I am fortunate to do my grocery shopping without my children on many occasions, and the joke about that feeling like a trip to Tahiti are all true. All of them. I’m never actually there without children, though, because there are always other parents who are trying to get this done with kids in tow. Mostly, they are surrounded by a Someone Else’s Problem field and conduct their business pretty much unobserved by me, unless the cuteness of their kid comes into my field of view. Sometimes, though, I see some parenting I couldn’t ignore. Eventually, that kind of thing just builds up and you have to let it out. Offering up your unsolicited opinion on other people’s parenting seems to be a thing now, so I’m going to go ahead and join in.
There was the day I was in Target, blissfully ignoring some kid who was shrieking over near the cash registers while I looked at tops, and a young woman walked past me saying, “Someone Needs To Control Their Child,” and I blurted out, “Oh, you don’t have any children, do you?” and then sailed off to check out while she looked at me with her mouth open. Oops. Sorry, I thought we were playing Unsolicited Opinions and it seemed to be my turn.
When I got to the register, I saw the little boy who had been screaming. He was an adorable preschooler who showed some of the behaviors typical of a child with a verbal delay or sensory issues. He was helping his perfectly calm and attentive mother push the cart, very slowly, to the checkout line. He would get frustrated, scream, and then get back to pushing. Rock on, little dude. You’re a great helper. And rock on, Mom, for being unflappable. All the high fives for realizing that your kid is getting something positive out of this experience, and letting him do it when you probably still have four more stops to make before you get home and it MIGHT actually be nap time. I’m calling you out, Random Mom At Target, because your kid is wonderful and you’re wonderful.
Or the time when I was in the grocery store line and the woman behind me had her two kids with her. It was almost 6 pm on a week day, and they were picking up dinner ingredients. The children were explaining that she needed to make them macaroni and cheese and steak and potatoes and vegetables all tonight or they could never be happy again EVER MOMMY and just generally showing all the early warning signs of a Giant Embarrassing Public Meltdown. You know what that mom did? She told the checker to put all of it back but two things, and called her husband to get a pizza and meet her at home. I AM IN AWE, WOMAN. Total awe. Talk about proactive parenting- recognizing the signs, making an alternate plan, and putting it into action WHILE taking care of two tired, hungry children and completing a commercial transaction simultaneously? I’m calling you out. That’s grand master level parenting there. You made it look easy.
Last, but not least, there was the lady who was at the grocery store with me last night. Again, it was dinner time and her kid was crying. (So, here’s the thing, for those who don’t already know. This is what happens with kids around five or six PM. They’re exhausted and sometimes they have bad days too, and they are tired and they don’t know how to keep it together. So they cry. They do it wherever they are, because they’re kids. They’ll get over it. My personal experience is that they get over it faster, if other people don’t make a big deal out of it.) The poor little girl was obviously in full on meltdown mode. She wasn’t pitching a temper tantrum, she was just crying fit to bust and couldn’t get it together. And some man passed behind me and said, “Hey pretty girl. You look ugly now!”
In another instance of my mouth kicking in before my desire to be socially acceptable was able to engage, I half-shouted, “Whoa dude! NOT COOL!” but wasn’t able to figure out exactly which man had said it. That mom? Put herself between her daughter and the other people in the store, and removed her from the area. Physically interposing yourself between your kid and an adult bully? That is phenomenal, and brave, and sends exactly the right message- that the world has to get through you, before they can get to your daughter. That she may be losing it in a grocery store, but Mom’s got her back. Stranger At Safeway, you deserve a gold star. You’ve got this.
So there you are, moms. There’s my unsolicited judgement on your parenting. I’ve seen you looking around to see if I’m judging you when your kids have a rough time at the store. I’m out of the closet now. I’m totally judging you, because that’s what you get for going out in public with your kids. It’s open season on you all. Because that’s fair, or something.