I have to go through it all over again: the stares, glares, and judgmental looks. It happened last week at Target when I was getting those monthly basics such as toilet paper, shampoo, and toothpaste. My youngest threw four enormous fits for all to see, hear, and appreciate. You’d think due to my veteran-mom-status, I’d be able to let those looks bounce right off me, but I really don’t handle getting them very well. I may look unaffected on the outside, but inside, well…
On our last shopping trip, I noticed that most of the people who found my child so irritating and my mothering so despicable were a tad older and had definitely been away from the early mothering years for a while. Maybe they had never been in the two-year-old trenches, ever. Still, this didn’t make their judgments any easier.
Their looks said, “Wow, your child is a brat. You need to be a better parent. Then none of this would happen. It is because of parents like you that our schools, our society, are falling apart. You are the reason I may not get my social security!”
And my non-verbal response, “Hey, the reason he’s throwing these fits is because I’m actually not letting him have his way! I’m actually parenting him, and I’m brave enough to tell him no in public, so there!”
See, I could make two parenting choices during this intense period of inevitable power struggles, my youngest son turned two in February, so I figure I have another 11 months or so to enjoy these rages. One option, I could choose to go nowhere. I could keep our child at home at all cost. But that would teach him nothing. And I would probably shrivel up and die from not getting enough social time. Option two: when we do go out I could let him have whatever he wants! I could have let him get all five stuffed toys that he swiped off the shelves, located for some reason, next to the toilet paper aisle. Thank you marketing experts! Or I could have let him run all around the store, not make him sit in the cart. Or why not let him have that pack of fish crackers, sugary treats shaped like helicopters, or cheap dollar bin items that caught his fancy at the check-out stand. If anyone should receive the glares of condemnation, it should be the management responsible for placing all these treasures at my son’s eye-level and of course, located in check-out when we are forced to wait in line behind other shoppers, giving my youngest lots of time to evaluate all the material pleasures.
No Good Samaritans emerged. No one let me go ahead of them in line. No one said, “Wow, you are an amazing mom. You have three young boys, you take them shopping, you teach them to resist impulse shopping, and you tell them no, swallowing a little pride while they flail on the floor in rage.”
Nope, no one said that. Instead they looked at me as if I was ruining their day. Actually their looks were eerily similar to the looks my sons give me when I don’t let them get what they want either. And their looks mirrored my own heart’s gut reaction to their evil-eye. Which led me to conclude that many adults aren’t much further along than my young son, they (me) are just better at reigning in the primal instincts and masking them a bit as indignation, irritation, and frustration.