Living Between the Lines

Your child is cute but there is no need to tell me…

There is often much said in the media about those pushy mothers who will stop at nothing to see their little darling shine on screen or stage which immediately makes me think of Noel Coward’s lyrics, “Don’t put your daughter on the stage Mrs Worthington.” Of course, pushy mothers are in no way restricted to the performing arts. They appear in every walk of life and will often stop at nothing to further their children’s careers and prospects.

Just where pride and support stops and pushiness creeps in is a moot point.

Pushy mothers are one thing. They may be caricatured and held up to ridicule but many a child has benefited I am sure, from the wiles and dedication of a pushy mother. Personally, I can stand any amount of pushy mothers as long as they stay clear of me. However, I am less tolerant of the kind I met in the Doctor’s surgery waiting room last week. This is the, “Just look at how cute my child is!” kind.

First, let me say that when in a Doctor’s waiting room, if one is unaccompanied, it should be assumed that one is not feeling well. There will be exceptions to the rule of course but on the whole, one wants to be left to wait in peace.

Last week, I had cause to visit the doctor. I was feeling less than well – nothing a course of antibiotics couldn’t put right but still, I just wanted to sit in peace and wait. Hence, having booked myself in on the handy touch-screen (a self-service feature worth mentioning should it be successful and does not result in you joining the queue at the reception desk to be booked in manually because the computer, inexplicably, says “no”) I chose a row of seats as far away from anyone else in the waiting room as I could. The room was not particularly full so there was a good choice.

After a few minutes, a young woman came in with her little daughter. The little girl was about 3 years old. The young woman approached the touch screen and successfully booked in. I was aware she was making a big deal of removing the child’s coat. Her voice carried across the waiting room,

“Let’s take your coat off Kaylee, that’s it – you don’t need it on in here do you? Oh look at you! You are funny. Come on let’s sit down, where do you want to sit?”

I tried to look inconspicuous in my seat at the far end of the room. There were plenty of seats in the section to my left where the toys were. Mothers and babies tend to congregate there. The little girl gleefully ran towards me. Oh dear, she was going to sit next to me. She launched herself onto the chair and onto my handbag which was, it should be said, resting half on the other chair.

“Kaylee! You mustn’t go jumping on people like that. I am sorry,” the young woman apologised, loudly. I smiled and moved my bag.

“Don’t worry,” I said sweetly.

I should have known she’d choose to sit next to me, they all do – do I give off a signal that says, “Mother of five, with grandchildren – good target”? Probably.

The child was quite sweet of course, and fairly quiet. Not so her mother. The mother didn’t chat to the child exactly, she chatted to the entire room. Know what I mean? If the child did something, then the mother would say loudly and rather annoyingly,”Oh Kaylee, you are funny, you’ve done this/that/the other,”

I just sensed it would get worse. I contemplated moving but that would be rude and require using up my sadly depleted supply of energy. I felt quite drained. I would just have to sit there.

No sooner had I had this thought than the father arrived. As mother and daughter had taken up both the seats to my right, he squatted on the floor next to them.

“Would you like to sit here?” I offered, intending to move up a seat to the left.

“No, I’m fine here,” he smiled.

I tried not to look disappointed. I could hardly move up now.

The mother smiled and said, quite unnecessarily,

“He’s fine there,”

Kaylee chattered away. The overhead screen, flashing up the names of patients being called to see the Doctor, beeped.

“That’s my name mummy!” Kaylee proclaimed.

“No, that’s not your name Kaylee,” said mum, loudly, too loudly, so that we all might hear and be amused.

“There’s my Doctor!” asserted Kaylee, pointing to an unsuspecting gentleman who had just walked in and was attempting to use the self service login. (It said “No”).

“Oh, Kaylee, that isn’t your Doctor,” said mum, even more loudly.

I smiled at Kaylee, probably encouraging ‘mum’ to speak to her daughter again, loudly.

“You really are too cute Kaylee,” she broadcast to the room, “you do make me laugh!”

‘Dad’ spoke too but he was quiet. Kaylee could hear him just as well but he was talking to Kaylee, not to the entire waiting room.

