Ok, we have all been there. We’ve all gone to the grocery store and experienced the child screaming at the top of their lungs, or running through the coat rack, or throwing things out of carts. I have been on both sides of it, anyone who is a parent probably has. Recently, I saw something that made me decide that I really needed to put this out there for people who have children and for those that don’t.
First of all, let me describe the scene to you. I’m in Wal-Mart with the twins, and I’m WAY BACK in the dairy section. I can hear the wailing and screaming of a child. This kid is GOING AT IT. The kid is probably in the produce section at the front, and I guarantee you as the screams grow LOUDER as the mom is bringing her kid to the back, I realize that it’s like this child is not taking a breath. It’s EAR PIERCING. When the mother finally makes it back to dairy I see her pat her son on the shoulder and say “it’s going to be OK baby I promise”. The boy is about two years old. What did I do? I went about my business and shopped! And THAT my friends is what this blog is about….MIND YOUR BUSINESS!
For those of you who don’t have kids, or those whose kids grew up or left home YEARS ago, let me introduce (or reintroduce you) into the life of having kids. You have a little bit of money in your account, and you realize that your cupboards could go for a restocking. You can’t start dinner first because it would be burnt by the time you got home, and if you stayed to cook it, you’d have to stay to eat it, and by the time you’ve finished telling little Johnny Joe and Grace Joyce that they need to stop playing and eat, it will be time to put them to bed. So, you put dinner on a brief hold, bundle them up, get their socks and shoes on get them out to the vehicle, then take their coats OFF so they can get into the car seats properly, then head to the store. You get TO the store, get them to put their coats back on for the walk from the parking lot to the store, you walk into the store and hope and pray that one of the carts specially made to hold children is available and you snatch it up. Then, you begin your shopping, which is a walk up and down EVERY aisle to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. All the while, your kids are asking for things, old people are taking 30 minutes to figure out what kind of pasta sauce they’ve been using for the past 20 years and deciding if it’s an appropriate choice, and you are dodging men with carts and a cell phone, obviously on the phone with his wife trying to determine if minced garlic is the same thing as crushed garlic. Then your 2 year old starts to scream. He’s not a bad kid, you understand. He’s a tired and hungry kid. Now you have a whole new set of problems. You have to try not to meet the stares of young couples who swear silently or under their breath that when THEY have a child their child will NEVER behave like that. You have to dodge well-meaning older people who are determined to stop and talk to your child to find out what’s wrong and “would he like a sucker?” All the while, in your mind, you are calculating if you can afford to buy your kid a quick snack to quite him or if you just ride it out, you certainly don’t want to stop shopping and come back and repeat this fiasco any time soon.
Here’s where we have the problem folks. Parents that DO try to parent their kids in public are often interfered with. It makes our job HARDER. The woman with the screaming child, definitely did not want to come to the store for the fun of it, she had shopping to do, which CLEARLY you do too. It’s not necessary to stop her and talk to her, or shoot her nasty glances, get on with your OWN business. I have been this woman. I really have. I have walked into Wal-Mart, and my kids IMMEDIATELY begin fighting because the kid-friendly carts are not available so we have to use a regular one. So who gets to ride in the front and who has to ride in the basket? One day it became such a fight that I made a decision. The child who was “demoted” to basket seating, threw a FIT. I was having NONE of that. I had a lot of shopping to do, and I was hungry. I made him stand facing a wall for several minutes until he could get his attitude together. People would walk by us and give me nasty looks and look at him like he’s to be pitied. You wouldn’t feel sorry for him if he was screaming all over the store would you? He’s throwing a fit about something CRAZY and it must stop, because I need my sanity and he needs his boundaries. So KEEP WALKING AND LET ME PARENT! I have had my kids in the store on several occasions when they are hungry. It’s never my intention, but it has happened that way. I USUALLY made the choice to not get them anything off the shelf and let them eat it in the store. Here’s why (not that it’s any of your business but I’ll tell you anyway). I have two reasons for this, the first is that I don’t always have the extra money on me. Sometimes I bring just enough money for what we need and THAT’S IT. So they have to learn that that is not always an option. The other reason is that my children have a habit of putting what they want into the cart. I don’t want them ALSO opening what they want and beginning to eat it ESPECIALLY in the event that I’m not prepared to pay for it. So what have I done? I’ve tried to comfort them, and on some occasions even brought along snacks, but if it comes down to it, they will just have to cry until I get them home. Believe me, they aren’t starving. Yet, I have had people look at me sideways, offer my children candy (as if I would allow my child to take candy from a random stranger….NOT!), even offer to take something off the shelf and explain to me that I can just buy it at the register, I have EVEN had someone try to guilt me into buying them what they wanted to which I replied: “I know that yeast and cinnamon don’t seem like a big deal here in the store, but what they don’t understand is that it makes cinnamon rolls which I’m making them when I get home. They can wait.” And in my mind I screamed “SO KEEP WALKING AND LET ME PARENT!”
There are some times when parents with kids would WELCOME your help, but you have to be able to pick up on the cues. If you can’t, then…..KEEP WALKING AND LET THEM PARENT! The first clue that someone might welcome your help is if you are seeing something they aren’t. On one particular occasion, when the twins were about a year old, we were at the store, and I happened to get this cart that just wouldn’t push right. So I basically pulled it all over the store. I was doing some pretty heavy shopping and the twins were completely happy playing with grocery items in the basket. So I’m pulling us around the store, and then I started feeling like I was going crazy. I remembered putting toilet paper in the cart, but then…there was no toilet paper. The same went for some vegetables, butter, and laundry soap. I am looking all over the cart, when a lady comes up behind me and says “I think your boys dropped something”. They had been dropping things that they didn’t want out of the cart the WHOLE TIME! So now I’m walking around the store picking up groceries off the floor that the twins have left like breadcrumbs. They thought it was HILARIOUS!
Another cue you might pick up, is a mother talking to her kid but more out loud to the world. When I hear a mom tell their kid “I would love to get you a sucker but I’m not buying suckers and I don’t see any out anywhere” I come up to her and whisper “there’s some at the bank in the front if you are interested”.
A final cue, is when they start nervously talking to you. I don’t mean a nervous “hi”, but like word vomit where they just can’t stop themselves…something like “oh my goodness this has been an awful day, I can’t find the peanut butter, the freezer section is out of pizza and my kid is screaming and won’t stop!” Yeah…that’s a parent at the end of their rope that could really use some assistance. Buy their groceries, find the peanut butter or WHATEVER do what you can.
If you don’t see any of these or more obvious cues KEEP WALKING AND LET THEM PARENT! Let parents do their job, stop thinking that you can console a child YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW, stop casting judgment under your breath, stop giving dirty looks, just MIND YOUR BUSINESS AND GET YOUR SHOPPING DONE! Do what you came there to do! Believe me, no one is pinching their kid before they walk through the door in the hopes that their kids will raise a fuss in the store. Everyone is just trying to get through…so…one more time….say it with me now…..KEEP WALKING AND LET THEM PARENT!