Which one are you?

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I had to go shopping with all three kiddos today…twice. Those of you with small children, a good memory, or an ounce of empathy know that this is risky. Kids are like time bombs waiting to go off. Any mom can look at a kid screaming in a store and (if she’s honest) think, “At any moment, that could be me.” It’s not necessarily the mark of poor parenting skills if a kid is having a meltdown. Leading up to my day today, the rant it caused, and subsequently this post was the events of this week. This week has been one of my busier weeks. We were gone all weekend at Comicon (still makes me grin….see post here) and then had a line up of play dates, birthday parties, baby showers, etc. Then to add to it all, I got sick. Apparently quite common when put in a confined area with thousands of people…go figure. At any rate, I have spent most of this week sleeping and feeling like one large bag of mucus…to running around getting things done as fast as possible…to collapsing and again feeling like a large bag of mucus. Today was the first day of semi-alertness where I could accomplish basic tasks for my family. Like buying food for us to eat.
Now, my girls aren’t too bad in stores. They’re old enough to be redirected and understand expectations when explained to them. King Toot is my problem. He is…..strong willed. This is a nice way of saying he is more stubborn than a donkey, and I can’t even get mad since he gets it from me. If he doesn’t want to be somewhere, there is no way you’re going to change his mind. And so it begins.
First I made a run to Costco. Notice, today is Saturday. Being that I stay at home, I like to shop mid week, mid morning. Park close, race through the store, out in twenty minutes tops. Of course today was packed…but as we had a ketchup packet and some crackers left for dinner I weighed the pros and cons and decided crackers with a ketchup garnish wasn’t going to cut it so off we went. (I’m sure that was a run on sentence…but I’m still sick so I could make this whole post one long run on sentence and not really care) To my surprise, my kids were angelic. Two were in the cart (Good gravy, glad I reread this…that originally said car…not cart!) and Sasquatch was helping me push. They never cried, whined, and she never strayed from my side. I was delirious with joy (or fever). So we’re standing there, waiting patiently in this ginormous line, and my kids are quite. King Toot is playing contentedly with my keys, and Sasquatch and Urpling are content with people watching. Again, this is miraculous as we no longer have motion to help keep them calm. Everyone knows, once the cart stops the chances of meltdown increase by about ten million…to the ten millionth power. But nothing. Three happy, quiet children. The line is long and pushes us up to the aisles and we had been waiting for several minutes. During which Sasquatch was tired and so she had bent over at the waist and was swaying from side to side with her rear sticking out. Apparently by doing this she had taken up about an inch more space behind us and was preventing some woman and her husband from getting through. I hear someone say, “Excuse me!” and look up at the same time as Sasquatch. Without me saying anything, Sasquatch says, “Oh sorry!” and straightens up. I’m delighted at her good manners by that delight withers as this woman rolls her eyes and glares at my daughter. I mean really? My first thought was, “You should be glad King Toot has decided he wants to be here right now or a five year old standing an inch too far back from the cart would be the least of your problems!” I was incensed, and felt a certain grim vindication when the line she chose took a lot longer than the others.
Fast forward a few hours and we are now making a run to Walmart for a few other smaller items (things we didn’t want a years supply of). This time, King Toot decided he wanted to hold the bag of carrots, then try to chew the carrots up through the bag, and was very angry that I wouldn’t let him. So he was screaming throughout the store. I have to say this. Strong willed children are difficult to raise. They have a mind of their own that is not easily swayed. They will not agree to something just because you said so, or because you threaten them with time out. No matter how consistent. It needs to make sense to them. But I will also say this, they will be the leaders of future generations. No one will persuade my son to do something he feels isn’t right. No peer pressure will sway him, no promises of riches, or threats will change his mind. If I stick to it, if I can patiently guide and shape him, to take time to show him what’s right and what’s not…he will change the world and no one will be able to stop him. A true hero!
But all that brought me little comfort as my son screamed his echoing, piercing, angry scream throughout the store. But instead of glares, I got looks of compassion. One of the store ladies came up and gave all my kids a balloon. I may not be a fan of rewarding screaming, but her compassion was good enough for me. She didn’t judge, she tried to help. My son stopped and I was able to finish shopping in peace and my girls were so delighted that they thanked the lady over and over and gushed over their beautiful balloons the rest of the trip. The balloons are tied to their beds so they can look at them while they sleep and it warmed my heart.
So my question is, which one are you? Do you roll your eyes and glare at the sick and frantic mom for the slightest infraction? Or do you show compassion even in the face of the most awful noise on the planet? Because of that clerk my day ended well…even though I’m sick.

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2 thoughts on “Which one are you?

  1. Mandy

    Not all moms are like you. I gave a woman a courtesy look and laughed at children in general at the mall tonight, and she grabbed her son and started screaming at him. And let’s be honest, some parents don’t care what their kids do, three older kids pushed my don down on the ground so they could see the dogs in the pet store, and she just smiled at me and walked away. I gave then and get nasty looks…

    • I guess I’m saying that it’s important to keep things in perspective. Of course there will always be situations that need not apply. If you see actual abuse, or (as in your example) your own family is involved. But keep in mind, I know of no parent that starts off thinking, “I want to be the worst parent there is. I want to scream at my kids, hang my head in shame when I head out in public, or hide my shock with a smile.” But we never know the situations these families come from. Single parent who has no break, no sign of relief from endless work and strain. A death in the family or some other tragedy that is adding undo stress. A lonely mother with no family or even friends to turn to for help. Financial strain and just trying to get food on the table. These are extreme but do happen and I rarely take the time to ponder what these other parents are struggling with. I was pretty smug about even screaming kids in stores. Why? I had two kids and they never did that. So God decided to give me a piece of humble pie and gave me a son who does. I’m consistent, he is not spoiled and yet he screams like a living terror if he’s decided he does not want to be shopping right then. I pray it’s a phase but who knows. It’s given me perspective on all the other parents I am so smug about. What if I am put in their situation? What if whatever is going on behind the scenes happens to me and I can’t take all the stares and finally lose it? Long preachy rant aside, I guess after three kids I’m truly realizing how little I know about being a good parent and how close I come sometimes to being “that mom”. I get a break, have a husband who’ll relieve the stress, friends and family to reach out to for comfort or support or advice. But what if I didn’t have that? Something that’s been on my mind for a while now.

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