Today we took the kids to Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg, partly to check out the nature playground and partly to take our annual outdoor pictures of the kids (to be put up one of these days). We had a little picnic and then set off to explore a bit of the park.
First stop the pond with the geese. There were three long steps down to the pond. The geese were on the bottom step and the kids were told (and listened) to stay on the second step. We were slowly walking along the second step and the geese would jump into the water occasionally as we walked by.
I will reiterate: we were walking along the step.
An older lady (looked to be in her 70s), started making off-hand comments to Luke from where she was standing. “Don’t chase the geese.” “Would you like to be chased?” Then after a few of those, it went onto, “That boy does not listen” (muttered to the lady she was with). “Don’t chase the geese!”
I didn’t quite know what to do. Luke was, after all, just walking along the step with Olivia and I directly behind him. I said to him a few times, “Do you hear, Luke?” “Listen, Luke.”
Then the lady started muttering in French to her friend about Luke. I was so tempted to walk up to her and say, “Je comprends!” but I didn’t. Instead I smiled at her as we all walked by her and she actually smiled back to me. Not sure what that was about.
As soon as we were gone, I said to Luke, “Did you hear what that lady was saying to you?” When we were by the geese, he had first said that he didn’t hear her. But when we were away he said he did. So I said, “You know, I don’t think it was her place to tell you what to do. But you shouldn’t ignore people when they talk to you. Come and tell me what people say to you and we’ll figure it out, okay?”
‘Cause, really? What was he supposed to do? What was I supposed to do? There was a difference of opinion on how people should approach the geese, and on what the word “chase” meant, and on whose business it was to tell the boy what to do — or whether he needed to be told what to do at all! Which, in my opinion, he didn’t!
But doesn’t this happen all the time? Parenting styles definitely bring this out, where there are infinite notions of standards and rules. But it’s everywhere. How do people… governments…. nations make decisions when you can’t even decide whose business it is to make the decision? And then which decision do you make? What will the effects of the decision be and who will it affect?
All day I was discouraged. Not because of this encounter. (Which is strange since normally something like that would make me totally panic inside.) Instead (in addition to being exhausted from just barely being home from our three week vacation), I just felt overwhelmed with how confusing life is. How hard it is to raise kids. How confusing human interactions and relationships are…
It feels like it’s so hard to get it right. Whatever right is…