Last night I went to Walmart before I picked the kids up from Grandma's. I decided to haphazardly do the grocery shopping as I was recovering from my foul mood. I nonchalantly placed my cage free, no hormone eggs in the cart next to my high fructose corn syrup coated Halloween decorated fruit snacks. I walked through the store half caring what I was picking up and putting in my cart and half conscious when I saw something utterly disturbing. A toddler screaming in the grocery buggy and the "oh so kind" stranger coming over to the rescue. A scene I'm all too familiar with and one I absolutely cannot stand. Why do people do this? And because I often try to be on my best behavior, I refrain from speaking much. So I decided to write them a letter.
Dear Spooky Stranger Person Coming To Console My Crying Child In The Store,
I know you think you are doing the right thing and being all helpful, but you're not. You're making things worse. First of all, you're a stranger. My child doesn't know you. So while you're leaning in cooing what's the matter, you're likely giving him an anxiety attack and scaring him to death therefore making him scream louder. Please move away.
Oh and don't offer him candy. It's a nice gesture, but if I wanted him to have candy I'd give it to him. Needless to say, if he were sitting in the buggy chomping on a lollipop, you'd likely be ready to throw out some meaningful tip on cavities and protecting his teeth. No thank you.
And let's not forget those indirect questions that you ask my 2 year old that are directly geared to me. Are you sleepy, sweetheart? You want a snack, don't you?
Do you not suppose I would know these things? The child that would only nurse on the left side, prefers the Thomas the Train underwear over the Cars, and will only eat apples without the skin and sliced.
Or say you didn't notice the goldfish crumbs on the both of our shirts or the open box of fruit snacks in the buggy. He's not hungry and if he were sleepy, I wouldn't have bothered to come to the store. Please stop assuming these things.
I'm standing here smiling at you and nodding my head politely so I don't unleash the thoughts that are running wild in my head. The ones that are struggling to keep from coming out of this dangerous black whole called my mouth. It's hard. Very hard.
Maybe you should have walked over and made a joke out of it instead of making me feel like my gremlin child throwing a fit in a shopping cart is a reflection of my excellent parenting skills.
Maybe you should have told me about a time your little one went crazy to lighten mood.
Or maybe you should have just kept walking by understanding that toddlers generally have unavoidable moody meltdowns over things like "I want to run rampant though the store because brother and sister aren't strapped down," "My shoes really are green" and " the letter A IS a triangle."
Otherwise, you're just making the situation worse. You are prolonging the time and now becoming a catalyst in the fire. Please do me a favor and exit slowly.
Again I know you are only wanting to be helpful, but you're not. So please spare me and my child another dose of an anxiety attack from your unfamiliar face, or your potentially poisonous candy that you spent more time searching for in your bag than I do, or this unintended insult to my parenting skills. He can cry.
And yes, I could leave the store and avoid the scene, but who really has time for that. I mean I could come back in the 20 spare minutes that I might have after the never ending story of laundry, cooking and cleaning instead of this appointed time that I had chosen. However, by then you might witness me throwing a temper tantrum. So this is it. I'm not backing down.
So the next time you see me and my child has thrown the bag of rice across the back of the buggy and throwing a fit just look and walk away. Or better yet, come over and give me a high five because in spite of it all, there isn't an open bottle of wine in that shopping cart.
Your friendly but agitated shopping mama