Yesterday at church we dropped Hattie off at the nursery before mass like we usually do. Like always, she got hysterical and obviously upset when she figured out where we were taking her. I HATE dropping her off in the nursery, but taking her into church with us is way worse. She constantly wants to get away from us and move around, and she gets bored really fast. Plus, I think it's good for her to be away from Mama and with other children for an hour or so (even though I am aware that this is probably why she has had 3 stomach viruses in the past 6 months, but what won't kill you can only make you stronger, right?!?! Right. She has to build up her immunities at some point.)
The women in the nursery don't seem to mind. They have never buzzed us to come get her, and they always claim that she stops crying within minutes after we leave her. So we drop her off and quickly head to mass. Afterwards, we go back to get Hattie. While I'm in line to sign her out and pick her up, I over-hear the conversation that goes on between the caregiver and another mom in front of me. This mom is picking up her son who looks to be about Hattie's age. The caregiver is all smiles as she opens the gate for the little boy to go with his mother. She goes on and on about what a precious little boy he is and jokes about how they'e gonna keep him in the nursery forever! They just enjoy him so much! The mom beams with pride, swoops up her angelic child, and happily walks away.
Then it's my turn. Visions of what will be told to me about my angel quickly run through my head. I'm already swelling with pride! Unfortunately, my interaction with the caregiver didn't quite go as I was assuming it would. The second she sees me, her smile drops to a frown. Her brow wrinkles, and she sighs, "Well, my goodness, Hattie finally stopped crying." Then she hands her to me. All the while I'm thinking, "That's it? That's all you have to say about my baby?" Ouch. Knife in the heart.
I know the woman didn't mean to hurt my feelings, and perhaps I'm overly sensitive, but I have never been criticized about my child by a stranger before (It's a rite of passage for mothers that I never even considered!), and I don't even think I could call it criticism, but it was along those lines. It did hurt, though. WAY worse than being criticized myself. Judge me all you want, but don't judge my baby! I know that my child has a bit of a difficult temperment. She's never been laid-back and easy-going, but she is still precious in MY eyes. She is still a blessing to me and her father.
Riding home I kept thinking about my interaction with this woman. Of course, Sean didn't think twice about it. He thought I was overeacting, but I taught before I had Hattie. I KNOW when teachers and caregivers really like a child and when they really don't. There is a definite doting that the disliked children never get a taste of. It's something that just goes on subconsiously.
So I have decided that next time I'm out and I hear a child throwing a fit or doing something less than perfect, I am going over to that mama, and I'm gonna compliment her child. Whether it be, "You have such a beautiful child." or "Your child is so smart. She really knows what she wants." or "I bet he'll be a singer. He has some great lungs!" Whatever it is, my mission is to just dote on a child that may not be the favorite and may not get a lot of compliments from strangers but is priceless to his or her parents none-the-less!