To the parent who ignores my child

To the parent who ignores my child,

Please don’t.

When he loudly approaches you and your child, because he has something to say or he wants you to play with him – at least acknowledge him.

Please don’t take a deep breath and slowly move away.

I know he is full on. I know you see him every week – and he’s got a lot of energy and he gets so excited that he almost seems crazy. And I know his enthusiasm is really overwhelming… because I live with him. It’s unpredictable, isn’t it – for someone who doesn’t know him. And it’s a bit much.

I know that his voice is the loudest in the room. I know he ends up trampling passed your own child when he is excitedly exploring something new. I also know that it’s annoying – when he is the first in line, again, or he’s in the centre of the circle, again, and it’s his voice that continuously interrupts the story to share his own.

I know you are sitting at the side, next to your own child – worrying that he is taking something away from them. I know that your child is quieter, more reserved, and much more calm. And I know that you’re worried he could push your child aside, or get in their way, or hold them back. Maybe he overwhelms your child… even intimidates them.

I see the way you look at us. I feel it, too. You look at him as though he is about to hurt your own. You look at me as if I would let him. You take visibly deeper breaths, sometimes you roll your eyes, and, on a number of occasions, you’ve physically created a boundary by putting an arm up to prevent my child coming any closer.

I understand the need to protect your child, completely. I’m a mother too. My loud and confident boy needs just as much protection and encouragement, as your quiet and shy one.

They are two stars in the same sky – they each have a light. It just shines in different places.

My job as his mother, at this point, is to teach him to be mindful, considerate, and aware… and I am doing those things. And he is learning well. I remind him to be gentle, careful, to slow down, to wait his turn. I move him to one side when his frustrations get the better of him. I’m teaching my child to be himself… but also how to be around others.

Can you reassure me you will do the same?

Your child is frightened, I see it. I see it in their constant expression. And I know this is controversial, but do you think you might be reinforcing it? Even just a little bit?

I ask because I’ve seen you shielding them with your body, concerning yourself often with what my child is up to, standing back and watching your child kick and hit my own, unprovoked, because he wanted to climb through the same tunnel they were sitting in… you stood there watching on and then looked at him as though he deserved it. You caught my eye and it said so.

I know the only thing you want to do in your life, is to love and protect your child. I know it because that’s all I want, too.

Maybe the next time you give him ‘that look’ – you could actually see that he is the same as your own. Just a young child, trying to figure out their place in this world. If you continue to see him as a threat to your child… your child will too.

I can assure you though, from the bottom of my heart, that he isn’t. I know he is loud and climby and shouty and grabby – but I have never seen him wilfully hit out at another child to assert himself, deliberately push his way around, or snatch something that wasn’t his. I see him wanting to connect and cuddle and play. I see his caring eyes searching for the sound, when he hears someone crying and wants to help them. I see his shared joy when the child next to him enjoys the same things. And I saw his confused expression this morning, when you continued to ignore his excited exclaims and then eventually walked away.

I will continue to remind him to slow down, hang on, wait… eventually he will.

Maybe you could continue to reassure your child that he safe to be around.

And maybe… the next time he tries to smile at you, you could smile right back.

Thank you. x

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