I’m afraid we’ve developed into “that couple” with “The Look”. The look isn’t glamorous or trendy. It’s not one that I’ve desired, but I believe it’s found me like it will find every adult eventually.
“The Look” sneaks up on everyone. Then one day you realize you have it and there’s no going back.
I’m talking about “The Look” given to other parents when their children are misbehaving, are out of control, crying, whining, and any other annoying thing you may think a small child or baby would do. I have personally received those looks!
I can remember sitting in Olive Garden with our soon to be one year old. He was sitting in his high chair and looking all around at other tables. He was waving and being so cute. At some point crankiness set in and he began to fuss. The fussing turned into crying and before we could enjoy the rest of our linguine, he was in a total meltdown.
It was like a code blue situation in a hospital. My husband and I began reaching for toys, snacks, a bottle, and anything to resuscitate the happiness back into this screaming baby. We knew we needed to vacate the premises immediately. But before we could enjoy our last bite of their delicious bread sticks, we had to pay. Looking around for the waitress, we began catching “The Look” from other tables. Adults were hurling icy stares in our direction with tight lips and shaking their heads in disapproval. In my mind I know they were sending messages “Why can’t you stop him from crying?” and “You need to leave instead of ruining our meal.” I can’t say that I blame them. We didn’t want our meal ruined either, but parents never plan meltdowns of a baby or toddler…they just happen. And they happen in the most inconvenient and crowded places.
I received those looks in stores, restaurants, airplanes (my favorite), and of course church. Right in the middle of the Christmas Eve candlelight service with all the beautiful candles lit, my son started singing, “Happy Birthday to you!” It was Jesus’ birthday after all. But the old couples looking at us sternly were not in the mood to celebrate!
One time in Target, my then three year old daughter was having a meltdown about some crayons that I wouldn’t buy, or a dog treat that I wouldn’t get for the dog, or some other item that she kept asking me to purchase. I kept saying “No” as strongly as I could, when she stomped her feet and stated she wasn’t leaving. “The Look” started popping up from other adults watching to see how I would handle this showdown. I did what every mother of a strong willed child has to do on occasion and called her bluff. I remember saying, “Fine. I’m going home.” I proceeded to walk towards the check out lanes. Soon the pitter patter of little shoes was close behind me screaming, “Mommy don’t leave me!” Now more looks. Great.
Then children grow, become less of a public embarrassment, and it happens. One day I hear a meltdown occurring in the produce section of the grocery store. I turned to look and see what grotesque creature was ruining my shopping for a Pinterest recipe that was already doomed to fail (because they usually do). I gave “The Look”! The baby was bright red and the mother was quickly placing apples in a bag. My look was saying “Really? You’re worried about apples? You’re kid is as red as the one you just picked out. For heavens sake run and don’t look back! Leave the basket, grab your child and go!” I couldn’t believe my impatience but it didn’t stop there I’m ashamed to say.
In the mall at a children’s clothing store, a lady was next to me with her stroller that was so large I assumed it was NASA’s latest Mars Rover project. Her toddler was running around the store getting into everything while I was trying to shop. I kept giving her “The Look”. Interpretation, “Can you please quiet your kid and move the space mobile?” Ugh. I did it again. Each look made me feel horrible later on. Why did I just look at another mom this way? Why am I not being more empathetic?
We’ve aged and so have our kids, and by doing so we have forgotten how hard it is to parent little ones. When they’re babies they can’t tell you why they’re crying. Moms and dads are just as frustrated as the poor baby. We also are accustomed to more quietness. As our kids have started reading books or watching television, they just naturally begin to quiet a little. The house isn’t inundated with temper tantrums about a dirty diaper, being hungry, or Barney singing “I Love You, You Love Me”. Thank you Lord that part of childhood is over.
Our kids begin to act in a socially acceptable fashion and follow our cues. Now when we go to restaurants they are old enough to order for themselves. They are more likely to reach for our cell phones and play games than to cry and throw food. We still see babies out in restaurants, church, and stores. They bring challenges to their parents, and one day they will grow older and their parents can enjoy being in public again. And those adults will begin to give “The Look” to their younger counterparts just as we have. It’s a cycle. It’s life.
We’ve got “The Look” and will try hard not to use it. I will from now on only promise to use it for situations that are really dire and when messages must be conveyed…”Lady your Mars Rover stroller is taking off…hopefully with you and your baby on board!” There I go again.