Dear Dad at soft play,
I saw what happened on Sunday, I was watching it all. I saw as you looked up and your son came running to you saying “Daddy, that boy pulled my hair”, you looked concerned. And who wouldn’t. No one wants their child to be hurt by another child. But soft play areas get busy, especially on a cold Sunday morning, and tensions run high between the kids and sometimes these things happen. For so many different reasons. I heard you ask your son which little boy and as he pointed, I looked over and saw two little boys come down the slide with big smiles on their faces. Whatever the issue was with that child, it was clearly forgotten about.
But you couldn’t forget it. You couldn’t let it go, telling your son to stay away. Or approach the mother and ask her to watch her child. Instead, I heard you say something I really didn’t expect, I heard you tell your son “If he pulls your hair, push him back.”
Dear dad, you look like a nice guy. You’re well dressed, as is your kid. He came to you for comfort, he came to you for a cuddle, to tell you he’d been hurt. He wanted your reassurance, your love, your comfort. Your child needs to learn how to handle things without resorting to violence. Your child needs to learn that an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. He needs to know that these things happen in soft play centres but that he should use his words and not his hands to retaliate. To tell the other child he didn’t appreciate it. To sort it out amicably.
We live in a world where violence is on our TV screens everyday…as much as we try to shelter our children, they will be exposed to it. They don’t need to be exposed to it by those that love them the most. He needed your guidance.
I didn’t say anything because your child looked like a good kid. I didn’t actually think he was going to act on it. He was fine (all his short hair in tact) and the other kid was off on the other side of the play centre.
But what happened after that shocked me even more. Your son sees the little boy approaching him, he turns to speak to you, you look away and in those 2 seconds that your head is turned, he pushes the little boy running past him, causing him to fall and hit his head. And then coincidentally you turn back, poker face!
And the little boy’s mother runs to scoop up her crying child with sadness in her eyes. Because she can’t understand why an older boy pushed her son, while standing right beside his dad, and his dad did nothing. She didn’t know her son pulled your son’s hair, you didn’t tell her you see, you didn’t clear the air.
I know you may think you’re teaching your kid to be tough, to fight back and defend himself. To be strong and take no shit! But what you don’t realise is, your kid gave you away dad. 15 minutes later he went up to that mother and said “I pushed him” and when the mother asked “Why did you push him?” your son responded “My daddy told me to, my daddy told me to do it!”
Children aren’t born vengeful, hurtful, racist. That’s all on us, it’s how we raise them. Parenting can be tough, we’re protective of the most precious people in our life BUT physical retaliation is never the answer.
Your child needed comfort, he needed reassurance, he needed love. That’s it!
Earlier in the week I read a beautiful article about choosing kindness.
For me, it was a very apt read given a scenario I am currently facing. I feel like as women and mother’s, we take the world on our shoulders. Wanting to do the best for our partners, our children, our extended families that very often we neglect ourselves. I’ve seen it time and time again with women around me. Sacrificing our desires for those we love.
Very often when I am faced with a certain situation, I find myself being much harsher on myself than I would if a friend came to me for advice in the same situation. Reading this article reminded me of how important it is to choose kindness. But not just in the way we behave with others, but in the way we treat ourselves.
We can choose to be kind in almost every moment of our day: holding the door open for someone, greeting a shop clerk with a smile, saying thank you to the bus driver, interacting with our family, even looking in the mirror. Throughout the day we have ample opportunity to choose kindness and it doesn’t cost us anything.
And what goes hand in hand with kindness, is gratitude. About 90 days ago, I started the 100 happy days project on Instagram. The idea is to upload an image a day that brought me happiness. More recently, Dino Daswani of Dino’s words of wisdom blog started an online gratitude thread. He’s encouraged people from around the world to name one thing they are grateful for each day. So often we can name many things we’re grateful for: our family, good health, wealth, friends, etc. But gratitude is not just about recognising what we are grateful for but rather practicing what we are grateful for. And practicing making choices to be a better person.
Essentially none of us are bad people, but often because of our egos and our fears, we do and say negative things. We think the worst of people, we doubt people and eventually muddy our own peace of mind. I’ve been at the receiving end of some unkindness recently but rather than ask “why?”, going forward I’ll be choosing kindness wherever I can because in order to change the world, we need to first change ourselves.
Is it just me or does the weather have a real impact on people in this city? For the last week, the sun has been shining down on us Londoners…hallelujah!! I’m almost afraid to talk about it for fear of jinxing it BUT one thing you must know about all Londoners is that they LOVE to talk about the weather.
“Oh it’s such a nice day, isn’t it?”
“Oohh it’s so cold out, I can’t wait to get home this evening”
“This rain is just awful, I can’t wait for the summer!”
“Apparently the weather is going to be nice this weekend, any plans?”
