Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Learning Curves of Parenting

So the whole John Lewis Toddler-gate story that has been all over social media today has got me thinking a bit about the various learning curves we all go through as parents.

Having read several versions of the reported story I'm really not sure who, if anyone, is to blame for how that mother was made to feel last Sunday when she was asked to leave John Lewis at the Trafford Centre.

It seems fairly safe to say though, that at one time or another we've all been there (not the Trafford Centre, although I have been there many times, both with or without children, but that's not really the point).

I have had a fair few "John Lewis" style moments over the years with my brood, but I thought I'd share just one which still to this day makes me cringe.

About ten years ago now, DH decided to book us all tickets to go and see Cirque du Soleil who were touring (coincidentally at the Trafford Centre - what is it about that place that makes toddlers bat-sh*t?).  Anyway, we booked for my in-laws, DS1 (4), DD1 (2), DH and I to go one Sunday afternoon.

We had high hopes of enjoying the wonderful atmosphere and brilliant performance.  DD1 (then 2) did not. Frankly, in retrospect I can understand her feelings at the time - a circus with no animals (ethically this is good apparently but also boring when you are two) and full to the brim with serious middle-class types with no children (or at the very least, older children than ours) was no place for a toddler to be tolerated.

To cut a long story short, she whined throughout most of the first half (pretty much from when the bribe jelly babies ran out), fidgeted, cried when the clowns came out (with her on that one) and made our little row of audience members a pretty unbearable place to be.  Understandably some people began to roll their eyes at us. So my husband did what every reasonable parent would do and he took her outside, leaving the rest of us to carry on watching.

As he left one of the staff commented "oh, we were about to tell you to leave anyway, someone has complained".  Ace.

Did my husband get cross?  Did he email the circus exclaiming his disgust at being spoken to like that by a member of staff?  Did he publicly lament being made to feel like a sh*t parent?


He took our DD and sat outside with a beer and watched the rest of the performance on one of the screens they had in the foyer.  DD was delighted to be watching the TV and behaved impeccably for the rest of our time there which was bloody typical.

I may have had a small cry at the indignity of it all, I was 20 weeks pregnant at the time and a bit emosh, but we did learn several things that day.

1.  Cirque du Soleil isn't all that
2.  It is also no place for children too small to appreciate it
3.  We have never taken any of the kids to see any live performances since that day - there is a reason why DVDs were invented (I suspect internet shopping exists for similar reasons)
4.  Sometimes you just have to grow a thick skin - ignore the haters
5.  Parenting is all about compromise (as I say, DVDs, internet shopping, UK holiday destinations)

In essence you've just got to suck it up.

It wasn't the beginning of our learning curve, nor I suspect will it be the end.

Just one of those things sent to try us.  You live and learn after all.


  1. You're so right about growing a thick skin. Unfortunately I don't have that yet, and if anything like this were to occur I'd probably break down in tears. I think people need to have more tolerance though, if a child is in a shop and throwing a tantrum, so what? It's not like you've paid to be there, or that you HAVE to be there. Why should the mother leave when she has just as much right to be there? People just need to go about their own day and stop worrying about others. Silly buggers complaining! Lol x

    1. I have to say it would take a lot for me to complain about another shopper - I'd be more likely to be the one leaving if someone was really annoying me. You are right that people need to be more tolerant as a whole, but that has to come from both sides. A child in a shop having a tantrum is not news and I don't understand why the mum felt the need to involve the press. I do sympathise with her, it must have been massively embarrassing but I don't get the media furore that has been whipped up as a result! Really annoying story (don't get me started on some of the comments I've read elsewhere! Grrr...). xx


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