Saturday was the day before Halloween and countless neighbors or visitors to the neighborhood swamped my local grocery chain. As I entered to purchase a few items, I couldn’t help but notice a small boy who was wailing at the top of his lungs. His apparent mother was a few feet ahead of him and was totally ignoring the child and whatever distress he was experiencing.
Having taught several thousand children and been the mother of two, I couldn’t help but wonder about the wisdom of her decision to ignore him. It appeared that he was frantically attempting to secure a pumpkin for the holiday and was evidently thwarted in his pursuit.
Because I don’t know the mother or the child, I can’t pretend to understand the whole story or the conversation that preceded his explosion. All I do know was what I witnessed, a mother who chose to deal with her son’s tantrum by pretending that he wasn’t there.
Nobody likes to be ignored. Whether you are having a fit about your obvious need for a pumpkin or because you have been difficult all morning (all day, all week, etc.), from my standpoint, ignoring a child is the worst possible tactic. Turn around and speak to him in a small voice, saying, “I know you want a pumpkin – let’s get a cart first so that I don’t have to carry it.” Ignoring a child or anyone else is the ultimate dismissal. It probably communicates one of the following: I don’t want to talk to you. You are not important enough for me to acknowledge you. Whatever I have to do is a better way to spend my time than interacting with you. I will only speak with you when you behave according to my rules. I don’t know why you are upset and just don’t care. But maybe a little patience can go a long way and inclusion is a much better option than exclusion. Shalom.