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FRESH OFF THE PLANE: Newcomer learns to let kids be kids

I recently heard a woman shush her child loudly in a department store aisle and was reminded of the time I was chastised for  doing the exact same thing when we were new in Canada. We were there picking up a few things after a long day at work for me and daycere for my daughter. She was tired and let everyone in the vicinity know it. 

An elderly lady came up to me and said, “Don’t do that! She’s just a baby and babies are noisy.” 

I tried explaining that I was embarrassed we were disturbing other shoppers and she said everyone who had children understood and those who didn’t, well, they would when they had children of their own!

Then there was the time I was holding my daughter by the wrist while walking her home from school and a neighbour asked me why I was holding her like that, by the wrist and not by the hand.

“So she won’t escape!” I responded brightly and after exchanging a few pleasantries, continued on our walk home.

It was our first winter in Canada and our daughter had just discovered the joys of snow. On that very day, I’d been left holding her mitt when she slipped her hand out of it and skipped off to play in the snow. I let her do it a couple of times, but it was getting late and dark – oh, how quickly darkness fell in winter – and I was anxious to get home soon. This time, I held her firmly by the wrist as we made our way home. 

We were new in the neighbourhood and hadn’t yet met and introduced ourselves to all the neighbours. So what this neighbour saw was a woman dragging a child along the street when what I was actually doing was holding on to her. 

It was later, when I shared the story with a friend who had been here a few years, that I understood the deeper meaning behind the seemingly innocuous question.

“He thought you might be an abusive person,” said my friend. “And your answer about preventing escape didn’t help! He could have called the authorities on you and then you’d have been in so much trouble. Thank goodness, something about you made him rethink his first assessment of the situation.”

All this flashed though my mind as I overcame my hesitation to interfere and made my way to the lady to tell her to let the child do what children do – make a little noise!
                                                                                                                      – Subhadra Mathur

What’s your story? Every newcomer, no matter how savvy or where he or she comes from, has a Fresh Off the Plane (FOP) story to share about their early days in Canada. Do you want to share your story? E-mail it to us at canadaboundimmigrant@rogers.com.

Posted: Jun 30, 2014

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