The best way to step into the circle of shame


roscoe loving life in his buggy 

Now that my son has mastered walking, he wants to do it all the time. Which I get, I'm the woman that watched two seasons of House of Cards in 48 hours. The problem is he doesn't want to walk where I want him to walk; he's like a magnet for dangerous and/or breakable objects - I'd rather direct a small herd of dorset sheep round my local shopping centre. 

Roscoe recently turned two and his great aunt gave him some BHS vouchers. At first I was like, BHS? Don't you just go there to use the toilet? But in fact they have an ace kids department (so respect your elders kids). I chose a cute little parka for Scoe but in order to try it on I needed to face up to the epic trial that is getting him out of the buggy. I had words with myself in the kids pyjamas section and decided to be brave. After trying on his new coat Roscoe had a little wander round the shoe section and then I steered him to the till. At this point I said in my best mum voice, 'Right (the right is important). Back in the buggy.' I tried to do it swiftly but I was not swift enough and he started flailing like a landed fish. I realised quickly that I had entered into a battle of wills, if I backed down now I might be backing down for the rest of my life. 

I pulled my son into a small clearing in the store and we built an invisible circle of shame. In this circle I remain calm and focused to the task at hand, my fellow shoppers pretended not to see me and I pretended not to see them. I wrestled with my son for at least three minutes, I know it was this long because I heard a whole musac rendition of 'Rule the World', before a woman decided to enter our shame circle. It can be hard to be a supportive stranger without coming across as interfering but this woman did it with a bunch of charm and this what she did...


Smile. If you approach a struggling parent and do anything but smile, they'll probably feel judged. Feeling judged is not a warm and fluffy feeling. If you're gonna enter the circle of shame you have to make me feel that we're all in it together. 

Ask. Never assume anything, lest you have a penchant for having your head bitten off. This lady asked me, 'Is he okay?' I thought this was very clever. My son was clearly in vigourous health, what she was asking was, are you okay? 

State you expertise. This lovely stranger told me her grandson was going through a similar phase. For all I know this was a fictional child but it comforted me to imagine I wasn't the only person going through this.

Offer to help. Shame circle events are not spectator sports. You need to try and be helpful in a non invasive way, holding stuff is probably the most practical. This lady tried to distract Roscoe so that I could use the opportunity to get him in the buggy. He wasn't gonna fall for tactics as pedestrian as that but I liked that she tried. 


Roscoe eventually got tired and I was able to buckle him in (he's still there). The lady walked away and I thanked her, 'I didn't do anything,' she said. 

'Oh but you did,' I told her. She really did. 




Have you ever reached out to a struggling mum or dad?

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10 comments

  1. Lucky you! I tend to get the judgemental strangers nosing in...
    I think we all should reach out to help mums more but it's so hard to do without seeming judgy...your list is definitely a good place to start.

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    1. I mean on some level we are being judgey I guess. I'm making an effort to interact more generally, this is very hard for a londoner :)

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  2. Great post. I also discovered BHS once BB was born and its great for kids stuff - I also quite like the homeware too! #fromtheheart

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    1. Thanks. I think it's a secret hang out for many a mum. Fab discounts! Glad I've rediscovered it.

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  3. Oh, the kindness of strangers is just wonderful. I love this post - so funny and honest. Maybe I'll print the list and hand it out to people at the store. #fromtheheart

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    1. Ha ha, thank you. Or give people badges 'I intruded with charm'

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  4. Though i'm sure you were part mortified, this post made me chuckle. Great storytelling lovely x

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  5. Awww you poor darling! I hear this is totally normal. We are yet to experience this in public but she is certainly beginning the tantrum phases *bites nails*.
    PS. I secretly love BHS. They have an awesome home department too x

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    1. Thanks hun. I'm fairly sure there will be a day I'm longing for a buggy battle so I'm taking it in my stride :)

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  6. Happy to hear it worked out for everyone eventually. I had some not so favorable events that didn't end well and I had NOOO help...I felt helpless and I'm sure my son felt it thus why he continued. I try now to see what makes our little ones so frustrated and try to empathize with lots of patience on my part...it works better that way.

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