Last week while on holidays, my family went on a whale-watching tour. The boat looked very much like a pirate ship, so the kids were fairly impressed.
About halfway into the adventure, a visibly stressed out older woman went over to my four-year old, took him by the hand and brought him over to where I was sitting with Daddy-o and a friend. She explained that she was worried sick about him going overboard.
At first I didn’t really know what to do with that information. I knew he was not going overboard and there were three adults keeping a very close eye on him. I think in situations like this, the knee-jerk reaction is to say, “Why don’t you worry about looking for whales and I’ll worry about my kid.”
But those words didn’t come out of my mouth because I didn’t feel angry or judged. This woman was genuinely worried, albeit unnecessarily. I wanted her to enjoy the day, so from there on in one of us adults closely followed my fully capable kid around so that she could relax. It’s probably been years since she cared for a small child, and we quickly forget what they do at different stages.
I could relate to how she was feeling. Sometimes other people’s children stress me out. If I’m at the park and there’s a child running around with a lollipop, I go out of my mind. I completely obsess to the point of ignoring my own children. I’m paralyzed with fear that the child will fall and have the lollipop lodged down their little throat.
My solution? I either have to leave the park completely, or I explain to the mother that I’m a total crackpot and beg her to humour me and take the lolly away.
While I want to enjoy my time at the park, so did this woman on the ship. It’s easy for parents to get defensive, but I found that by respecting her concerns, we had a day of smooth sailing on the high seas.
Have you ever had anyone show unnecessary concern over your child? How did you respond?