The parent of the sliding kid also reiterated the claim, if not slightly more elegantly.
“She did come out of nowhere and my kid nearly went into her.”
Hang on. I’m not one of those parents who sit and blame others in this blameless culture. Kids walk in front of swings. They walk into doorframes. They walk I front of kids sliding down a helter skelter. IT HAPPENS. No harm done, crisis averted, fairground worker saves the day probably for the 100th time just that day.
“I wasn’t expecting her to walk in front of the slide but I won’t have you speak to me in this way in front of my children. We WERE going to go on this slide but we won’t be at all now!”
As it was, it was the first time I stood up for myself in that situation. I could have apologised profusely for my careless parenting. I could have scolded my child for being careless. That woman could have felt triumphant at reprimanding another crap parent.
Both kids were crying. I was shaking.
Something inside of me burned. I spoke to my daughter and told her of my plan. Any other time I would have walked away, my face burning and my heart crushed.
I went back to the fairground worker.
“Excuse me. I wanted to have the opportunity for my children to see that even though sometimes adults speak to each other in a rude way, it is not ok. When you spoke to me rudely, I answered back rudely and that wasn’t ok. I understand this is your job and you need to keep all children safe but to acuse me of poor parenting is not ok. We won’t be using your slide. But i wanted to show my kids it’s much better to speak to another adult with respect.”
“Thank you for coming back to talk to me.”
“Thank you for listening.”
And off we went. I was shaking and almost in tears. Why this provoked such a strong emotion I don’t know.
We later went on to another ride where my toddler changed her mind twice mid-ride. This fairground worker was so understanding and lovely about it. I thanked her warmly but really my thanks went deeper than just allowing my kid off the ride twice. My thanks extended to her as a person who treated me like a person.
“It’s ok, it happens a lot. Kids change their minds. It’s ok.”
I thank both of these fairground workers.
The first made me stand up for my self even when it made me shake.
The second restored my faith in humanity.