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.