Monday is the day we do a baby/ toddler sign language class. I walked there, (scrutinising the sky for chemtrails - just in case) battling against the Autumnal winds. In the hall, I settled down with the girls who share my life, metal water bottle in reach. Babies soon flocked over, wanting to explore the shiny beacon in front of us. As the babies arrived over the hour to explore my water bottle I smiled at them and the mother acknowledging them and showing I didn't mind. I watched the mothers' reactions knowing in any given day, at ant stage of my life, I could be one of these mothers:
Some mothers raced over to remove their child, saying "that's not yours"- Others called their babies "nosey", and one pulled them away saying sorry their baby was trying to steal. One mother scowled disapprovingly and raised her voice repeatedly saying "no", until the child was removed from the vicinity of the bottle.
The most thought provoking reaction was a mother who started scowling and shouting as soon as the baby started to crawl over, the baby sat 5 inches in front of me. I smiled and the baby started to make a noise similar to a wince, her hand darted in front of her and then back to her body. She did this several times. I cannot know what she was thinking, but I guess she was so used to being told off that her need to explore was inhibited with her uncertainty. I nodded at her to gesture it was okay and she gently touched the top. At this point her mother rushed over, yanked her off the ground grumbling "mummy told you no, I SAID no!". A minute later, the baby started crying, I wondered if she was finding a reason to cry and therefore find healing. The babies' mother watched her cry, and was only when another mummy exclaimed that she was crying that the mother responded. I felt really sad for both the mother and the baby, because clearly there was a connection missing. The mother sad, angry, resentful; the baby distressed, emotional needs unmet, unsure and fearful. What saddened me most was that the baby didn't seem consoled when her mummy comforted her.
How would I have responded - in an ideal world, on a perfect day:
I would probably have had the thought they shouldn't play with someone else's bottle, then I would have questioned it and realised it wasn't true. I would have let them explore and waited incase I was required. If the bottle owner seemed uneasy with the baby playing with the bottle, I might have left it for her to tell my baby. My baby will learn about the world given these opportunities. Otherwise I would have gently gone to my baby and expressed my empathy - yes I see, I see you want to play with this bottle but this lady wants to keep it herself. I understand that you want to play with it, can I offer you another bottle/toy? And if they cry, comfort them.
I feel so much frustration and anger that people don't realise that there is another way, that in my trying to be respectful and unconditionally loving I get so much opposition.