themighty logo

To the Mom Whose Child Acted 'Bratty' Last Night

Dear Mom,

I realize you have become accustomed to accusing glances when¬†your child cries and refuses to obey you in public. I understand people want to go about their public lives without the noisy¬†interference of ‚Äúannoying‚ÄĚ children. I know this causes you to feel nervous, embarrassed, and perhaps a bit sweaty ‚Äď you are¬†likely familiar with that itchy, prickly sweat that comes from having¬†a ‚Äúbratty‚ÄĚ child around judgmental adults.

Well, Mom, I am lucky enough to¬†know your little boy¬†personally. I know he has¬†spent most of his 3 and a half¬†years of life seeing doctors, nurses,¬†therapists, and other professionals. I know he has nearly choked¬†to death more than once because of the difficulty he has chewing and¬†swallowing. I know he’s lived through painful surgery. I know¬†he has become frustrated at his inability to communicate; he¬†knows darn well what he wants to say to the world, and his quick mind¬†is betrayed by his health limitations.

I know he has a grin that would make a seasoned criminal¬†suspicious. I know he has the kind of determination and purpose¬†company CEO’s would envy. I know his courage is such that¬†he squares his little shoulders and says goodbye to his beloved mama¬†when he goes to preschool in the mornings, even though he’s¬†frightened to be away from you. I know he rushes to see you¬†after school each day, except for the times when he’s assisting a classmate ‚ÄĒ when that¬†happens, Mama will need to wait because this little man does not neglect his friends.

Last night was a hot, humid summer evening. Your child smiled and¬†greeted people; then too many people spoke to him. His cheeks became¬†flushed, probably from the heat, but also probably from too much¬†stimulation. He didn’t know where to place his attention, so he¬†reacted to the heat and the over-stimulation the way that 3-year-old¬†children do: he cried. He yelled. And because he¬†hasn’t had the luxury of hearing as well as most of us, his cries and¬†yells seem quite loud to us.

Guess what? That’s not his problem. That’s our problem! You know how¬†the adults at that gathering reacted to the heat and¬†over-stimulation? We stepped outside to get a break from everyone. We¬†wetted the backs of our necks to cool down. We made quick, snappish remarks to others who were on our nerves. You know why we didn’t cry¬†and yell? Because we’ve had years, even decades, of practice dealing¬†with such situations. Your little boy has only had three and a half¬†years of¬†practice. He reacted the same darn way most of us would have¬†reacted when we were his age.

Worried Mom, I want to thank you for the privilege of spending time¬†with your beautiful child. I also want to ask you to look around you¬†next time he acts ‚Äúbratty.‚ÄĚ Look at each of the adults who are¬†witnessing his¬†meltdown¬†and imagine what a ‚Äúbrat‚ÄĚ that adult must have been at 3¬†and a half!¬†Then take a deep breath, trust yourself, and¬†admire your child for being the funny, resilient, compassionate,¬†strong-willed person that he is. Admire yourself while you’re at it,¬†OK? I sure as heck admire you.


A Former ‚ÄúBratty‚ÄĚ Child

Image via Thinkstock.