Saturday, January 29, 2011

To butt in, or not butt in? That is the question....

Today I was a Nosy Parker.

There I was, patiently waiting in the queue at my local Aldi. (There was only one check-out open as usual, so it was a rather long wait.).

For entertainment, the entire check-out queue watched a frazzled Mum deal with her kids and her purchases.

One child was a toddler, the other was about four. They weren't doing anything particularly naughty; just running up and down the front of the store a bit, and clambouring under the counter where Mum was packing up a gazillion dollars worth of groceries. Just like kids do when they're a bit over-tired or have excess energy because it's been too hot or wet to play outside.

Mum begged, she pleaded, for her kids to calm down a bit, and wait patiently while she packed up their purchases. Inevitably, they did not obey, and a couple of times, the little one got hurt. Nothing serious, just fell over racing her brother, and bumped her head on the packing counter as she went to hide beneath it.  (I told you it was a long wait.)

I watched as a couple of middle-aged-to-older ladies loudly tutted (really they did). Smiling knowingly, they shook their heads, and raised their eyebrows, as they waited for their partners to pay for the lamb roasts and potatoes. Those ladies really annoyed me. They weren't doing anything. I would have thought they might have rocked over and offered that lady a hand rather than smirking at her obvious frustration.

Most people made an effort to ignore both the ladies and the Mum and kids. The check-out dude gave Mum an exasperated glare every time she told the kids to quieten down and wait, and the older one trotted out silly replies like: "I'm gonna put a tomato all over your head!" No one laughed.

Me? I felt sorry for the woman. She looked close to tears. And did I mention it was really hot, so hot the air-conditioning wasn't quite up to the job. And she looked tired. Like she just needed to go home and put her feet up for a while.

The mother in me wanted to go over, look after her kids for a minute, or help her pack up her stuff. But I wasn't sure. Would she be offended, or think I was interfering? Would I cop a mouthful of abuse? (And to be fair, maybe that's why the other women didn't offer to help either, though they could have been nicer about it.)

My mind was made up when, just after I paid, the little one landed on the floor and burst into fresh floods of tears, metres away from her Mum.

I could have gone past, but instead, I helped the little girl up, checked she was okay, and told her I thought Mummy was feeling sad too, and perhaps we could go and make her feel better. She looked at me through her tears and nodded.

The I took her brother's hand and told him that Mummy had so many groceries to pack up, I bet she needed a big boy like him to help her.

He went straight over to the counter and started very carefully picking up products and passing them to his mother.

"Thanks," Mum said, looking at me gratefully. (Yay. No slap in the face for me today then!) "You've got no idea what's it's like."

"Actually I do," I said. "We've all been there."

And we have, haven't we? 

I'm not perfect, and I never will be. I'm not better than that woman, or worse. Like her, I'm a parent who just tries to do the best I can. Like we all do. And it's nice to be given a hand-up occasionally, rather than a collective thumbs down.

If nothing else, I thought the Queensland floods had taught us the value of mateship and helping each other out.

On a lighter note, my bloggie and twitter mate Nooska, made me laugh this week when she included this map on a post at her lovely blog My Life Starts Now.

Sadly, there are two cyclones on the horizon which Australia has to contend with, and Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has warned we are in for more tough times.

Yep, sounds like we are pretty much fucked.
Keep us in your prayers or send positive vibes or whatever you believe in peeps. Thanks.

And Mother Nature? We're tougher than you think.


Toni said...

Awww bless you for doing that. We've all been there (even the tut-tut ladies, I bet) and just some acknowledgement from another mum that parenting is a tough gig -- well, that's worth its' weight in gold.
LOVE that map, it made me Laugh. Out Loud. We're waiting for TC Bianca right now, with winds, floods and fires predicted, plus right now it's so freakin' hot you could just pass out, so I reckon my one little town owns that whole map. PMF about sums it up.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Good on you Bronnie! I really dislike people that sit in judgement when they know full well how hard it must be. did kind of chuckle at your map though :P

Thea said...

Uh oh...that map made my giggle! I know it's not funny...but it kinda an Aussie way!
Yay you! I always wish I was brave enough to do something like that. I always try to give an I-know-what-it's-like look or even say something like, "That was me last week, tough isn't it?"
You're right, mateship is about looking out for each other. Not tut-tutting like the oldies always tend to do at supermarkets!!

Tim Atkinson said...

