About a year ago, I quit being affected by those disapproving looks at the grocery store… until, yesterday.
Yesterday, we were in Home Depot picking up some paint samples. First of all, picking out paint colors stresses me out. How many freaking shades of yellow can there be? Bring along two cranky kids with you, and you’re asking for it, right?
It started out when I let Sophia down from the shopping cart while I was speaking with a group of men about picking out blinds. After losing Sophia around the corner, I let her know the consequences of what would happen if that happened again. The men who were consulting with me all either nodded or said, “I totally understand. My kids do the same thing.”
Moments later she disappeared around the corner again, testing me. I grabbed her and put her in the cart–consequences for leaving my line of sight. The screaming and falling apart began. I finished my business in the blinds department, and we quickly moved on to pick up the paint and get out of the store.
I was un-phased by Sophia. She acted bad; she got consequences. This is my every day. But, the horrible glances I got! The woman getting our paint gave each of the kids a sticker. It was nice, but it did nothing for Sophia’s meltdown. She begged me to get out and “try again.” (That’s her new thing.) After I said, “No. You ran away from me in the store. Your consequence is that you will stay in the cart until we leave, ” she continued her yelling fit. Just as we approached the cashier, an older woman with the most disdainful look of disapproval I have EVER seen scowled directly at me. It cut me. I wasn’t angry at her. I didn’t yell, “Whachoo lookin’ at, B#%$^?” like I wanted to, I just stared back at her with wonder, watched her pass by, and then laughed out loud. Her look was deeply passionate and so angry.
I am a GOOD mother! My daughter ran away from me in the store. I will not tolerate the possibility of her getting lost or kidnapped or otherwise hurt in a home improvement store. So, I am giving her the consequences! Yah, she’s screaming. She’s 3. She doesn’t like consequences any better than you do. But, I am a GOOD mother! I am doing what is best for her. Control my daughter? Is that what your disapproving look says to me? Well, Scowl-face, thank you. I’m doing just that. I am teaching her how to behave. I am sorry that it intruded on your day.
Why is it that a kid’s tantrum can cause passerbys to go so bitchy on a stranger? I haven’t been able to get her ugly mugg out of my mind. Why is that? Do I feel sorry for her? Maybe, I wonder what’s going on with her that she would intentionally throw such a look at me. Or, maybe it’s the fact that I say it doesn’t bother me, but it clearly does.
Well, then there was today. Sunflower Market was our fourth stop this morning. We picked up some groceries on double savings Wednesdays. Crowded market, but worth the extra savings. Sophia was upset with me for not letting her ride in the cart since Abby was in the baby seat, so I let her ride in the large part of the cart. She was pretty tired from being dragged around 3 other stores… About 5 minutes into her joyride amongst my groceries, I saw that she had pulled the top off of our gallon of milk and was holding it! As I saw the milk about to slosh out, I snapped at her, “You can’t do that!” I ripped the milk and cap from her hands and yanked her up out of the cart and onto the ground. Sophia, of course, went into meltdown, i.e. Screamfest 2011. This woman walking by only feet from me gave me the warmest knowing look–a kind smile and eyes that said, “I understand how the same kids you love so dearly can also infuriate you.” I wanted to hug this woman! How is it that two women can act so entirely different to similar situations? I could blame it on the scowling woman’s age: She looked to be in her 60s, where the woman in Sunflower looked to be in her early 30s. I could blame it on the days they were personally having, their upbringing, their own parenting expectations (or lack of them). But this is nothing new. You know if you’re a mom of young children, you get these looks all. the. time. Why is it that other people’s kids’ behavior create such a reaction in onlookers?
Unfortunately, I can’t deny that I am completely un-phased by a passerby’s scowl or smile. After all, we live in a community. And, we all must want each other to succeed… right?
To those women looking onto young mothers trying to parent in public: Stop thinking about yourself and how much the crying bothers you. Think about that mother. Think about how much she wants to raise a respectable member of society. Think about how she disciplines because she loves. Avert your eyes if you must. But, if you can muster up enough unselfishness, give her a look of compassion. Don’t you want someone to smile at you when your trying your hardest to be the best you can be?