I recently saw a video on facebook of a little boy on an airplane. He was throwing a tantrum that lasted hours, and you could tell the person behind the camera and others in the cabin were frustrated by the situation, and I can understand why! It's easy to judge the parenting behind the behavior and be quick to blame. I would've felt the same way had I been in that situation, but the reality was, I was on the other end, many times over the last year.
Moving young kids from their routine, taking them from their home, family, toys, and friends is a hard thing to do, and it only feels harder when you have to put them on a plane for 16 hours. Grant was 2 and couldn't comprehend the amount of time we were gong to be on the plane. He couldn't comprehend why we couldn't get off. And he couldn't comprehend my soothing apologies and efforts I made to calm him. I was so embarrassed, I felt awful for the people around me, but I also felt awful for Grant. He just didn't understand. I'm sure it frustrated those around me, but I did my best, and heard no remarks regarding the situation.
Fast forward. We made it through the 16 hours, we've been in China for months now, and our kids are pros at traveling. Trains, taxis, subways and buses are second nature to them, and for the most part they are great travelers, but that doesn't exempt them from being kids. I saw it time and time again, each time I was filled with the same gratitude and respect. One of my kids would have a melt down. Weather it be on a 3 hour bus ride to the grocery store, a late night train ride home after a long day of walking, or being smashed in to a subway with no room to move, it was the same thing. The same response from the people around me. Not judgment, no eye rolls, but HELP. A smile, a "take my seat", an orange for the baby, a toy for the girl, a peek a boo session with the man in front of us. Kind looks and kind words. I was always so humbled in these situations.
As I spent more time, talked to locals, and began to understand the culture, I understood why. I've heard them express adults have bad days and throw fits, why cant kids? I've felt the compassion and empathy from an elderly woman who knew my situation. And I began to understand a big difference between their culture and mine. IT'S NOT A COMPETITION. It's not about being a better parent, having better kids, a nicer car or a bigger house. It's about being family. Our province embodied this philosophy. They treated everyone like family. I never felt judged, and that's because judgment was never intended. There is no such thing as passive aggressive. they acknowledge the problem their neighbor has ( usually quite bluntly) and then take action to help. Even when a woman says "your child is naughty" it's somehow not offensive, because she's not trying to judge me. She's acknowledging the problem and then begins to sing Chinese lullabies to comfort them. These experiences taught be so much. I learned I didn't have to be acted upon. I learned I could make a difference in someones day, and I learned I don't need to compete. Be happy for others, and help when you can. It's simple really, and when everyone is doing their part, its such a beautiful thing to witness and feel. There are so many things I learned from the people in China, but this really stood out because it was something I needed. Many didn't know my situation or the hardships I felt every day, so it was such a comfort and a relief to have support. It's a new goal for me since I've been home, to be more patient with others around me, because the reality is, we don't always know someones situation and we often have the power to help.