Wednesday, May 20, 2015

To the lady that "shush-ed" my 3-year-old on the bus.

3-year-old Linna on her Nabi tablet.
I'll admit it. I was a completely different person before I became a mom. Before kids, I was that emotion-less person who rolled their eyes and grunted about noisy children on airplanes (why would a parent travel with a child anyway, right?!). Now, I give that mom who is struggling to get her temper-tantruming child back into the shopping cart an empathetic smile, and I have a laugh when the kid behind me on an airplane is talking about penises and poop. I've been in that mom's shoes before, and in more ways than one, having a kid definitely changed me.

Yesterday, I was on a public bus in Singapore (SMRT) with my three-year-old. We were traveling from the West Coast to Robertson Quay to run errands and go scooting, which is a good 45-minute bus ride. During these long trips, I usually give my daughter the iPad or Nabi to keep her busy. On this particular trip, the bus way pretty full, so we found a seat on the top section of the double-decker bus. Linna turned on one of her favorite iPad apps (Fisher Price's Little People), and I turned the volume to low (I forgot her headphones at home). The volume was loud enough for both her and I to hear it, but quiet enough to get drowned out by the other noises/people on the bus. Linna decided to play a few of her favorite music videos, and sing along with them. I love when she does this.

Just like her Mama, Linna is not a quiet kid. She was singing happily and at her usual volume (not shouting or screaming, but definitely not whispering). For a second, I thought to myself, "I could ask her to sing more quietly", but I'd then run the risk of...

A. Hurting her feelings (she was singing beautifully, and I like to compliment her on these types of things).
B. Confusing her (why would I ask her to be quiet, when she was doing something sweet).
C. A complete threenager meltdown (I avoid even the possibility of these nightmares at all costs).

I chose to let her singing continue, especially when I received a friendly smile from the mom sitting across from us. Moms always think a singing child is cute, right?!

*** SIDE NOTE: For the record, I don't ALWAYS think my singing kid is adorable. And, let's be honest, a 3-year-old's attention spans about 5-10 minutes, so the chances of her singing continuing past then was slim to none. Ok, continue...

Five minutes into my daughter's singing, an old woman sitting behind us tapped my 3-year-old on the shoulder, and with an angry look on her face the woman "SUSH-ED" my kid.

That's right, she "SHUSH-ED" my 3-year-old, singing child.

I don't know if it was the startled and confused look on my child's face, or the fact that this women had the audacity to not only touch my kid, but "scold" her right in front of me... but mama bear LOST it. While I am usually incredibly respectful of my elders (especially elders in an Asian country), this lady had approached my bear cub, and mama bear went on the defense. So, what did mama bear do? I turned around and "shush-ed" the lady right back (I believe I specifically told her to go "shush" herself).

While I have no idea if the woman even spoke English, I pointed out the man a few rows back, who had been speaking on his cell phone at a volume that FAR exceeded my daughter's singing. I also pointed out the man at the back of the bus, who was disgustingly hocking loogies every two minutes into God only knows where. Why didn't she "shush" them?! The women then proceeded to (I can only assume) bad-mouth me in Chinese to her very silent friend sitting next to her. The two exited the bus a couple minutes later. Linna kept on singing, the man on the phone kept on talking loudly, and the man at the back of the bus kept hocking up his phlegm. God I love Singapore.

Clearly, Mama Saigh acted on her emotions in this particular situation. While I'd like to think that I'd be able to hold my tongue in situations like this, my "mama bear" instincts took over. When I look back on the situation, I don't think I would have done anything differently. Who was my 3-year-old's singing really hurting anyway? She wasn't crying, having a tantrum, whining, kicking the seat in front of her, running up and down the aisles, or climbing over the seats, as I've seen other children on the bus (including mine) do. If the singing was really bothering that woman, she could have politely tapped me on the shoulder and asked (with a smile) if my daughter could kindly keep it down a bit. I then might have assumed that this woman had worked a long day, was tired, had a headache, and I could have approached my daughter MYSELF to explain the situation. I would have appreciated the fact that she approached me... not the kid.

For those who want to tell me that I'm a guest in an Asian county where children are generally "seen and not heard", I can tell you that this is far from the truth in Singapore. Singapore is a beautiful melting pot of many different cultures, races, and religions, and all of them include children. While some individuals may feel that children should be "seen and not heard", I think that generality completely disrespects the reality of Singapore. We've lived in Singapore for almost three years, and if this was a country that wanted children "seen and not heard", we would have been gone a long time ago. We love all that Singapore has to offer children, and how child-friendly this country is.

My point is simple: Don't mess with mama bear. Am I right?!