We’ve all been there.
In the store, with a little one, melting on the floor, the floor you’ve hoped has been washed, melting right there with that loud toddler or preschool cry while the rest of the world pushes their carts with food nearby. It’s those parenting challenge times – where you’re forced to parent in front of the audience of your local store.
Yesterday, it was me.
We were in the store – just for a quick run for some cereal and bread and maybe strawberries if they were still on sale. Before we went in I talked to my six and four year old boys and told them what we were getting and that we were getting nothing more. Elijah, the four year old, was to hold my hand the entire time because he has this tendency to run off and check things out.
I knew I was in for a challenge when the sliding doors opened – when he jumped around and attempted to run and very loudly exclaimed – look at all the amazing stuff!
Patience. That’s what I kept telling myself. Patience. Love. But everything was so cool for him. The berries, the books, the fireworks display at the entrance, the cereal option, the cakes, the ice cream, balloons hanging, toys in the cereal aisle and more. He was doing awesome, really. Until that moment when he tried to dash from me to look at the gluten full cookies on display and proceeded to duck in front of me causing me to trip and him to stumble as he attempted to leave my hand.
He didn’t get to go.
And thus was irritated that he wasn’t going over to those cookies.
I tried to pick him up and then, right there in front of the 3 for $10 frozen pizza display, when he decided to sit down and let out a loud I want to look at the cookies wail. Yes, I’m working on being a yes mom, but in this instance, the answer was simply no. We can’t do gluten in the house and I set the expectations of the shopping trip in the car. I needed to stick with them. I knew people were walking around looking, but honestly, I’ve learned to not care.
Not care in the I’m just going to let my child cry way, but not care in letting the crying stress me out so it distracts me from my parenting.
And that’s what I’m writing to you about. Your child melting inside the store isn’t a reflection of your parenting skills. Now, I might be writing you something different if you react like that parent I wrote about weeks ago. You know, the one you yelled very loudly at her child in Target about being such a jerk. That’s different. That’s unacceptable – I don’t care what they’re doing you just don’t resort to calling your four year old names.
You see I didn’t yell. Instead I crouched down, looked little Elijah in the eyes, and reminded him of our conversation in the car. About how we were only getting bread, cereal, strawberries and now one package of snaps for the sidewalk for $1. He still didn’t like it. He was still just a wee bit loud.
Okay who am I kidding?
He was loud. The kid we all think thank goodness that’s not mine. Today.
This wasn’t about me looking like I had the perfect child, or me talking loudly and screaming at him to stop, this was about me stepping out of my comfort zone and recognizing that he needed me down at that level. And remembering, that if you’re a parent, and there were probably lots of parents wandering in the store, chances are they’ve gone through the same thing.
Different day, same scenario.
So I scooped him up, right by those pepperoni pizzas, and carried him while my Caleb picked up our basket of food. We went to pay, he wanted gum – another cry, but we still left with what we came in for and those $1 snaps.
I brought him to the car, buckled him up, and looked in his little face, that face that I love no matter what, and told him I loved him and that I was glad that he got to go with me to the store on that Wednesday morning. I told him about all the times in the store where he did great – in the cereal aisle when I had to say no to all those cereals, and by the strawberries, and the fireworks display when the question was asked about that $39 box of noise, and then we talked just for a bit about the cookie and why I had to say no.
He matters more than me looking good.
He deserves more.
Mothers, they will melt down in the store.
They simply will.
Shut out the world around you, focus on your child, and do your best.
We’re not here to judge. Not at all.
Mothering is hard.
It takes work, a thick skin, patience, and strong arms to carry little ones crying through a store. Sure there are the beautiful days, creative days, and wonderful days – but there are also an equal amount of the other. In fact, right now, as I type these words, my little Elijah, my precocious exploring child is sitting at the table, tapping a paintbrush full of black messy paint and splattering it on the table, and being quite content with who he is right now.
I’m an artist, momma.
Yep. An artist. In training. Who wanted a gluten full cookie.
Who I love no matter what.
That’s what I told myself while I knelt on the floor next to him in the store that morning.
