“Do you want me to go and buy him some chocolate, love?”

I’m hunched over my 7-month old son, my hands holding his, trying to steady him as he has an all-out tantrum. We’re waiting in a ferry terminal, looking out over the giant boat that we’ll board for the next 12 hours, taking us from the ferry port in the UK back home to Germany, via Holland. He’s wailing and throwing himself to the ground, and honestly? I’ve had enough. Kristin, my partner has also had enough. We’re tired, having spent two weeks on the road, staying in different places every few days and driving hundreds of miles. Neither of us have the energy or patience and we look at each other witheringly, hoping the other one will be able to calm him down.

“I can go and buy him some chocolate if you want? That’ll cheer him up.”

I hear the voice again. It’s a woman. I look up and see her standing 50 metres or so away from us. She’s grins, hands on hips and slowly starts to walk towards us.

My first reaction? “Oh just bog off. Leave us alone. Why would giving a 7-month old baby chocolate be a good thing to do? Stay out of this.”

But I don’t say it.

Instead, I shoot her an annoyed, just-stay-away look. I notice that Kristin is doing the same.

I feel hot and red and ready to explode. And she’s a perfect target to diffuse my exasperation. A complete stranger. Trying to help, but getting in the way.

I prepare to launch. To aim my irritation in her direction. Hackles raised.

And then, I pause. Just for a second and I look at her.

I really look at her.

Laughter lines trickle like tiny streams from the corners of her kind, bright blue eyes.

She smiles warmly and gestures to us that she can take him off our hands for a moment.

I smile back and shake my head, “I’m ok, really. But thank you!”

The irritation slips away and there in front of me stands another human.

Another human doing the best she can. Doing what she thinks is right.

And we – the parents of this tiny human losing his shit – are doing the best we can. Doing what we think is right.

In this weird, hard, beautiful world we live in, that’s all that matters, isn’t it?

To just do the best we can. 

{This is something I originally wrote for my mailing list. You can be on it too. This means you’ll be the first to know when I’ve written something new, as it’ll arrive straight into your inbox once a week. Want to add yourself? Just click here.}