How we treat others is really a reflection of ourselves.

And that’s what I have to remind myself whenever I see/hear/witness moms at my children’s dance studio patronizing their children in public.

Last night, a mother couldn’t be louder in the small-ish space when her little one, around 7 o’clock (tired?), whined that she wanted to stay with Mommy rather than leave with Daddy. “No whining!” the woman yelled at the little girl. “I said no whining!!”

The girl tried her best. Really, she did. I heard the conflict. I heard her wrestling with how to be different than what is natural for a kid. She muttered, “I want to be with Mommy … and Daddy.”

And then the father ushered her toward the door and as they were about to blast out into the blowing snow and cold night, she looked back to the mother and called out, “Mommy, I want you!”

The mother yelled, literally yelled, across the space. “Go away.”

The girl whimpered. The mother responded with what she figured was a compelling argument, something about how she hadn’t had dinner yet (hungry?) and so it was logical that the girl was leaving with Dad.

The door shut. They were gone. And the mother turned to two other mothers at another table and said, “Leave me alone!” Then she laughed. She laughed long and loud and the other mothers joined in.

While I am in no way a perfect parent and yes, I enjoy my time without children, so many things trouble me about this scene. Whatever your feelings about a person, do you have to shame them in public? Or shame them at all?

And when that person is your child, and a very little child at that, whose behavior is probably driven more by hunger and exhaustion and the fact of being very, very young, don’t you think it’s the adult who should understand the details of the situation and let it slide?

We reduce ourselves to mud when we treat our children meanly. Really, when we treat anyone unkindly, we are merely showing the world how much work we have to do on ourselves.

Yes, children who want to be with you 24/7 can drain your loving mothering energy. It’s universal. We all need a break.

But that is no excuse for hurting another being.

And the worst part in this situation is – when a child is repeatedly (as I’m sure she is) treated with disdain, she grows up to treat others that way.

What if the world operated by the idea that we honor the beauty and the Divine and the love in every other creature? What if we realized our own humility and sent out only love to others. What if we owned our own moods and insecurities and turned inward at those moments of frustration?

(And for my dear friend Sarah – no worries – we love the dance studio. It just makes me sad when a parent is unnecessarily unkind to their child. I should also share the story about the woman behind us who fished around in her purse for a ponytail holder for my daughter before class and gave it to us. So kind. The world is definitely a balance of emotions.)

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