Brilliant! And well done for risking the 'slap'... you can never be too careful. Well actually, you can; just wade in. We parents (I've got three and I'm 'mom' during the week) need all the help we can get.

You can pack my groceries any day.

Beet said...

Good for you for lending a hand! I can think of lots of times when my lot were little that a kind word would have made it all seem much less stressful.

Mummahh said...

good on you for helping! thats me sometimes with my crazy Mr 3!

Taryn said...

Good on you love, that's a great post! Gosh we have ALL BEEN THERE haven't we. Love that pic, so funny! xx

Toru said...

Hi, thanks for popping into Toru so now I know about your blog, which I've been enjoying - you write really well.

The supermarket thing really gets me. Im 8 mths pregnant with an 8 yr old and 2 year old. Everyone thinks that is great because the older kid can help me... it does not really work out that way though! I've had a a few trips recently where older folk have taken over my place in the que without batting an eyelid whilst I've made a dash to grab the 2 year old from running off or just remembered I forgot the bread or milk. Im talking 30 secs and they jump in, and they can see my kids are playing up and we need to get out of there by that stage...

Thanks for the reminder for when Im able to help someone else out I should.

Donna @ NappyDaze said...

Aw good for you! I too struggle with the "to interfere or not interfere" question - under the pretence of help of course - but you never know how your actions are to be received. I think you played it perfectly, and had it been me (whom I kidding - IT HAS BEEN ME!) I'd have also been bloody grateful for your help. And probably cried on your shoulder for good measure :-)

ClaireyHewitt said...

Please always butt in, one day it might be me and I would very much welcome some help with the packing. It is actually one of the bad bits of Aldi. The checkout takes so much longer and you have to get the kids out of the trolley or they get hit by flying cans of tomatoes.

Unknown said...

Oh, I think that was so good of you! The poor woman. I wanted to go help her just reading your post!

actually, I have to say, I tend to just interfere when I see this kind of thing - regardless of whether people might be offended! I always think most people would be glad of help. Although the really tricky ones are the older men who might resent you offering any "help" as an insult to their manhood! I remember Paul saying his father was so insulted when a young lady stoop up on a bus and offered him her seat!!! :-) But actually, I've never been rebuffed once. And I think most mothers would be glad of a helpfing hand - they usually always have more on their plate than they can deal with!!

Anyway, good on you!

Oh - and thanks for that HILARIOUS map! Best laugh I've had in days!! Just send it on to my sisters now! :-)


Deidre said...

It is sooo nice of you to help out!

That's so sweet.

As a childless persons, I always want to help, but never know if it'll be appreciated.

Unknown said...

Hi, I've awarded you a Stylish Blogger award. Head to bigwords to find out what to do!! xx

Ms_MotorbikeNut said...

I always go up to the person who is in charge of the kids (as it's not always the mum or day it can be a uncle etc) if the kids are running around & say excuse me would you like a hand for me to help with the kids or if your not comfortable with that would you like a hand with your food etc.

That way I leave it upto them if they want to refuse help or have it & saves the slap in the face or worse still the person thinking your going to take off with their kids.

What surpises me its nearly always the elderly people who tutt tutt over kids in lines & dont offer to help yet they expect younger kids to have manners. I wonder sometimes when the older peoples manners have gone.

(((( Hugs )))) XXXX Kisses XXXX

Nikki @ Styling You said...

Oh,I'm actually tearing up reading this post. Such a random act of kindness that I know would have made my day. We have all been there and if we all helped each others at times when we're not, life would be so much sweeter.

Faybian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Faybian said...

Damn auto correction,

Marg said...

It's always awkward to know whether to help or not!

Loved the map. It made all of us giggle here!

Pauline said...

Good for you for stepping in and helping. How well I remember being there!
Do you mind if I lift that map from your blog - I'd love to send it to my family.
Oh, and I've passed an award on to you. Hope you don't mind.

Rubyjaz said...

Hi Bronnie, Really loved this blog. Wow, I wish some people had given me a hand some times. I tend to step in a bit but not as much as I feel I could purely due to the fact you don't know if people will be offended. That would have made that ladies day.

Veggie Mama said...

Please be near me when I'm at my wit's end in Aldi in about five years' time x

Unknown said...

Thanks everyone for the support! Yes, Pauline, feel free to lift the map. and thanks for the awards Pauline and Bianca. xo