To the woman awkwardly staring at me in the parking lot, it’s called a temper tantrum, and I am doing the best that I can!
One Friday afternoon, I ran to Trader Joe’s around 4:30 p.m. to grab frozen pizzas for dinner. We had a hectic day – it was nonstop, with two out of my three children going in separate directions. Dinner had to be quick and easy. We also needed milk and coffee, so this became an ‘essentials’ pick up trip! As I entered the grocery store, my two-year-old (as she always does) declared in a high-pitched voice that she would like a lollipop. I am truly thankful to Trader Joe’s for this option, it often helps me shop while she is distracted with a yummy treat.
After she picked out which specific color she wanted, she demanded to not be in the cart. This is an issue for me. The last time she got out, she promised she would stay by me but ended up running away. Thankfully some sweet mom (who obviously understood) cornered her so I could catch her! So, this trip she had to stay put. I told her she had to sit in the cart, cue the tantrum. First, the crying, then the constant repeating of her desires (“I want to walk, I want to walk!”), and lastly, the limp body that would not let me put her in the cart.
People were staring, but probably just curious as to why a small child was making such a loud noise.
I got to the point where I literally just couldn’t take it, nor think about what I needed to grab. I left. Even without my coffee! I thought it would make me feel better, but I was wrong. As my daughter continued to scream at the top of her lungs, and I breathed heavily to keep my calm, a woman walking across the parking lot just stared in my direction. To the point where I think it hurt her neck. As she rounded the opposite side of my car, she tried to look in, but my tinted windows did not allow for a view of my screaming child.
So many thoughts rushed to my head.
She was probably thinking that I was taking a child that wasn’t mine, or that I was hurting my child physically, or that I was neglectful. Even as she continued to pass my car and go to the carts, she stared looking towards my direction. She would walk a few steps and then stop and look. Over and over. I became more consumed with her and didn’t even hear my daughter crying anymore. It took all my might to not look over to her and say, “Can I help you?”
Looking at the situation fairly, she could have been a worried grandmother, a woman who did not have children or just a nervous individual. I get that, and I thank her for her concern. But her small act of worry made me feel like the worst mother on the face of the earth. I was trying my hardest to calm my toddler, but that just made her more worked up. She was also really angry because at that point I took the lollipop away!
I learned a valuable lesson here, one we can all benefit from! There are no amazing guidelines on how to deal with toddlers (a lot of fabulous books to read, but nothing can fully amount to reality), and we are all just doing the best we can. When I walk through the store, I don’t judge moms for what they are doing because what they are doing is what works best for them. So when a mom looks distressed, give her a warm smile and let her feel the love. She is doing the best she knows how to do!
And, in case you’re wondering, my daughter has recently turned it around in the grocery store! It was a good lesson for her too! Oh, and since I did get my coffee, my husband ran back to the store for me!