My son had sensory integration issues at that age, so store trips were usually as you described. Normal and sane until we stepped through the doors. I wonder how many other kids are overstimulated by all the colors, sounds, and lights that rush at them inside of stores. You handled the situation well. I agree, I don’t like the moms who yell insults at their kids.
Wow, again a post so utterly relevant to me at this precise moment. An hour ago I took my little girl to school and she screamed all the way there. I’d set the expectations before we left (no riding in/on buggy as Mum can’t push you) encouraged her (let’s have a nice walk together, holding hands and see if we can guess where your teacher’s been on holiday) but no, she screamed all the way there. We got to school and I, like you, crouched down to talk to her and explained that the screaming wasn’t a good way of expressing herself and that I’d told her why she couldn’t have a ride……..anyway you get the picture. So so glad to read your post and realise that I did handle it correctly, and it happens to everyone. Thank you x
“He matters more to me than looking good.” such powerful words
Thank you for this encouragement. A beautiful reminder on how to love my babies better. Thick skin & patience… AMEN!
Thank you for the encouragement!
thank you so much for this today.
Again, you’ve spoken words of truth into my life right when I needed them the most. Thank you for your wisdom and encouragement!
I love this post. As a “been there done that” mom this is what I always tell new mommas. NEVER look around when your little one throws a temper fit (and at some point they all do) Focus on your child’s needs..it is NO ones business. I always notice how a mom handles the fit, good parenting is how YOU handle the fit, not that your child is throwing one. Great post!
As always, Rachel, perfect! With D, high functioning autism, there have been so very many of these times…more than I care to count. Many where the screaming was so bad I’ve had to leave my cart, apologize to someone on the way out, and go. Excellent post about what is and is not acceptable. I assure you, I know as well as anyone, IT IS HARD sometimes!
Well done! I recently watched a lady grab her approximately 9-10 year old daughter’s arm, pull her over to face her, then proceed to wag her finger in her daughter’s face, ranting and raving until she finally exclaimed, “Now we are going to have FUN!” Really? Because I’m pretty sure that at that point, that little girl would not be having any fun that day. She would remember being humiliated by her mother and seeds of bitterness just took root. I know I’ve had my bad moments like any mom, but it is my prayer that God will help me not to cross that line from angry or irritated to belitting my child to the point of driving a wedge between us. I love that you praised your son for the GOOD things he did, even in the midst of a meltdown.
So timely. Last night at my older daughter’s ball game, I had to put my 3 year old daughter in the van (which was right behind my chair) for time out because she had smacked her sister in the head for not playing babies with her. As soon as I shut the door and had enough time to walk away to my chair, she decided to push the panic button on the keys that I left sitting in there with her….right in the middle of the ball game. Yes, my 3 year old made my van honk loudly over and over while my daughter was playing ball. I had quite the looks. Thankfully, I don’t think I over reacted. It IS more about them. I appreciate your story!
It sounds like you handled this perfectly.
The tantrums will happen. A parent can’t control that. What we can control is our reaction to them.
Thanks for posting!
I really enjoyed this post. Thank you!
You are such an inspiration. Yes, every parent has those moments, there is no doubt. And it is how we react to them that makes the difference. You have just hit the part of parenting that I struggle with. Not necessarily the part about being in the store, but that never helps. It is the part when you have to stay really calm no matter what your kid is going through. It was actually easier when the meltdowns were just over emotions and though as three, it is still mostly emotion, it is over something real, something I can usually understand. I don’t yell at my daughter, often, but once in a while when I have said my final “no” and she is still yelling for no apparent reason that I have to stop and remind myself to be extra patient, that she is still learning. You are right that the child needs you to get down on their level to talk. I’ll have to remember that. Parenting is not always easy, strike that, parenting is rarely ever easy. But the important thing is that your kids know you love them, no matter what. Again I say, you are an inspiration, and a great mom. Thank you for sharing your story. There is always something to learn from others.
you ever think to give your kid a quick smack in the ass so he knows that he’s being a brat. maybe then he wouldn’t do it again. you could still ignore everyone and do your own thing.