Today, I took a gamble. After the sleepless night we endured last night, it probably wasn’t the best idea. But, I desperately needed cat litter and K-Cups (yes, this was a necessity after being up with J for over 4 hours in the middle of the night last night) so I accepted the challenge and went to Target. With disheveled hair, no makeup, a questionable sticky substance on the front of my shirt, and a very sleepy, very grumpy toddler, I decided to brave it.
Luckily for me, J was an angel. With a few “weapons” of bribery on hand and several extra detours to push the elevator button for the millionth time, I was able to get the couple of things I needed PLUS a few extra indulgences! (this is TARGET we’re talking about, you can never leave with just the few things you came for) He was even pleasant to the other shoppers around him, offering bites of his banana and saying, “Hi!” to anyone who glanced his way. No one would ever have known that, for some unknown reason, he decided sleep was unnecessary the night before.
I couldn’t help but notice that another mom in the store was not so lucky. I’m pretty sure every person in the two-story Target noticed that she was not so fortunate. Her daughter was NOT happy, and I can only imagine that her mama wasn’t either. But, this mama stood her ground, finished checking out, and left with what I can only assume was elevated blood pressure, feelings of embarrassment, and the few necessities she came for, despite the risk involved.
As I approached the check-out lane closest to the exit, in the event that everything broke bad, I overheard the woman ringing up the girl in front of me talking about the little girl and her mother. I heard them discussing that “if that were their child” blah blah blah. All I was hearing was judgement. So, when it was our turn to check out, the very first thing she said to us was, “Look at this little guy, being so good!” While this would normally be a moment of pride for me, I couldn’t bring myself to acknowledge the compliment with anything more than a polite smile. I hadn’t even begun unloading the items from my cart, to include the half-eaten banana and the empty apple juice box (remember the weapons of bribery I mentioned?) She had no idea how lucky I felt that I got through this trip without any major tantrums. She didn’t have a clue that it was a 50/50 shot from the start. She then immediately began talking to me about the mom before me with her daughter and how terrible she was acting. She began sharing with me that when her kids were that age, they would never get away with that because she wouldn’t have stood for it. She was somehow implying that she and I had obviously done something right that the other mom had not.
I only had one thing to say to her. All I could muster was, “I don’t like to judge other people’s children, because I’m not their parent.” While this didn’t come out exactly the way I wanted it to, I think she was able to understand my point. She understood that I wasn’t going to discuss the situation and kick that mom when she was already down. I wasn’t going to go on about how I would’ve handled it differently. I wasn’t going to join this woman on her high horse.
What I wish I could say to the mom in target: I’m sorry that your gamble didn’t pay off this time, that your little girl was so unhappy, and most of all I’m sorry that other people are so quick to judge. I wish I could have given her the knowing smile of “Yup, I’ve been there!” and tell her I’m sure her daughter is a delightful little girl. As if having a screaming child isn’t hard enough, I’m sorry that you also have to worry about the dirty looks, sideways glances, and the bored, self-righteous woman who apparently doesn’t remember what parenting a toddler is like. I hope you went home, had a big cup of coffee and that your little girl took an extra long nap for you.
If the next time I am in Target J decides to have a meltdown, I hope someone else will tell the check out lady to step off her pedestal, smile and show love and understanding to that mom that took a risk that day and lost.