We’re taking a break from our standard blogging because the mamas we serve (and all mamas really) will appreciate this advice. Before you let your emotions run away with your keyboard in the comments below, hear us out. And let’s keep in mind that this advice applies to a specific age group and in a specific location.
My nephew is the most adorable three-year-old ever. He has the cutest smile which is most visible when he is playing with his toy cars. All his relatives are equally guilty in feeding his toy car addiction. He knows that going to Walmart with any relative is likely to result in a new addition to his collection.
He has recently begun the detox process by learning that a trip to Walmart doesn’t automatically result in a new car. Let me tell you, the withdrawals are real. The meltdown that followed a gentle parental “not today buddy” deserved an Oscar nomination. Any director would have been thrilled with the amount of tears produced on demand. The meltdown included a bright red face, crumbling to ground, and a four-hour hunger strike. That’s dedication to your craft. Fortunately, we were already done with our shopping, so in the midst of tears we got in line, paid, and left.
A few days later I visited the same Walmart, this time alone. After getting some necessities, I got in line to leave. The checker and woman in front of me were commenting on a child that had been taken out of the store by his parents a few minutes earlier. I didn’t pay attention or particularly care about their conversation. As it becomes my turn to pay, I ask the checker how she was doing.
“Fine” she replied, “as long as I don’t have to hear those kids screaming.”
Now, I agree, screaming children do not produce melodious tones. They may even sound unpleasant at times. However, as a representative of her employer, this checker’s comments struck me as completely inappropriate. Especially as she was commenting on one customer to another. And she did, after all, choose to work at her current establishment. If it was a quieter environment in which she sought to work, I’m not sure she chose well.
“Well, people still need to get groceries” I replied in an attempt to appeal to her more sympathetic side.
“Well kids need to be disciplined!” she angrily responded.
“Sure, but that doesn’t eliminate peoples need for groceries” I concluded.
After shoving my last item in a bag, she silently handed me my change and turned to the next customer. I wondered what would be said about me as I walked out of the store.
On a basic level, I actually agree with this checker. Kids do need to be disciplined, and I admire the effort it takes to raise kids well. I admire the restraint it takes to look into my nephew’s adorable eyes and tell him “No.” I admire the parents who left that day, at whatever point in their shopping trip, with a screaming child. I don’t want to live in a world where adults cannot handle disappointment because they never experienced it as a child. I am invested in you raising your child well because it will affect me later on. And I believe that you are the best person to raise your child. I believe that you are making the best decision for your child even if it results in my temporary discomfort. Please continue doing what is best for your child.
So here is my advice – never, ever give in to the toy, candy, treat, etc. tantrum that follows a “no” for MY sake. Sure, we fellow shoppers would prefer a peaceful shopping environment, but it’s not a spa. I don’t spend my time relaxing between household cleaners and birthday cards. I (along with most of my fellow shoppers) understand that hearing “no” can be difficult for a three-year-old, or maybe it’s just too close to nap time. We also know that the toilet paper fairy does not make regular stops at your home (if she does can you send her my way?) so if you don’t get your groceries you’ll have to go without. How would you make dinner then?
So if you have a screaming child in your cart (or otherwise attached to you) please just continue with your shopping. After you’ve disciplined them according to your convictions, they’ll either realize their tantrum isn’t getting them anywhere or they’ll just get tired. Either way, it will come to an end. As an added lesson, by remaining steadfast in your decision, you’re modeling that there are more important things than a passerby’s opinion of you. Another topic for another day, but an important one none the less.
So what do you do if the tantrum happens somewhere else? Say in church or a restaurant? Being childless (for now) I have no idea. But for those of you who do have children, please share!
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