Old Higgins watched with wonder. He had never seen a woman with such irrepressible zeal for her role. Here was a wonder mum indeed.
He watched as she intercepted the scuttling feet and caught her son into her arms, despite his protests and cries. “Look, you’re a bird! Look how you can fly!” She swung him to the left and right and chuckled as she did. He kicked and screamed and demanded the right to run, but she pulled him to her chest and pointed to the sheep on the hill. “Look at the sheep. How many sheep are there?”
While Higgins and others scanned the flock to make their estimate the boy would have none of it. He kicked his mother and pulled his arms free from her hold. “Let me go!” He demanded. “Would you like some food?” the wonder mum asked sweetly. “Let’s see what mummy has in her bag for you.” The boy settled and stood at her side as she opened her huge bag.
At The Station
“What an amazing woman”, each onlooker thought, as they waited for the train. This wonder mum had struggled with her implacable child for over twenty minutes, and just kept on being calm, enthusiastic and positive. Just about every other person would gladly have thrashed the boy, but the mother was determined to win him over with her winsome ways and her never-ending store of surprises and delights.
After just a bite or two the food was thrown to the ground and a loud complaint bellowed forth. “Oh dear”, thought the weary crowd. They had hoped for success this time. Higgins found his muscles tighten yet again at the pitch of the boy’s scream.
And so it continued another twenty minutes. Food, drink, games, distractions, tickles, toys, song and dance spun past in a constant stream of ineffectual efforts. The crowd was exhausted, but amazed to see the stamina of the wonder mum, who pressed on through it all.
When the train finally arrived everyone became distracted in the bustle for their allocated seats. Wonder mum found the energy to carry her problem child and her bags onto the carriage.
Higgins was relieved to find himself in a different car to the wonder mum. He wondered how he would have survived even being near the child for the day’s journey. He would tell his daughter all about this wonder mum, when he arrived for dinner.
The Exhausted Mum
He had just settled into his seat when, to his dismay, a woman and child arrived to sit opposite. Rage rose in his face and a scowl formed on his lips. This young lad was almost identical to the monster tormenting and exhausting the crowd for the past hour. Burying himself in his paper he silently resented the injustice of the seating.
The woman was too tired to give much attention to her boy. He asked her several questions and wanted various things to amuse him. But she could not muster the energy to attend to his requests. She simply told him to read his book and keep quiet.
As the hours passed Higgins saw the boy sit contented at his play as the tired mum dozed. When the lad had an issue his mother gave clear direction which he followed. She was too tired or sick to amuse him for a moment, yet he seemed perfectly willing to accept that limitation and face his day compliant to her demands.
In time Higgins chatted with the toddler and found him to be polite and respectful.
The Lucky Mum
This was indeed a lucky mum. She did not need to be a wonder mum, with such a compliant child.
When the woman revived she answered Higgins’ questions. No, her son was not born ‘good’. He had presented her with demands, tantrums and wilfulness, just as they both had seen in the other boy that morning. She had dealt with it firmly, despite his protests. She had disciplined him and trained him to obey her instructions, even when he did not want to. She punished him with sufficient severity to convince him that he was wisest to obey.
She had now trained him to be no difficulty to those around him and she could have peace and confidence despite being unwell or tired, for her son would not be a problem to himself or others. She had neither bag of tricks nor endless energy. She did not have the stamina of the wonder mum in the other carriage. And she did not believe a child should be allowed to disrupt life for others.
At the Destination
At their destination angry passengers escaped from one carriage after a tortuous day with the wonder mum and her rebellious son. As the crowd gathered to collect their bags the mother, still struggling with her wilful boy, smiled her apologies to people too upset to notice. Near her, the other mum had sufficient strength to collect her things and move quietly, with her son, to the exit.
Higgins observed both mums and looked on with pity as the long-suffering wonder mum struggled with her rebel and her bags.
That night Higgins told his daughter about an amazing mum he had seen that day. A woman who made a lasting impression on him and who he would like her to learn from and be like. He also told her about the foolish mum who tortured herself and everyone else by not disciplining her rebellious child.