On Sunday’s I have a little ritual. I go to my local cafe, have a late breakfast, read a book and people watch.
It’s so interesting to see how people in my neighbourhood dress. How the older people pair their beige trousers with their white shirt and dark blue jumper. How the parents all look a like. The colours are the same. Beige, brown, dark blue, dark green, a hint of red. Not all at the same time, of course. But those are the main colours you should be wearing if you want to blend in.
Children are very well dressed. They look like they’ve been 3D’d out of a classic catalogue and taken out for a walk. Girls wear big ribbons in their hair, with matching socks that go to their knees and a-line dresses. Boys wear shorts, socks to their knees – as well – and a jumper. It puzzles me, because it must take so much time to find the exact match to these accessories. Especially if you have more than one child.
I had a look at this picture perfect family. All four children were dressed a like. Two boys and two girls. One of the youngest ones was throwing a tantrum and was crying inside the cafe. Her mother took her outside and said she had to stop crying or else she would not be aloud to come in again. This made her cry even more and her mother went inside the cafe without her, but remained close enough so she could keep an eye on her offspring.
The girl kept weeping and weeping. People passed by and immediately started looking for the parents, which they would find in a nanosecond. After a few more minutes, the whole family left the cafe and the father took over. He grabbed the child’s arm leaned in to her and told her she should stop crying. He was not in a good mood and the poor girl just couldn’t stop herself.
I wanted so badly to give this girl a hug. Or tell her parents that all she needed was a hug. Her parents hug. But who am I to say that? A woman with no kids yet telling a family of four children how to react towards their own flesh and blood? It would come across as arrogant, I would make them feel they were bad parents, the girl would be confused. I was only putting myself in the child’s shoes, thinking how alone she must have felt and misunderstood. She was trying to express something through her crying but could not say it, yet the parents dismissed her by telling her to stop crying, which the child would take as a “I don’t care about your feelings.”
I decided not to say anything to the parents, as I tried to put myself in their shoes too. Four children. It must take ages to get ready to get out of the house. How many tantrums have they heard before getting to the cafe? How many hours of sleep did they get? They must be exhausted and really trying to do their best. What if what I saw was an exception to the rule? What if they’re always caring and good listeners? What if this time they were both having a miserable day, because they had had two hours of interrupted sleep, both had stepped on a lego when they got out of bed, the youngest child (a toddler) had challenged Nature itself when it comes to how much poop can come out of a baby in a short time span?
And you know what? I’m glad I didn’t say anything, because the last time I caught a glimpse of that family, they were walking away, and their not-so-sad-girl being carried by her Mummy. So this is where I quote princess Diana. Because Diana. That is why!
“Hugs can do great amounts of good – especially for children.”