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Are all Canberrans this unhelpful?

By missjill 18 June 2008 114

Hello, and no, this isn’t the usual political post, nor is it a restaurant review, it’s really just a whinge (if you like), about what happened to me today.

I am a single mother of a 2 year old toddler. Not by choice, but by circumstances. I have full care for my child, I work part-time, and I study part-time. Shopping with a toddler is not easy, and I’m sure the mothers and fathers out there can recall a time when all their child wanted to do was experiment with their new found freedom, by running everywhere and anywhere. This does not mean the child is naughty; it’s a normal part of growing up.

What happened this afternoon, was not only dangerous and extremely frustrating, but it has prompted me to ask the question, “Are all Canberrans this unhelpful?”

As I exited the Coles Supermarket at Gungahlin, my 2 year old wanted to walk. I allowed her to get out of her stroller, as she had been in the stroller for about 2 hours while I shopped. As I pushed the stroller with one hand, she walked by my side holding my other hand, until she noticed the walking escalators to the underground carpark. At this point, she broke free from my hand and she ran off. I had no option but to let go of my stroller, along with the groceries that were hanging on both sides, and also my handbag. The stroller tipped over when I let it go from the weight on its handles. I didn’t care. Toddler was all that was on my mind as she was going down the ‘up’ escalator.

A young couple were approaching the escalator and they were closer to the escalator then I was. I could see them watching my toddler run, and I hoped they would grab her, but no, they were happy to just let her run down the ‘up’ escalator without a worry in the world. She fell, hurt herself, and when I got there – after dumping my stroller and goods – it was obvious that I was caught in a very difficult and quite a dangerous situation. I needed someone to help me. I managed to jump backwards with my toddler in my arms, only to see the same young couple half way down the escalator just staring at what had just happened. They shook their heads in disgust and even managed a smirk or giggle. They had their own toddler walking next to them.  I quickly buckled my toddler into the stroller, and then collected the things with one hand, and went down the ‘down’ escalator this time. As I got downstairs, I saw the same young couple. I said “One day that might just happen to you and you’ll want help.” The young man replied by saying “We don’t have naughty kids”. I replied by saying “It’s normal for toddlers to want to run. You probably don’t realise that it’s a normal part of growing up”.

It was his “We don’t have naughty kids” comment, that prompted me to write my story on RiotACT. Please, when you see a mother with a child in an awkward or difficult situation, please don’t just stand there and please don’t pass judgment. A helping hand goes a long way. My child eats healthy food, does not have ADHD, is extremely polite and well behaved, but she’s TWO, and she will test out those little legs at every opportunity. In hindsight, I probably should have kept her in the stroller, and I probably should have yelled out “Help me please!”, or “Stop that child!”. I did neither, but I didn’t deserve to be told that my child is “naughty”.

I have no doubt I’ll get a bunch of people telling me it’s my fault yadda, yadda, yadda, but honestly, can you say it’s a decent thing to do to just let someone get into trouble like this with a toddler, just walk on by and not care. They had the opportunity to help, but they did not. That is a sad reflection on society. I have seen mothers in trouble before, and I will uually ask “Do you need help”, or “Let me hold the grocery bag while you grab the child”, or whatever. More often then not, they are happy to accept a helping hand from a stranger.

On the 1st Anniversary of the death of Brendan Keilar, the man who stopped to help a woman in the streets of Melbourne, only to be shot himself, I ask myself, why are so many people unwilling to help others these days? Surely a mother and toddler deserve a helping hand, if only to collect the groceries from the floor.

Is this unhelpful attitude unique to Canberra, or are people generally so unhelpful these days wherever you go?

Thanks for reading.; you can go back to your political threads now for more stimulating debate.

Whinge over.

What’s Your opinion?


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114 Responses to
Are all Canberrans this unhelpful?
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realityskin 3:03 pm 21 Jun 08

FF is a bit much.

missjill 2:50 pm 21 Jun 08

overheard, yes, single dads have it tough too, especially when the other party doesn’t have kids, or, doesn’t understand the concept of FF.

That’s Family First, not cup size!

