Life with Maura means a life of unpredictability. We leave the house never knowing if she will be golden, or a holy terror. These days, it’s usually somewhere in the middle, where we have moments but move on quickly.
But we have to go out in public. And I don’t apologize for that. I will take my daughter out, and teach her the ways of the world and how to behave while out in the world. If I don’t take her out, then she will never learn. And at the end of the day, she has every right to go out into public and into shops and restaurants as anyone else.
I don’t apologize for her laughing loudly and happily at movies. Especially because they are children’s movies, and usually at matinee times. She will laugh loudly, because she is so very amused by what is happening on the screen. I will not apologize for that. The movie was designed to make a child laugh. And if she gets upset during the sadder scenes, I will do my best to talk her through them, but I don’t apologize for her getting upset during a sad scene in a children’s movie at 11 am. If you don’t like it, well, tough toodles.
I don’t apologize when she gets overwhelmed in large crowds. We do our best to avoid them, but crowds happen. And many times, she is okay. Some times, she is not. And she gets overwhelmed. She may act out. I cannot stop to apologize to you if she gets loud because I am too busy trying to diffuse the situation, or just get her the hell out of there as fast as we can. If I stop to apologize, that’s time away from dealing with the situation and possibly making it better. I can only soothe so many feelings at once, and quite frankly, complete strangers that I’ll never see again don’t rate as highly on my list as my child.
I don’t apologize when she gets super-excited over something in a store, to the point that she does a happy dance all the way to the check out, showing everyone her great find, and is bouncing up and down with glee. She is happy. She is excited. I do try to explain to her about inside voices, and being quiet happy, but again, too busy dealing with her to apologize to you. Luckily, most people still find her exuberance charming.
I don’t apologize when we take a couple extra minutes in line at Starbuck’s while I decipher what she wants and help her order it. If I stand behind people ordering their venti skim milk no foam extra pump sugar free latte with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top, then you can wait a moment while I help Maura tell the nice barista “hot chocolate”.
I tend not to apologize to the general public when my daughter has an almighty meltdown in public. Again, it’s not because I don’t care about the general public, it’s because apologizing isn’t part of the protocol. It’s hard to apologize to complete strangers when your daughter is trying to run out of the store or when you’re marching her to the closest exit. It’s not part of the exit strategy.
I don’t apologize for disciplining her in public (which is usually the stern talking to, and sometimes, a time out on a bench away from everything to calm down.) I have to do something immediately, or else by the time we get home, the moment is gone and forgotten. It’s now or never, and I want her to learn when her behavior is unacceptable. I won’t make you a part of it, I promise. But sometimes, we’ll be in your view.
I also tend not to apologize when she gets a teeny bit loud during church. She knows what is expected there. She can manage. But she also has no sense of whispering. I will remind her to whisper, then she will. She also doesn’t sit still well, so she will scoot all over the pew, swing her legs, flip through books. Otherwise, she is in God’s house, and God made her this way, so we all have to accept her and her lack of vocal control. (Luckily, our parish has always been good about this, especially the one in Ireland, where I’d have people stop us to tell us what a beautiful child she was even if she was a handful, and we were doing good with her.)
I don’t apologize if we’re slow on the stairs, or walking, or taking time to get into our car. It’s just part of our life. You could learn to slow down a little too.
I definitely don’t apologize if it appears I am spoiling her. Like the time we went to Starbuck’s and she chose a bottle of water, but really wanted hot chocolate, then started crying because she didn’t have cocoa. I had her use words, and then we got cocoa. To the outside world, she was being spoiled. Inside our world, I hadn’t done my job properly, and came up with a solution to the situation. And maybe I do spoil her a little. I’m pretty sure we’ve both earned that right.
But I don’t apologize in so many situations, not because I don’t care, but because I am in the situation, and I am trying to make it the best situation, and honestly, I spend so much of my day accommodating others, I don’t have time to add a world full of people as well.
I will apologize for things like her nearly running over you with the shopping cart (she has gotten so much better at steering these days!) or if she knocks over a display (we will stop and help pick things up), or bumps into you (her awareness of space is still wonky). I will make sure she waits in line for her turn, like everyone else, and behaves herself as much as possible. That’s part of why we’re out there, in the big world, so she can learn how to manage herself out there. I won’t apologize for the fact that we have to do this now – but I promise you that we will all reap the benefits when she’s grown.