“That’s your name!” cried Mum finally as “Kaylee Smith” flashed up on the screen.

I breathed a sigh of relief and sat back to wait my turn. A few other patients seemed to do the same.

Within five minutes they were back, Mum and Kaylee that is. Dad had gone to get the car. I knew this because mum was telling Kaylee loudly,

“Daddy is going to get the car so we’ll wait here in the warm,”

Surely they’d sit somewhere else now? There were several more vacant chairs near the exit. Of course they didn’t. Kaylee beamed at me and scampered back to where I sat. I endured five more minutes of Kaylee’s cute ways being loudly repeated and remarked upon by her mother, lest we should miss them, before Dad came to take them home.

This behaviour can be heard in shops and post offices and parks across the land. It spans generations and perhaps you see nothing wrong in it. Of course we all love it when our children are cute and it’s great when other people tell us how wonderful they are but that’s just it, leave it to others to comment, Your child is cute but please, don’t tell me!

P.S. I would like it put on record that all my grandchildren are cute – can grandmothers be pushy? 🙂

Easter Hat
Leon in his home made Easter hat fashioned by his creative mum at the last minute using dish cloths, sponges and baby socks (I think he’s cute)
William and Elliott
William and Elliott chilling. “Can’t talk now – Toy Story is on!” (very cute)

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • screenscribbler

    I totally sympathise with you Deborah. You would never guess I’m a loving grandad if you saw me seething on a plane having to restrain myself from shouting at a poor unsuspecting flight attendant, “Why can’t you put these screaming kids in the hold with the baggage?”
    Or in COSTA COFFEE, where I usually take my lunch break (when I get one), where all I want to do is have a quiet read, to find that the place is infested with screaming kids and even louder screaming mothers.

  • hilarymb

    Hi Deborah .. oh how I agree – wretched people! As in the train, or the cinema – you have a seat with a reasonable view … the place is fairly empty – but no .. I’ll sit in front of you – and I got there early!! I hope you feel better now …

    … perhaps that’s why cheese isn’t doing it today for you?!! I do hope your Easter was easier for you … cheers Hilary

  • patricia

    Sounds very USA parenting to me – those are the middle class and wealthy parents, always talking up their children and sharing it with the world. We also have the alternative parents, who do not correct their children or make clear what is expected in a waiting room or store. We had a neighborhood gathering at Christmas to meet the new neighbors and their 2 year old…kids included…about 40 adults came by and visited and about 7 young children ( none of the teens came) The other children actually teased or bullied the 2 year old and I had to intervine and leave the host job to my partner. No parental involvement. Children were actually breaking the furniture in the doll house we had put out to play with and one high energy kiddo opened the door and threw the train set into the yard (if it wasn’t their toy – destroy it) – several wine glasses went over – 4 children ate a pound of mints ( no lie and the teacher in the room kept moving and hiding them. One child insisted on eating a piece of shrimp – chewed it then spit it at her sister. I had lots of fun children’s food – like polar bear crackers – but most of them picked and moved through the adult food. Several parents thought this was funny….the oldest girl (7) kept taking away the 2 year olds blueberries and hiding them from her – I was reading a book and one child said – I like the movie better and dashed everyone away….they ran and ran and ran upstairs and downstairs and into bedrooms and opened drawers – and someone left with 2 of my glass tree ornaments….Only the new neighbor ( a nurse) and I were involved in working with the Children. I do not think I will have the children again at a party. The Solstice party across the street was even larger and more children with helicopter parents for the babies ( my precious) running children and sullen teens….we only stayed a few minutes and then left.

    I don’t mean to be so wordy here, but I always thought I loved children, but I think only one on one these days. Parenting seems to be rather bazaar around here…and everyone is avoiding public school for private schools these days.

    Your grandies are beautiful and what lovely photographs…Thank you

  • Teresa

    Oh I agree with you there! It winds me up no end when people have to be so loud just to make sure everyone notices and none of it is for the purpose of proper conversation with their child.
    Your grandchildren are cuties – I love Leon’s hat! 🙂 x

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