So let’s talk about one of the times I lost the plot :). I’m out trying to do the shopping for that evening’s meal, I’m strung out on lack of sleep, I’d rather be anywhere than there. This is the perfect time for my toddler to wig out, right? Exactly what I needed!
So there I am, completely exacerbated after trying every trick in the book to get my kid just to sit in the trolley so that I can grab the shopping like an Olympic champion and get the hell out of there. He’s not playing ball – at all.
Next thing I know I’m standing in the corner of the shopping centre, screaming child at my feet, face red, eyes on fire. “Get in the naughty corner! YES, there’s a naughty corner EVERYWHERE! DO NOT MOVE”. I’m doing “Darth Vadar in drag”…I look mad as hell – no wonder everyone is staring!
Yes, this was not one of my finer moments…I remember getting home and texting my friend to warn her she might be seeing me on Today Tonight’s segment “Mums Gone Wild”.
In this particular instance, no one tried to intervene – I think they were a little scared. But how often do strangers take it upon themselves to ‘help’ you with your child when they are acting out?
It swings between the ones that are genuinely trying to help you, to the ones that just straight up give you the look of death with a very clear message that ‘you are a horrible, horrible person and you are doing a terrible, terrible job’, to the ones that just judge you with a tut of the tongue and a shake of the head that lets you know that you clearly have the most hideously undisciplined child in the universe. Before having kids I confess to being one of those judgmental shoppers walking around thinking “look at that child having a tantrum, there’s no way I’D put up with that.” Blah blah blah. Yep, we’re such brilliant parents until we actually have kids.
I’ve had people give my child lollies, balloons, even toy cars when they are having a tantrum about not getting what they want in the shop. Yep, that’s lovely that you want to help me stop them crying, but all you’re doing is making it ten times harder for me on my next grocery shop visit. It’s not rocket science – how do they honestly think that reinforcing the tantrum with a treat is going to make things easier for me?!
I’ve had people actually walk around to stand at the end of my shopping isle and simply stare down at me in judgement. Strangely it wasn’t the spit-flying naughty corner moment. This time I’d simply said in a loud, stern voice that “for the 16th time you are not getting a lolly pop because you are not sitting in the trolley like I asked you to”.
One time…just one time…a woman came up behind me at the checkout. I swear she had a glowing ring of light above her head. She promptly took the Peppa Pig DVD out of my son’s hand and said, “I’m sorry, but this DVD is not for sale” and put it back on the shelf. My son was stunned into silence and I was able to pay and get him into the car without another peep. I genuinely wish that I could have bundled this women up into my pocket so that I could bring her out to ‘coach’ all the ‘helpful’ shoppers in my future.
It really has been an eye opener though. This strange, unwritten rule that it’s suddenly ok for complete strangers to pass comment on your life, or intervene with ‘helpful’ advice, just because you have a child. It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve actually starting speaking up a little now. I’m non-confrontational by nature, so actually telling someone to pull their head in is something I’ve had to work very hard on! Ultimately though, I think you just need to learn to roll with it or ignore it, because it doesn’t look like changing anytime soon. Try not to take it to heart or to question your own instincts. Don’t be afraid to respectfully decline a stranger’s offer to treat your child. Turn around and go down a different isle if you have one of those judgmental ‘know-alls’ giving you the stink eye. And if you’re having a spit-flying naughty corner moment, just pick up your kid, get the hell out of there and get YOURSELF into ‘time out’ until the world stops spinning!
And just one more side note – Coles and Woolies do home delivery and are open til 9pm weeknights…I really, really need to start utilising these options as let’s face it, thinking we can shop with babies/toddlers in the first place really is bordering on insanity.