In July 2015 we visited Nevis Range, Fort William and there was a foreign couple in the queue ahead of us with a (roughly) 3 year old boy and a 4 year old girl. The boy fell over and wailed for ages, kicking and screaming in his mother’s arms, while they bought tickets.
A while later, at the end of a walk to a viewpoint I watched the boy push his sister off a bench which made her cry and try to battle him to the ground while the mother tried to pull them apart.
We saw them again in the restaurant, at the table beside us. The dad was in the queue for food while the kids yelled and fought over which of them would sit on the window seat, while the mother tried to persuade them to stop. To no avail. The younger boy threw an almighty tantrum which prompted the mother to drag him out of the emergency exit, leaving the girl on her own at the table. The mother eventually came back in, leaving the boy outside. She sat at the table, briefly, and put her head in her hands, before going back out to get him.
I don’t often speak to strangers in such circumstances but kindly folk have, in the past, given me words of comfort and encouragement on the many occasions when my boys were younger and behaved appallingly in public. It can leave you feeling so drained and humiliated.
So I told the mother how often my kids had behaved like that and how awful it had made me feel. I think she appreciated it: she was trying not to cry.
I hope she managed to eat her lunch before it got cold – but it’s unlikely.