Friday, May 13, 2011

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The Peanut has a birthday party to go to this afternoon and in true where did the week go fashion, we were standing in our local, totally awesome variety store trying to pick out a gift this morning between mama's workout and lunch. Was I pushing it? A little bit. Did I have much of a choice? Not really.

Unfortunately, I was stroller-less having swapped the single stroller to the hubby's car last week. As a result, I was attempting to wrangle a very curious 18 month old while also trying to focus a four year old into selecting a gift for his friend. Pumpkin became more and more touchy feely and thought it was a fun game to run down one aisle to hide in another. I had to pick him up.

Cue the screaming and the screeching!

Pumpkin has found his voice and when he's angry, it's typically on loud. The good news: he's developmentally right on schedule with his tantrums. I tried my best to distract him, to shush him, to rush his brother along. But the screaming, the flailing. Oh, it was all just so public.

I placed him on the floor, occupied by a display of pinwheels so I could sign my receipt. He quickly found the candy display and began relieving it of roll after roll of bottle cap. I quickly scooped him back up as Peanut put the candy back and the screaming recommenced. Two older ladies were looking at cards between the register and the door giving shocked and awed looks at this screaming child. One muttered, "Oh, he's hungry." I responded, "Nope, he's just 18 months old." And we left.

But as I left, I realized I was in a lose-lose situation. Let the child free to do what he wants and I would have been the bad mommy who can't handle her children. Keep the child from destroying the store and I was that mommy with the screaming child disrupting every one else's shopping experience.

I try to be conscientious when I take my children out in public. I provide snacks, distractions, whatever I can do to keep them engaged with the task at hand and have perfected the art of a full week's grocery shop to a slim 30 to 45 minutes (depending on the speed of the cashier). If I'm doing all that I can to make sure everyone else isn't having to endure my sometimes cranky children, I wish all those ladies would give me the benefit of the doubt. Instead of "Oh, he's hungry," maybe a sympathetic, "We've all been there," would have been more appropriate. I would have settled for "Can I get the door for you?" while I juggled a squirming 18 month old, a diaper bag, a gift and a four year old's hand.

I, in no way, think that bad behavior by children should be tolerated in public. But when you see a mother doing the best she can do, maybe cut her a little slack. After all, her ride home and lunch preparation time will be filled by the same screaming that you endured for maybe 2 minutes. Trust me, that's punishment and self-flagellating judgement enough without your dirty looks to add to her bad morning.

Okay, rant over. Off to find something to wrap this gift with since I left before buying any.


~Ray said...

I'm so glad we're here together, mama. Myles has realized that he is his mother's child after all, and decided to assert his independence this week too. LOTS and LOTS of screaming. And tantrums. But as I recall, these days are short-lived until they realize that the world does not revolve around their demands. In the meantime, pour another glass of wine... ;)

Missy said...

I've been there, and it was just with one child. She decided to take the Cozy Coupe in that same local variety store for a spin through the aisles. While I decided on a gift for a birthday party. Not only did she crash into a puppet theater, but then proceeded to scream and thrash as I removed her from the Cozy Coupe!
Believe me I got many looks!