When does it go from judgemental mum to common sense?

Sat by the kids pool on holiday last week, I found myself with the question: when do we cross over from being judgemental mums to being concerned parents with a touch of common sense and decency.

Picture the scene: kids pool, gloriously shallow and perfect for the kids to wade in whilst parents sit around the outside and watch whilst reading a book and sipping something tasty. Me, sitting on the lounger with one eye on the kids and one eye reading a book for the first time during the day in forever, basically living my best life in the sunshine. The dulcet tones of my seven year old broke the peace, across the pool and in full ear shot of 90% of parents who were either in the pool or on the loungers trying to grab a rest. “Mummmmm, Oscar (name changed on the off chance anyone from that holiday ever reads this post… which they won’t, but ya know) just said f you to me. He keeps doing that finger thing you told me never to do! The one that isn’t a peace sign!” Heads swing to look at Reuben, a relative silence settles over the pool. Do I tell him not to tattle-tail? Well, yes, no one likes a dickhead and if you’re that kid that tells on everyone then you really are going to end up left out. That wasn’t the only thing the collective pool community seemed to be waiting for as the tell-tail told his story – the parents of “Oscar” were sat IN the pool. Were they going to say anything? Perhaps explain to their child, who could be heard loud and clear shouting “Fuck you” at various intervals and had flicked the v’s more times than I could count (and was indeed doing it as Reuben shouted over in his outrage).

The truth? No, they hardly looked up from lounging in the pool (which was meant for small children and adults playing with them, not as a proverbial water bed for the slovenly and ignorant to splay out and block off with their full body length), despite hearing two other people tell their own children over the course of the hour we were playing to stay away from “Oscar” because he had hurt them or was being a blatant shit (which all kids are at times – not sorry), they never did more than a simple “Oscar don’t do that love” or not even that just “Oscar… come here” only to be totally ignored and subsequently return to lounging and their conversations, forgetting what issue they had intended to raise with their child.

After the child squirted Toby in the eye with his squirt gun and made him cry, I found it really difficult to stop my judgey pants from riding up my arse and turning me into a pious cow who couldn’t help but sit in total judgement of these people. How could you actively ignore your child in a swimming pool, a child that couldn’t be more than 5/6? Why would you want your child swearing in a pool and have absolutely nothing to say about it? Who would allow a child to hurt other children and STILL have no reprimand for them? As we were leaving the pool I noticed that “Oscar” wasn’t there anymore, his mum was walking back from the bar with a cocktail in hand and I couldn’t help but overhear her (no really, they were stationed on the loungers behind us) declare to her partner “I’ve left Oscar down there. At least he can’t upset nobody down there. He’ll be alright.” To clarify, this was the deep (1.2m, but too deep for Toby who was about the same height) pool with a small children’s play area. I hope there was another adult with him but to be honest I’m not sure. The lifeguards were there I suppose. This child wasn’t a stranger to me either, the night before he had been playing in the play area with the boys, parents both in the bar – which I didn’t judge as the area is secure, it wouldn’t work for me but that is me and it’s not the same for everyone – and he came to chat to me a few times, left his drink and cash (a whopping 2 EURO) on the table, asking Adam and I to look after it instead of going in to his parents. Upon reflection this just seems like a really sad caption to the boy’s holiday.

I couldn’t help but question though, because I will not lie, I absolutely 100% was judging these parents and not in a kind way, was it fair to judge? To think ill of them? Who am I to whisper to Adam that it’s so inappropriate to ignore your child and behave irresponsibly? I know we all relax a bit more on holiday, our kids get away with more, we care less about the things that would drive us barmy at home but at what point does it become a case of being another concerned adult as opposed to being a judgemental twat? As someone who can’t abide mum shaming, parental judging, I find myself at odds when I can’t help but be judgemental. I always try to look for the reason – is this child perhaps special needs and that is why they are playing rough? Maybe they are just heavy handed and mum is stepping in to correct them but missed it this time – she’s on holiday too, let her catch a break. Perhaps the child is acting out and having a tough time, maybe dad is struggling to cope and that’s why they are acting ambivalent at the bar… there are a bajillion reasons that “bad” behaviour occurs, so it’s important not to be judgemental but to be honest sometimes it’s damn near impossible when you see a scenario like this… so at what point does it become less judgmental asshole sat at the side of the pool wishing your child wouldn’t keep flicking the v’s at mine and calling him a fucking dickhead and more about an expectation of social etiquette and basic decency, plus a concern for a child who frankly doesn’t seem to be a priority from the outside looking in? Is there ever an excuse for behaving so around a child? I don’t know, but what I do know is that as much as I tried, I couldn’t help but judge and I will spend a lot of my time wondering if “Oscar” is enjoying his holiday or looking for someone else’s table to pop change on and lashing out at children in the pool whilst his parents slurp cocktails.

