I recently witnessed something that really, REALLY annoyed me. And it made me question; when it comes to our children, what’s more important – manners or compassion?
The other day I was at the playground with the boys. I was sat on a bench watching them play on the climbing frame, and next to me there was a woman spinning three girls of around 7 years old, on one of those sit on, spinny roundabout things. They were enjoying. Until one of them quite heavily fell off, landing on her back and whacking the back of her head quite hard on the floor.
Instantly she threw her hands to her head and was screaming crying. I felt so sorry for her, as I had watched it happen and saw her head, and body, bounce off the floor.
Here’s Where I Began To Get Annoyed
It took the woman about four to five seconds to reach down and help the girl up. To me that was three to four seconds too long. It was like she was moving in slow motion, just slowly and calmly bending down to help up the injured child. Let me just clarify, the girl fell right by the feet of the woman.
I’m not a helicopter parent (far from it), and I don’t generally rush to the aid of my children if they fall over….but I’d be there in a heartbeat if I’d watched them whack their head on a hard floor!
Oh but it gets worse. The woman (I’m calling her the woman as I’m not sure if she was their mother, auntie, childminder…) had the injured child standing against her, arm around her back, and patting her (injured) head. There was no love there. No concern. I didn’t witness any proper compassion for the girl.
She didn’t go down to her level. No soothing strokes, no face kisses. Not even talking to her to see how she was…
There Was Concern Though…
She was concerned that the other two girls were being polite. Her words roughly were (names made up because I can’t remember exactly what they were) “Matilda, be kind and ask how Sarah is please”, and then “Ruth, it’s kind and polite to ask how Sarah is”. “Matilda and Ruth, why don’t you ask Sarah if she’s feeling ok? Come on girls”.
I was fuming. Really mad. And my face was portraying my anger. The woman didn’t see me, but the little girl, distraught and in pain, was facing me. So I was really struggling with trying to do a sad, ‘I hope you’re ok’ face, whilst concealing my angry face.
The woman just seemed so cold in her reaction. Perhaps it is that you’ll think I’m overreacting to the situation. But I’m a mum. And I’m a human. My instant and strongest reaction was to show compassion for the girl. The womans reaction was to ensure the other children in her care were practising good manners.
It made me wonder in what other situations she prioritises manners, over compassion.
So I ask you, as parents and humans; when it comes to our children, what’s more important to you – manners or compassion? Which would you rather your children learn and practise – manners or compassion?
I know which one I choose.
I do have my faults as a mother though, read 5 Reason I’m a Pretty Bad Mum here.