As my daughter and my niece got changed into their costumes on Looe Beach yesterday, your son was running around on the steps which we had chosen to sit on. Suddenly, he ran past the girls, said something in French and then spat at both of them. I saw it happen and, as he ran off, I tried to shout at him to tell him off. I wasn’t quick enough so Ross and I kept our eyes open and watched to see where he went and who his parents were.
He ran to you and, as he did so, I approached you – with some trepidation – to tell you what had happened. These days you don’t quite know what to expect. Would I get a mouthful of abuse as you protested that your son could do no wrong? Would I get a shrug of the shoulders and a non-plus response? Or would you believe what I had told you, and deal with your son?
I came out and explained that your son had spat at my girls. At first you were not quite sure what I was saying and then, you understood. You were extremely apologetic. I was relieved and said that I thought you should know as I would have wanted you to do this had it been the other way around.
I could see you were struggling with your energetic, I would guess 3 year old, boy – so left you to deal with him and returned to my family. Then, 5 minutes later, you approached us. When you reached us, you were trying to get your son to apologise to the girls. He had a very cheeky look on his face and was struggling to run away again as you held his wrist. Your expression was one of utter exasperation. I remember that feeling so well. You just said ‘Boys!’ and I understood exactly what you meant. As you walked away, you probably didn’t hear Ross and I congratulate you for trying to make him apologise. You were too busy making sure he didn’t run off again!
For most of the rest of our time on the beach, you were set out just in front of us but (I could see you had probably just wanted to sit and relax and enjoy the little sunshine that this country gets) you were running after your boy, constantly trying to make sure that he was safe and didn’t get into any mischief. I sat back empathising with you the whole time.
I walked into town at lunchtime to collect our family a pasty each. I was pleased to have some ‘me’ time as Ross watched the girls. On my return, you were coming towards me in the other direction with your son. Once again he was being a little trouble-maker, running around and climbing up walls with you chasing after him.
As I reached you, you were once again holding his hand. I needed to say something to you, to tell you that it was alright and that you were doing a good job – so I did. I touched you on the shoulder and I told you that you are a great mum. Because you are. You didn’t let your son get away with it and think that it was ‘OK’ to spit at others. You parented him properly – despite the fact that you were probably totally exhausted from running around after him by that point. You took responsibility for his actions and made sure that he did the same. I also think that you needed some support and encouragement because, who knows what else you had been through that day.
Parenting is hard work and making sure that your child turns into a decent human being and takes responsibility for their actions isn’t an easy job but you are doing a fine one and I am sure that you will see to it that your son becomes the man you hope he will be one day – thanks to you.