Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thinking Thursdays: The strangeness of strangers

Our two boys love taking public transport, and are always game for a bus ride or a trip on the MRT. We rely on public transport frequently, since I don't drive (or rather, I have a license, but do not have the guts to take our manual car on the road!), and they usually regard each trip as quite an adventure.

However, sometimes the adventure turns out to be rather strange. Like the day I went out with Junior J to town. We boarded the MRT and had to stand as the train was really crowded at 10.30 am. After one stop, some kind souls offered up their seats to us, and Junior J settled comfortably into his seat next to me. He was tired that day, having woken up much earlier than usual, so I was glad that we managed to get two seats. At the next stop, a lady (probably in her late fifties or early sixties) boarded the crowded train, and promptly made a bee-line for Junior J. She tapped him on the shoulder, and told him loudly to get up and sit on my lap so that she could have his seat. 

Initially I was rather surprised, since those seated around us were all young, able-bodied folk. Junior J, being the reserved and introverted fellow he is, was rather freaked out at having a stranger give him commands and did what he usually does when he panics: he said no, and burrowed his head in my lap. I was in a fix: should I force him to sit on my lap, given that it would be very uncomfortable for me since he is relatively heavy, and my belly was quite large at 28 weeks, or stand and give up my seat? Or should I just ignore the lady? I guess it was a reasonable request, an elderly lady asking for a seat on the train. But of all people, the littlest person in that carriage? 

Thankfully, the person sitting next to Junior J gave up his seat to the lady, and we were spared. The ironic thing was the train then stalled at the next stop, apparently due to some obstruction at a door, and we were asked to disembark and wait for the next train! (Oddly enough, the train doors were not able to close due to the obstruction, but after everyone got off, the doors closed and the train sped off, empty!)

Now if you were me, what would you have done? I'd think it would be appropriate for older children to give up their seats to others who need it, but I'd think we'd be looking at kids aged eight and above, those that could safely stand in the train on their own. Or am I just spoiling the kid? 

PS: Another issue I have with strangers would be those that take photos of my children (you can read one mum's experience here). Previously, when we travelled overseas with Junior J when he was a baby, we sometimes got approached by tourists who wanted to take a snapshot with him. We sometimes said yes, but felt it was really odd. But these days, with all the talk about privacy and sharing photos online, I'd be inclined to say no. I think the worst are those who secretly or casually snap photos of the kids without asking for permission (one mum blogged about such an incident here). Would you let them, or would you ask for the photos to be deleted?

Linking up with:'s Talkative Thursdays


  1. Gosh that lady sounds really weird. Why should the little boy have to give up his seat? I guess I would have told her politely that he needed the seat too, and asked her if she could find another person to harass instead. :P
    As for strangers taking photos of my baby, I haven't encountered those before, thankfully, but I've had some who tried to kiss him! I think if they looked harmless enough, like young schoolchildren, or are obviously tourists, I might not mind, but if they looked dodgy, I would say no.

  2. There will always be people who thinks they are king or queen just because they are elderly. Though I don't blame her but she should have been able to see that you are already heavily pregnant and asked J to sit on your lap would not have been possibly any comfortable! sheesh!

  3. I would've poked my big belly into her field of vision. But that's me because I'm brash and obnoxious. Haha! But old folks being old folks, she probably didn't see your belly and maybe she really wanted to sit with Junior J? He's pretty darn cute you know? At least your neighbour gave her his seat. About the snappy happy people, we've had a few locals and tourists snapping pictures of our kid. Yesterday while walking behind my husband who had my kid on his shoulders, I saw a girl ran towards them and took a shot of them from the back and then ran away again. Har? Weird leh. I guess as long as he was not in a compromising position, it's ok. Like Adeline, I've had a guy, A GUY who tried very hard to kiss my kid at the supermarket the other day. He tailed us from the check out counter all the way to the entrance of the carpark hoping to get a good angle to kiss my kid. I had stepped in between them several times and finally had to shout NO, shielded my kid's cheek and pulled him away from the guy but he didn't really seem to mind my hostility. Creepy!