Overheard 11:59 am 21 Jun 08

missjill said :

Boy, that’s nice. But may I make a suggestion? Please start wearing a T-shirt saying “Coffee if you’re a SMOT” (single mum of toddler). You know the hardest thing about being a single mum? The stigma. Some people see single mum and think, oh, she must be a smoking drug addicted alcoholic living off Centrelink and Child Support. So not true. Flat white with none please.

Except for a lot of single dads who appreciate single mums because by and large you’re on the same page and understand concepts like, ‘Sorry about this weekend, but my kids come first’.

“CC’s? Very crisp. Natural flavour.”

Swoon again!

missjill 11:40 am 21 Jun 08

Thanks gun street girl and ant.

Yes I agree. I would never let my child run free in a shopping centre on purpose. Slippery floors, too many people, unsafe escalators, things to hide behind, people and trolleys to bump into, not to mention the risks on top floors such as Westfield and Woden. Memories of James Bulger in the back of my mind. This was a one-off and I was holding her before she took off. I’m an old-style parent – discipline. But it can be difficult with a 2 year old as most of the parents on this forum have mentioned. Can’t wait till she’s three, four or five when I’ll encounter a whole new set of challenges!

ant 11:12 am 21 Jun 08

Gun Street Girl said:

gun street girl said :

I think what many of us care more about is whether they have their kids under control. What happened to you – with your kid running off on a two-year-old whim – is understandable. What’s NOT so understandable, is parents who consistently let their children run riot, like the shopping centre is an adventure playground, all with the expectation that others around them will help keep their kid safe if and when they get in harm’s way.

Right-on. There’s a whole generation of kids growing up who think that any public place is their rumpus room or back yard.

gun street girl 9:59 am 21 Jun 08

Oh, crap. HTML mistake – my bad. The second paragraph’s mine.

gun street girl 9:57 am 21 Jun 08

missjill said :

madman said :

You know the hardest thing about being a single mum? The stigma. Some people see single mum and think, oh, she must be a smoking drug addicted alcoholic living off Centrelink and Child Support. So not true.

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I see a woman (or a man, for that matter) who is shopping with a kid in tow, I don’t immediately assume they are a single parent – for all I know, their partner could be at work, or at home, or whatever. To be honest, I really don’t care whether you’re single or partnered – it’s not something I give much of a thought to. For what it’s worth, I think what many of us care more about is whether they have their kids under control. What happened to you – with your kid running off on a two-year-old whim – is understandable. What’s NOT so understandable, is parents who consistently let their children run riot, like the shopping centre is an adventure playground, all with the expectation that others around them will help keep their kid safe if and when they get in harm’s way.

missjill 9:48 am 21 Jun 08

madman said :

If they were havin a really bad time I would offer to buy a coffee or help them to the car – no doubt about it.

Boy, that’s nice. But may I make a suggestion? Please start wearing a T-shirt saying “Coffee if you’re a SMOT” (single mum of toddler). You know the hardest thing about being a single mum? The stigma. Some people see single mum and think, oh, she must be a smoking drug addicted alcoholic living off Centrelink and Child Support. So not true. Flat white with none please.

CC’s? Very crisp. Natural flavour.

Pandy 8:52 am 21 Jun 08

Sorry. Mouth full of CC’s

Overheard 1:59 am 21 Jun 08

Pandy said :

Are your CC’s cheese falboured?

Pandy, don’t talk with your mouth full!

Pandy 12:34 am 21 Jun 08

“flavoured” even

Pandy 12:34 am 21 Jun 08

Are your CC’s cheese falboured?

realityskin 11:46 pm 20 Jun 08

missjill said :

Actually, they’re more like CC’s, and they go well with hoummos.

False advertising.. (you must be on RSVP :P)… you said DD *girls*

Special G 7:33 pm 20 Jun 08

Don’t lose hope MissJill – Mrs G jsut got back from the shops with Baby G2 and whilst at the check out had the lady in front of her stop to help unload her trolley and the lady who turned up shortly after offered to help carry the bags out to the car.

Two helpful people in the same place – who’d have thunk it.

6

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