Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tales Of Public Humiliation (Parenting 101)

IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Tales Of Public Humiliation

I was reading an article recently about the most embarrassing moments people have experienced with their kids and the more I read, the more I found myself scoffing at the stories, knowing that if there had been a competition my four year old would have won in outstanding fashion. 

Miss O, who is nine years old never really had the urge to loudly declare things about strangers in public. Miss A however, has turned it into a sport. So much so that we, her parents, are permanently fitted with a radar that kicks in as we approach any public situation which might open up a world of humiliation for us (or her poor victims). The wheelchair- bound, the walking wounded, uniquely shaped individuals, amputees, people of colour - prepare yourselves for the queen of tactless curiosity! And when our radar is not ready, this is what happens.

Last winter, we took ourselves out for a family morning to the Hot Springs, where there are many natural pools of varying sizes and water temperatures. It's a quiet, babbling-brook kind of place, the mist rises in the valley below, people speak in whispered voices and the natural water provides its usual healing properties to the tired, stressed and weary. Children are welcome only between certain hours, and of course are encouraged to match the serenity of the environment, so to speak.

After bouncing from one hot spring to another, we finally settled on a little pool about the size of a large spa bath, just right for the girls and us. Two lovely forty-something ladies joined us, and were very chatty and receptive to the banter of our four year old who was of course able to prove there and then she can indeed talk underwater. After a certain time, the ladies decided to depart and perhaps enjoy the serenity on their own. The first lady hopped out and as the second turned and began climbing out the spring revealing a 'shapely' rear end in a bathing suit, Miss 4 loudly declared, "Phwoah!!! Look at that ladies' big fat bottom!!!".

At this point, time just kinda stood still. I felt the blood drain from my face and I started some high pitched ramble about how she says it to me "all the time" (what?!) and that I'm very sorry for the offence caused while hysterically trying to explain to Miss A why we don't comment on other people's appearance and insisting she apologise. At that point I noticed that her Dad had sunk under the water and Miss O's jaw had joined him. Me, being the people-pleaser that I am, spent the rest of the time at the Springs playing the awful scenario over in my head, and planning what I would say to the woman if I have the chance to (thankfully I did and was able to apologise in a far more rational fashion!).

To this day, I thank the poor victim of Miss A's heinous crime for being so gracious - she was much nicer about it than I think I would have been. She told me she had kids who did it all the time and because she was a school teacher she heard it all before. I can't help but think however, that the little episode gave her a decent dent in the body image department and for that I still feel terrible - perhaps one day my mouthy four year old will too. 




  1. We told Bea off for calling people fat. Now she says 'flat' instead. Thinks she's hilarious.

  2. I reckon the poor lady we offended would have much preferred to have been told she had a flat bottom - well played, Bea...:)

  3. That's one of my favourite Miss A stories, bless her. And not being in the firing line thankfully, I wouldn't change her for quids!

  4. Yes, Rup, like Grandparents you have the harmless box seat to her shananigans..! Still, plenty of fodder for a Godfatherly 21st speech, right?

  5. Hilarious! But wait, Sri Lankan Nun? Oh dear.

  6. I'm collecting stories like this for a book I'm writing. Would you like to contribute yours? Generally, I'm asking for anonymous stories, but if bloggers prefer to be quoted and have their blogs listed, that is also a possibility. This story would be perfect, and if you have any others, I would love to use those as well. I'm taking anything embarrassing or gross, as well as tales of morning sickness.

    1. Hi ifrit - thanks for your interest! Sounds great. I'm happy to learn more about your project - feel free to email at sophie@themotherload.com.au with further details about yourself, the book and other work you have done and we can discuss further.