  4. That's a really strange woman! No one in the right frame of mind would ask a child to sit on his pregnant mom's lap!! Glad that someone gave up the seat instead.
    Just the other day, I boarded a crowded train, carrying my boy in the carrier, and stood in front of a young lady who was glued to her phone. In the reserved seat sat a relatively old aunty. She looked at me with baby and smiled. I smiled back; she probably needed that seat more. Eventually someone from another part of the carriage gave up the seat for me - and that girl glued to her device? She never looked up, not even once.

  5. The same thing happened to my 4-yr-old just this week! It happened on a crowded bus, my boy and I were standing and a kind lady gave up her seat for him. So I continued to stand while my boy sat down. Then an elderly lady came along and asked my boy to stand up and let her sit. My boy been a very shy boy was scared stiff, he thought he has done something wrong and quickly stood up and hid behind me. Then the old lady keep asking my boy to sit on her lap, which of course, my boy refused profusely.

    Stranger snapping photo of my boy happened once when he was very young, around 1 yr plus? It happened at Takashimaya Baby Fair. He was sitting on a rocking horse and there's this tourist who just came by and snapped a photo of him. I was so taken back that I didn't do anything at all.

    I myself encounter some strange people when I was pregnant with my boy. It happened on the MRT. I was visibly pregnant then and was standing on a crowded train. Then a girl in her early 20s wanted to alight, so I moved toward the seat and wanted to sit down but she stopped me and asked a guy standing behind me if he wanted the seat. Initially, I thought they are friends then later I realised they do not know each other. The guy is in his 30s and not carrying anything at all. The guy was so surprised and said no to her. Only then she nodded at me, indicating that I can take her seat now. This happened to me twice during my pregnancy and the girls are all in their 20's asking the guy's in their 30's if they wanted their seat before they alight. And they all stopped me from taking their seat till the guys told them that they do not need their seat.

    Till now, I still do not understand the reason behind. *scratch head*


  6. That's a really strange lady and a weird encounter. Hopefully Junior J was not too freaked out. Being the chili padi me, (if I had been in your shoes - all of 28 weeks preggie and spotting a big tummy) I would have said "MY SON IS REALLY YOUNG AND I AM VERY PREGNANT. IF YOU LIKE, I CAN STAND UP, BEING ALL OF 7 MONTHS PREGNANT, AND GIVE YOU MY SEAT?!?! AND I SHALL PRAY THAT THERE ARE NO SUDDEN JERKS WHILE I AM STANDING?" :P I am evil, I know.

  7. these are pretty strange encounters i'm reading here. i guess we really need to keep a look out and stay alert whenever strangers (however nice they may seem) want to take pics / touch our kids. because if anything goes wrong, we parents get the blame for not looking out for our kids. sigh!

  8. I haven't had weird encounters on public transport, thankfully, as I wouldn't know how to react and would be very disgruntled. I do however get folks talking pics of Meips all the time! Especially when I go to a tourist spot, almost certainly I'll see someone try to take her picture. I mostly don't mind but you're right, I should be more careful about letting her pics float around somewhere out there.

  9. Hmm if it were to happened to me, I guess I would have gotten my son and let the aunty have the seat. As for taking photos, we did encountered quite a few when my elder son was younger around 1 year plus. He was playing at a water fountain with just his diapers when a group of tourists just appeared suddenly and started snapping photos! We were cool about it cos he was really cute so I guess they think so too? haha

  10. From a traveller point of view, they might want the pictures of the kids to remember the 'people' of the place. Like how we like to take total strangers in a foreign country because it's not only the buildings or environment. People, culture are also important.
    For a pro photographer, they might be wanting free models for 'stock' photography. Then they could sell their pictures of kids.
    My boy had his picture taken once in Botanic Gardens too when he was cutely running around. Tourists took it with a pro camera. Guess they might be wanting to remember the place... Can't do anything because it's just a flash.
    MRT rides - I would ALWAYS approach abled people sitting in the reserved seat to give up their seat for my boy the moment I enter the carriage. Just ask. They will not decline because it's embarrassing to do so. People might just not know you need the seat or didn't notice so don't just lament people for looking at their phones. I look at my phone for my hour long journey, reading novels on it, oblivious to anything else because I'm so engrossed.



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