The Parent Trip – Give each other a break

I’m writing this week’s column specifically for the people who don’t have kids.

  • Apr. 18, 2015 6:00 a.m.

By Shelby Cain

I’m writing this week’s column specifically for the people who don’t have kids. The child-free population may normally use my column to line litter-boxes or paint ceramic mugs, but if you’re not a parent and do read my weekly testimonials, thank you. I can only guess that the person I am going to tell you about did not have kids, so I must group her with you guys. I apologize in advance.

I know my experience is an anomaly. Most of the people I cross paths with who don’t have kids watch us with a grin and a glint of reminiscence in their eyes. They rock. But at times, we’ve all judged. Sat beside a noisy family in a restaurant or watched a mother march out of a store with a kid under her arm and thought, “Why don’t they put a stop to that?” I’m guilty of it too.

Then you become a parent, and quickly, you are dramatically humbled.

You realize that while you would love to have control over the situation, these little humans are masterful at throwing you a curveball when you least expect it. Especially in public. We don’t want to be the people who leave our table in a restaurant looking like a dumpster or come and ask you to use your bathroom when it clearly states they are not for public use. Just so you know, we’re mortified. We want to curl in a ball or run screaming.  But we can’t. We’re parents. So last week I was attempting to run a few errands with Four and Six. Suddenly, Four was ravaged with thirst. The kid needed water immediately. I had just used my last loonie, but as we walked by a restaurant I had a revelation. They have a tap with plastic glasses. I know this because I eat at this restaurant often. So we ducked in and walked over to the tap as one of the staff members turned to greet us, only to quickly deduce what we were up to. “Hi!” I said cheerfully and with that tone of camaraderie among women, “We’re just grabbing a quick drink.” Her expression darkened, and with a look of disgust and a roll of her eyes she turned her back.You know when you’re so shocked by someone else’s behaviour that you become completely mute? I let Four finish her sip, put the plastic cup in the dish bin and walked out.

As I hit the street my brain was flooded with the perfect things to say. So to the very few of you out there who judge, please consider this: I’m doing my best. One day you might be in my shoes, and sometimes they’re a little uncomfortable. Let’s give each other a break.