We're walking in the park, Grace and me, and I can feel their eyes burning in the back of my head as they pass. They're judging me, I know it. It's flipping nippy when the sun hides behind a cloud, and what started out as ambling along to feed the ducks and swans ended up with me wanting to scream out to random passers by "don't judge me... I am a good Mother!!"
Grace you see, has a mind of her own, which quite rightly we are working to nuture. Independent and thriving she has some rather fixed ideas on what she does and does not want to do. Like wearing a hat and coat for instance. So empathise my predicament then when Grace throws off her coat with contempt and dumps her hat in a puddle, not once, not twice, but every time I try to put them back on. Short of flashing my badge and cuffing her, there is nothing I can do.
So we carry on our walk (back towards the car and home), she gets colder and grumpier with it. This makes life harder - whenever I try slyly to pop the hat back on while she's walking as if by magic she wont notice, she stops and stares at me, stomps her foot and does what looks scarily like flipping the birdy. (Turns out she's just saying 'Shoo!').
I'm flustered. I have my hat and coat on and I'm cold... not least because I'm walking the pace of a 28 inch toddler. Grace on the other hand is a toddler on a mission - to have Mummy squirm as other Mother's and older folk totter past, clock the child with blue hands and cheeks wearing a flimsy fleece and cast me a scouring look that says 'call social services'. They haven't seen my trying, they haven't seen the fireworks going off when I try to pin her down and get the hat on. They don't realise it's probably easier for me to let Grace learn her own lessons in life. They're judging.
I try not to let it bother me - we all judge people sometime or another, but it pains me today, simply because I wanted her to be warm and comfortable, not blue and miserable. To purge, I put the heating on full bore when we got home to make it nice and toasty for my little blue girl. She looks grateful and goes for her nap like clockwork.
She wakes two hours later with her hair stuck to her face with sweat and a look that says 'open the window Mummy, you're cooking me'. I can't win!