8 Comments

  1. Bekki
    June 5, 2018 / 6:14 pm

    I have a special needs boy, he’s 13 but mentally about 8. He had a tracheotomy and has only recently had major surgery to secure his airway allowing the former hole to be properly closed and therefore has been in a swimming pool for the first time in his life this year. He swears at home sometimes, getting carried away playing on his blasted X-Box One but he is always admonished and if he repeats the offence he is to come off the console. I dread something like a holiday, especially abroad, because my daughter also has behavioural needs due to APD and when she was younger she would have definitely upset someone! Not intentionally, but she would’ve been too rough and therefore it wasn’t something my nerves could have taken. I cannot understand going on holiday and not embracing having your children with you. I understand we all need a break and that includes from our children at times but surely there are children activity clubs one can leave ones child at for an hour so one can get a manny-pedi or something? Personally, because of my son, I don’t drink, not even one tipple whilst I have my children at home. I don’t judge anyone who has a glass of vino of an evening, but after a decade of my son having life saving equipment at home and a respite nurse sleeping over, I’ve just gotten into the habit of not doing so; having cocktails in the day whilst in sole charge of a five or six year old is just not something I’d be personally comfortable with.
    That all being said, I do swear a whole bunch. They’re words and I love words- hence this lengthy babbled response. Ugh. Being a human is hard!! I think being a bit judgey inside your head is totes fine, Harriet! 🙌🏻♥️

  2. Lynn Howell
    June 5, 2018 / 12:42 pm

    Its tough subject. Me personally if someone saw my child doing something and I for whatever reason didn’t see it or address it I think its appropriate for another adult to say something. I was raised in a way in which adults could advise me and I was to respect them. However I know not all feel this way. AKA my sister in law who gets very angry if you ask her children to stop doing things like putting their hands in dogs mouths or going into a house when they are at an outside party.

  3. June 5, 2018 / 9:31 am

    It’s sad for the child. It obviously wasn’t new for him to be left on his own, be it at the pool or in the play area as leaving his drink and cash with you showed. If he wasn’t used to being left, he would have been back and forth to his parents all night. He probably gets told to eff himself or at least hear’s it being said. I try not to judge but that’s just lazy parenting. Everyone needs a break but if the child is school age……there’s your break. 9am -3.30pm, Monday to Friday.

    • Harriet June 5, 2018 / 12:30 pm

      I felt so Hannah, he was with 2 older brothers and a couple of older girls and one of the girls said to Reuben that if he told her brother off again she would rip his fucking face off. She was well into her teens. Just… why?!

  4. June 5, 2018 / 5:47 am

    I would’ve said something to them for sure x

    • Harriet June 5, 2018 / 8:29 am

      I think that’s the issue isn’t it? We’re so busy not being judgemental but inwardly questioning if it’s more than just judgement. x

      • Sarah
        October 22, 2018 / 7:43 am

        I think by the sounds of it you couldn’t say anything incase your got your f’n face ripped off!! That’s not being judgy thou that’s a child (and parents) not conforming to social norms. It’s not like you didn’t like what they dressed him in, he was being a bully and noone likes a bully. All kids will swear in public (if you are reading this and it hasn’t happened you yet…. Don’t judge cos its coming) the public reaction is usually dependent on your reaction as a parent. Sounds like there were some serious issues in that household. What young lady threatens to rip a little boys face off…. Like seriously why??

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