To that bitchy lady in Home Depot…

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?

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11 Responses

  1. Beautifully said. And, I wish I could be there to give you an “even-though-I-don’t-have-kids-I-understand” kind of look. You are a wonderful mom, and a beautiful woman.

  2. Very well said. I can’t stand it when passer-bys only have negative looks to give when my child is having a breakdown in the store. I don’t feel the need to remove her, because she will calm down, but honestly, if you don’t have anything nice to say, or help the situation, you should just move on.

    You are a good mother. We all have our trials, and really BAD days. But that doesn’t mean we should be judged by others. That woman either doesn’t have kids, or romanticized the experience when she was raising her children.

  3. Great post! Only now that I’m a mom do I think of what the mother is going through. Plus, I know I’m going to have a lot of these moments for the next twenty years of my life so your post gives me hope there will be some compassionate smiles along the way! You couldn’t have said it any better.

  4. When I am out, what bothers me is when parents DON’T mind their kids and let them run around all willy-nilly. Giving your child consequences, with the ensuing meltdown, was the total right thing to do. And everyone should know that. If they can’t clue in to that, then they’re idiots. It sounds like that lady was just an old fogey-stogey.

  5. Heck, when I see a kid pulling an all-out tantrum AND I see a parent enforcing consequences, I’m a happy camper — not just because the kid’s off the floor & out of the way, but also because it’s so rare to see a parent take charge. It makes me proud of that parent. Is that weird? LOL When I see a child yelling bloody murder while throwing a fit and the parent does nothing but allow it to continue, those are the ones that frustrate me. Sometimes I’ll see a parent who’s trying really hard to enforce a consequence and they look like they are about to have a meltdown of their own, and I don’t know — I just want to reach out to them and help… I rarely do though, because some people take it the wrong way or get defensive (“I’ve failed as a mother if a stranger feels they have to intervene”) or what not. So hey, if you’ve got a kid who’s run off while you’re trying to hold onto another, look for the woman smiling at you and giving you a thumbs up. She’ll help you hunt down your little explorer. 😉

  6. Thanks for understanding. Unfortunately, I think one of the problems is that I’m of the camp that thinks you should ignore tantrums and fits after consequences are given. Sometimes, it might look like I’m ignoring my kid. Though, I often voice extra statements of reassurance like “You’re in the cart because you ran away from me. I’m sorry; your choice…” just to keep passerbys from wondering too much what’s going on with us. So many people expect you to keep your kids quiet and smiling… especially after consequences… but, you can’t “make” a kid shut up without either giving in to what they want or severely threatening them–which only works with certain personalities and following through. Kids can’t control their emotions at this age and passerbys shouldn’t expect their parents to. I can’t parent in a noise-proof bubble. Sorry.

    • @Angela – Oh yeah, I know that there are times where NOT giving attention by ignoring bad behavior is necessary, as I’ve been that route as well. But unfortunately, there are many people out there who feel that the noise or whatever “encroaches” their freedoms/rights/privileges, so to speak, and those are the ones that make public discipline difficult — but not impossible.

      In a way, I can understand their point of view — such as couples going to a fine restaurant or a movie theater (to watch movies rated higher than PG13) to enjoy each other’s company (or if they’re parents — they’d appreciate a night off from the tantrums even if it’s not their own kids doing it). It was actually my single girlfriend who pointed this out to me, and she had said it best when she mentioned that, “you don’t appreciate it when people smoke around your kids even though it’s a public place/venue where smoking’s allowed… so why would you take offense or be defensive about someone disliking the tantrum your child’s pulling in that same public place/venue?”

      When I was weaning rugrat from nursing and from sleeping in our bed, she would scream and cry for hours on end. Hubby, son, and I could easily tune it out so that rugrat would see that her tantrums wouldn’t get her what she wants, until one of the neighbors thought rugrat was being murdered (or at least she screamed like it), and next thing you know — the cops were at our door asking questions. Fortunately the cops saw the 3 of us in the living room (not beating her to death!) and we carried her out to meet them. She stopped crying but then she was scared of being taken away…

      Although that visit stopped rugrat’s weaning tantrums for good — it also scared her so much that she holds back crying even when seriously hurt and she’s afraid to scream for help when a stranger approaches her — all because she doesn’t want to be taken away by the cops. It was a bad experience for rugrat, and I hate that some anonymous coward put her through it instead of knocking at our door to ask/see if everything was ok, or to ask us if we could keep it down, or something less traumatic — giving us parents the opportunity to rectify the situation first.

      • Woah, that’s nuts! And, btw, I hate when anybody brings a rugrat to the movies! We saw the last Batman movie behind a 4 year old and a 1 year old. You’ve got to be kidding me. I spent the whole movie being angry. Inappropriate.

  7. Her ugly mug would be cycling through my mind, too! I was practicing fake tell-offs to her…:)

    It’s stinks to be misunderstood. Keep up the good work! There will always be cray-crays!

  8. I love this. I am a mother of four and cannot count the number of times people sent “judging” looks. Ironically, many of these icons of society did not even have children yet. I remember walking out of church with a screaming child once and my single brother frowning and furrowing his brow at me. NOW? He has four little brats (they are my sweethearts most of the time), who scream, pick their noses, fart, and other most delightful things. I thank God every time one of his kids act up. He has also become very silent on my style of parenting! =)

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