I don’t know if it’s just my kids, these ages they’re in, stages of development, the sun and moon in terrible alignment, or something else altogether, but I would rather have a root canal than take my children into a store. Any store.
Mostly, Emma has a serious case of Ants In Her Pants and she wants to talk and talk and grab and hold everything she sees. She’s nearly three. While I have no recollection of Joshua being this way, I was also in the throes of very, very new second motherhood and rarely ventured out of the house with both of them. I have one distinct memory of shlepping them both to two separate Target stores in search of a Rock-N-Play for Emma and Joshua having an epic meltdown which resulted in me practically dragging him out of the store while Emma screamcried from inside the Moby but I’ve slept since then. A little bit. The details are fuzzy.
The details of today’s excursion are not.
Today I was openly and publicly judged for my children’s misbehavior and I’ve got to say that it was definitely a shitty experience.
A very energetic almost three-year-old and her six-year-old brother are taken into a Dollar Tree, bastion of classy shopping. While inside, said three-year-old has a very, very hard time not looking at all the things and wandering away to do so, despite being asked and told to stay with her mother. Mother holds daughter’s hand tightly, until it’s time to pay for the three items on the conveyor belt which must be purchased for big brother’s class Easter egg hunt tomorrow morning. Mother regrets not putting toddler into a cart, but she was only stopping in for THREE THINGS.
Then all Hell breaks loose as the toddler AND the big brother begin running a marathon around the store while the mother is trying to pay as quickly as possible so she can corral her children and GTFO. A worker at said store shouts across four aisles, “STOP RUNNING BEFORE YOU FALL AND GET HURT!” and a lady two behind the mother in line says “those your kids?” with that “Mmm-mmm” in her voice that says no children of hers would ever be caught acting like that and then she clucks her tongue as the mother grabs her bags off the checkout stand and begins darting in and out of aisles to find her children in order to march their giggling, energetic behinds to the car.
In case you thought this was some sort of hypothetical situation, let me clear up the confusion. This mother, toddler, and big brother are me, Emma, and Joshua, and this is a totally true story.
A totally true, incredibly humiliating story.
First, I was humiliated by their behavior. I don’t know why they act like heathens whenever I take them in public, but I’d say the two of them conspiring not to listen to me happens regularly and I’m regularly driven mad by it. But I can’t stop running errands and it’s not always possible to run them without children and/or with only one child, so sometimes they both have to go. It’s just…life. Life doesn’t stop because things get inconvenient. I actually cannot order everything on Amazon so as to avoid ever having to take my children in public again and not taking them in public doesn’t actually teach them how to behave in public. It’s a chicken-egg predicament I’m in.
Secondly, I was humiliated by the woman who deemed it her place to openly and publicly judge and shame me for not being able to control my children.
What was I supposed to do? Hold up the line while I chased them down, further angering the people in line behind me for making them wait? Retrieve the kids and then stand there, mortified, while I paid and Emma fought to get down again, throwing a Threenager Tantrum at the checkout?
Which situation would have made that lady feel better? Probably neither.
There was no way I was winning in any scenario other than having perfect, quiet, well-mannered children who listen to everything I say like tiny automatons and never step even a hair out of line. HAHAHAHAH. Those are…not my kids.
When we finally got to the car after doing our march of shame out of the store, I screamed and yelled and shouted and I wasn’t proud of the mother I was as my children began to cry. I was scaring them. I was parenting out of a place of embarrassment and not love.
Hell, I wasn’t actually parenting at all. I was just being angry at my kids who cannot just listen when I ask them to do something simple and angry at myself for dragging them to the store after school. But mostly I was angry at that woman who deemed it her place to say something to me about my children who were acting up in public LIKE I DIDN’T ALREADY KNOW THEY WERE ACTING UP.
OF COURSE I KNEW.
I knew and I had been embarrassed by it longer than she had been aware we were even there.
So thanks for the judgment, lady. That’s just what my Tuesday afternoon was missing.
Thursday 16th of April 2015
You need to have control of your kids when you go out in public. Period. No one should have to shop (or work) with your kids running around like maniacs because you cannot control them. You are too much like every other parent out there, and that is half the reason why this world is the way it is. If you can't manage your kids, get a babysitter, go out when your husband is home, find a neighbor to watch them, etc. Kids will get away with what you let them get away with. Its not their fault. Its yours.
Thursday 16th of April 2015
Hey, so, thanks for stopping by to heap on a little more judgment. Obviously, I've realized I should have gotten a shopping cart for the toddler, but at some point, moms get judged for having kids in carts whom others deem "too old" to be there. She has to learn to walk. She can't learn to walk without being given an opportunity to try. We tried. She was terrible at it. We'll try again in a month.
I'm willing to bet you have no children of your own yet and/or have children who now have children of your own and you can no longer remember what it was like to have small children. If you actually read, you know that I wasn't ambling around the store browsing through the vast supply of $1 fare, but the next time I'm in your store, how about being a neighbor, okay?
Saturday 4th of April 2015
I was such a good mom before I was a mom. The things I thought in my head about "those" kids haunt me now. We all have days like that. Even that lady behind you. Don't let her ruin your day.
The Many Thoughts of a Reader
Friday 3rd of April 2015
They are kids. Not adults. As long as they don't call people assholes to their face, all's good. ;)
Wednesday 1st of April 2015
Oh, this sucks. Just know that you are not the first mother to ever have her children not listen to her and run all over the place. There's a reason we stopped going to library story times altogether and didn't even visit the library again until my twins were 5. Even then it was a whirlwind. Now that they are 7 and the youngest is 5, I finally feel like I can breathe again and not dread taking them anywhere.
Her comment says more about her than it does you. We're all just doing our best.
John (Daddy Runs a Lot)
Wednesday 1st of April 2015
Kids are assholes. Absolute assholes. Judy Judgerson's kids acted that same way, when they were your kids' age. All kids do. It's what kids do.
I have the advantage of being over 6-feet tall, and male, so people generally aren't AS blatant about judging me when they do (though I'm certain that "oh, what would their mother think?" or "where is their mother?" is a prevalent thought whenever my kids and I head out in public together . . . it's just that, well, people seem hesitant to actually say anything when my kids are actively misbehaving, and just eye-roll. A lot).
It makes me cringe when someone says "oh, you have your hands full." Except when I'm actively carrying both children, and their backpacks, and/or whatever they need me to be carrying . . . because, during that situation? My hands are, literally, full.
Anyway - serious question, because fuck if I know the answer. When someone's kids are being absolute hellions in a public place and I, as a parent, but without my children there, am present - do I offer to help? Do I ignore? Do I just chuckle, knowing that, tomorrow, I'll be in that parent's shoes?
Wednesday 1st of April 2015
The "you have your hands full" comment makes me nuts. Sometimes I get ahead of their quasi-insulting game by saying "these kids! They're total handfuls!" Laughing about it before they can helps. I still cringe when they say it though.
I think the best thing we can do when we're in a position to help and we see another parent struggling is just to acknowledge the struggle. A "hey, we've all been there" goes a long way, you know? I actually love to help moms laugh or smile at them and let them know I get it. That woman yesterday didn't seem to get that at all.