It is my most overused word, apart from “no”.
I utter it in supermarkets, in car parks, at the playground, while I’m walking down the street, at home, and especially while travelling on public transport.
What’s the word? Sorry.
I am constantly apologising for my parenting.
Sorry we’re in the way.
Sorry I’m being slow.
Sorry my house is a mess.
Sorry about the noise.
Sorry to everyone who has ever sat in the same carriage as me on a train.
Sorry does not seem to be the hardest word. It spews forth far too easily in fact.
But I’ve been thinking lately, what am I apologising for? My children behave exactly the same as other kids their own age. They are the very definition of normal.
Tantrums, shrieking, banging toys together and getting under people’s feet are all part of life with a toddler/pre-schooler.
It’s like apologising for breathing.
I am a huge stickler for manners, and will always encourage my children to say sorry when they have barged into someone or been rude.
But should I apologise for having two screaming kids on a train? No, I don’t think I should. I should attempt to show them the correct way to behave in public places, of course. But show me someone who can reason with an 18-month-old and I’ll show you a pig that poops gold.
I get that it’s annoying, believe me, I bloody know how annoying the noise is.
But if you’re not the one having to deal with it, then I say you should just be grateful that you can continue to stare out of the window, blissfully free from parental responsibilities during this journey.
Children are a part of the great circle of life. We can’t just shut them away and pretend that they don’t exist until they’re old enough to sit quietly while staring at smartphones like the rest of us.
And do we want to make our kids feel bad for being themselves? Apologising that your child is talkative or enthusiastic is just wrong. These are things we want to encourage, not create a complex about.
Kids have as much right to be on public transport, and other public places, as anyone else. And they have a right to be themselves at home.
Most importantly, parents have as much right to be in those places as anyone else. We have enough to feel bad about already, the mum guilt never ends!
Next time you think about apologising for your parenting, try a friendly smile instead. You have nothing to be sorry for.