Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Public Parent Embarassment

Well, it happened. J's first public melt down. Until last weekend, he had always been a cooperative, happy shopping companion. And I totally took that for granted.

The instance in question occurred last weekend during a routine shopping trip. The day started poorly. At 5.a.m, I might add. J was in a mood. Not his normal self, to be sure. He was grouchy, whiny and just plain foul at points. Before 8am, he had served two times outs accompanied by tantrums.  I will admit, I probably should have abandonded the idea of grocery shopping given how the day started. But, my time is limited due to work and I just didn't know when else I would get it done. So, I forged ahead.

The trip to the store and shopping went well until the point that we checked out.  I had the groceries loaded onto the checkout counter and that is when it happened.  J spotted a Hot Wheels car that he absolutely must have. He asked if he could have it and I told him "no."  As I explained to him that his behavior so far that day had not been good enough for him to deserve a toy from the store, the pouty lip popped out and the tears welled up in his big brown eyes.  I knew what was coming. I felt like I was witnessing a car wreck. I could see it happening, but could do nothing to prevent it.

J started to scream. An ear piercing "I WANT THE CAR!" wail that he repeated over and over. My own mantra for him was "I said no, and this is why. When does a fit get you what you want? Never." I will admit that I was probably repeating my mantra a little too loudly. Mostly for the benefit of the passers by who I am sure thought some sort of abuse was occurring due to the volume of J's wailing. 

Then it happened. As if it wasn't bad enough to be weathering my first public melt down, the cashier decided she would "help" me. She looked at J and said, "honey, if you stop crying, your mommy might buy you that toy."  Um, what? I couldn't believe it! Had she really just said that? No, I must be mistaken. But then , sure enough, she said it again. I told her that I didn't intend to buy the toy, especially now that J was pitching a fit. She said "Well, I said you MIGHT buy the toy for him." Oh, sure, because an inconsolable 3 year old really heard the MIGHT in that statement!  As patiently as I could, I explained that I didn't believe in rewarding a tantrum with a toy.  I thought that would put the issue to rest.

Oh, how wrong I was. J stopped crying so twice more this cashier said to J "See how good you are being? I am almost done and your mommy is going to buy that toy for you!" Then she gives me a conspiritorial smile and says "I have four kids." I think I was too dumbfounded to speak. Which is good because all I could think of was a sarcastic "yeah, and I bet they're awesome!" I turned away so as not to loose it and finally the cashier announced my total as well as "All done! Now, should I ring up that toy mom?"  I again said no and I didn't appreciate being put on the spot that way. To which she replied "Geez, if I had a dollar, I would just buy it FOR him."  Yeah, because that was the point, lady! 

There are two things of note that came from this experience.  1.) I have way more self control that I ever imagined.  I kept my cool with the 3 year old whose head was spinning around like the girl from the Exorcist AND I managed not to flip out on the cashier. It was ah-may-zing on my part, I think. And 2.) No one should intervene when you are dealing with your kids. (With the exception of someone who is being abusive, of course). I have personally never done this to another parent and never will.  I was embarassed by the tantrum, but became mortified by this woman who essentially accused me of not handling the situation right.  How about a little support instead of ridicule? How about a  supportive "your mommy is right, crying never gets you anything buddy!" Would that have been so hard? I was standing my ground. I was not being mean or abusive to him. He was not hurt in some way, he was being a stinker. And I was NOT going to be the parent that says no and then sheepishly gives in and buys the toy. This is why: because if I give in once, J will learn that having a hissy fit gets him his way. And it doesn't. Ever. Did I want him stop crying? Yes! More than anything! But I really believe that if I had given in, it would have been the beginning of the end.

So there it is. My first public tantrum situation.  And I survived it! Barely! So for all the moms reading this, hopefully you will feel better about your own embarassing moments. You are not alone. I am now in your ranks and will never take my usually good natured, happy boy for granted.


  1. It would have been the beginning of the end, had you given in. Charlotte did this same thing the other day over goldfish crackers. Thankfully, we had a sweet, old gentleman behind us to made faces at her ... instead of a cashier who was nothing short of horrid.

    1. Thanks Kate! I think we are on the right track even without the unsolicited "help". My proof: J and I shopped yesterday and he was angelic!