“We had such a mild winter this year, apparently we’re going to have a horrible summer.”
And many, many more. Shop assistants, tube station assistants, random people waiting outside the library, everyone talks about the weather here and since moving to London last year, I find myself doing the same.
Anyway, I digress. The point of this post is to say thank you to the lovely lady and her kind gesture yesterday. Let me set the scene. S and I were hanging out at this open play area place and the weather was so beautiful (the sun was shining down on us), lots of moms and their kids were hanging out and everyone was in a pretty happy mood. There was a little girl eating some dairy lea dunkers and she dropped all her bread sticks. As she started picking them up, S was observing her. I guess he hovered around her wandering what she was eating but then a few seconds later went back to playing. After a few minutes the mom came over to get her and also handed us a new dairy lea dunkers packet saying “Here you go, he can have this, I have lots with me.” To be perfectly honest, I was a little taken aback at first. S wasn’t really hungry, just curious but more than that, we haven’t had many moms walk across a play area to offer us a snack.
I’m sure she’s always as sweet but I’m definitely seeing a change in people in this weather. So Dear London, please try and stick with spring before everyone turns into grumpy sods again!
A friend sent me the below message today and I couldn’t help but share it.
I’ve had a lot on in the last few months but messages like this are a great reminder that compared to millions of other people out there, I don’t have it so bad. It’s a reminder to be grateful for all that I do have. It’s a little long but definitely worth the read.
1. Fall and Rise
Today, when I slipped on the wet tile floor a boy in a wheelchair caught me before I slammed my head on the ground. He said, “Believe it or not, that’s almost exactly how I injured my back 3 years ago .
2. A father’s advice
Today, my father told me, “Just go for it and give it a try! You don’t have to be a professional to build a successful product. Amateurs started Google and Apple. Professionals built the Titanic
3. The power of uniqueness.
Today, I asked my mentor – a very successful business man in his 70’s – what his top 3 tips are for success. He smiled and said, “Read something no one else is reading, think something no one else is thinking, and do something no one else is doing.
4. Looking Back
Today, I interviewed my grandmother for part of a research paper I’m working on for my Psychology class. When I asked her to define success in her own words, she said, “Success is when you look back at your life and the memories make you smile.
5. Try and U shall know
I am blind by birth. When I was 8 years old, I wanted to play baseball. I asked my father- “Dad, can I play baseball?” He said “You’ll never know until you try.” When I was a teenager, I asked him, – “Dad Can I become a surgeon?”. He replied “Son, you’ll never know until you try.” Today I am a Surgeon, just because I tried!
6. GOODNESS & GRATITUDE
Today, after a 72 hour shift at the fire station, a woman ran up to me at the grocery store and gave me a hug. When I tensed up, she realized I didn’t recognize her. She let go with tears of joy in her eyes and the most sincere smile and said, “On 9-11-2001, you carried me out of the World Trade Center.”
7. LOVE CONQUERS PAIN
Today, after I watched my dog get run over by a car, I sat on the side of the road holding him and crying. And just before he died, he licked the tears off my face.
8. A DOOR CLOSES TO OPEN ANOTHER
Today at 7AM, I woke up feeling ill, but decided I needed the money, so I went into work. At 3PM I got laid off. On my drive home I got a flat tire. When I went into the trunk for the spare, it was flat too. A man in a BMW pulled over, gave me a ride, we chatted, and then he offered me a job. I start tomorrow.
9. LOOKING BACK
Today, as my father, three brothers, and two sisters stood around my mother’s hospital bed, my mother uttered her last coherent words before she died. She simply said, “I feel so loved right now. We should have gotten together like this more often.”
Today, I kissed my dad on the forehead as he passed away in a small hospital bed. About 5 seconds after he passed, I realized it was the first time I had given him a kiss since I was a little boy.
Today, in the cutest voice, my 8-year-old daughter asked me to start recycling. I chuckled and asked, “Why?” She replied, “So you can help me save the planet.” I chuckled again and asked, “And why do you want to save the planet?” “Because that’s where I keep all my stuff,” she said.
Today, when I witnessed a 27-year-old breast cancer patient laughing hysterically at her 2-year-old daughter’s antics, I suddenly realized that I need to stop complaining about my life and start celebrating it again.
Today, a boy in a wheelchair saw me desperately struggling on crutches with my broken leg and offered to carry my backpack and books for me. He helped me all the way across campus to my class and as he was leaving he said, “I hope you feel better soon.”.
Today, I was traveling in Kenya and I met a refugee from Zimbabwe. He said he hadn’t eaten anything in over 3 days and looked extremely skinny and unhealthy. Then my friend offered him the rest of the sandwich he was eating. The first thing the man said was, “We can share it.”
Happy Tuesday 🙂