The next time your child is pitching a fit in public, I want you to pull your eyes away from the action and look at the crowd–you know the one that’s watching. Look for the woman with the big grin, maybe a few chuckles. Maybe she’s even bent over, pointing, and howling through laughter-filled tears.
Yes, that’s me.
I know you just called me a bitch. It’s OK.
See, I can laugh because I’ve been there before. Sure, my kids are older now and very rarely pitch fits. The most stressful part of a store outing is the demand for PopTarts. These days I can solve that with a hissed threat.
But I used to be you.
Long ago, when the twins were younger, we went to the grocery store. I’m barreling through the store–because I absolutely, positively, detest grocery shopping. Then comes the back poke.
A little old lady is glaring at me. “They’re fighting! They’re hitting each other! You need to put a stop to this!”
After reassuring her that I will, I wait for her to turn the corner and then smack both twins upside the head–I could still reach their heads back then. After that, we shopped with them in front of the cart and avoided another repeat of the frozen food aisle hitting incident.
Fast forward a few years. Aaron has just come to live with us and we are shopping. (It now occurs to me that having family-wide shopping trips are a really really bad idea.) Here comes the back poke.
(I learned a lesson then. I respond to any back poke by swinging around with my elbow out and lifted, prepared to catch anyone standing too close in the sternum.)
It’s an old lady (is this the next step for me?!). She clasps her purse in front of her stomach and doesn’t take her glaring gaze away from Aaron.
“He. Hit. Me.” Her lips curl as she snarled the words, her gaze still locked on the shopping cart encased toddler.
“Oh!” I laugh and begin to reassure her, “I’m sure he was just saying hi!”
“No,” she shook her head and whispered dramatically, “he meant it.” Still, her glaring eyes are locked on Aaron’s cherubic face, as if she’s afraid that looking away will cause him to sense her fear, sending him from the cart and latching on to her bared throat with his werewolf teeth.
Jim and I looked from the irate lady to Aaron, dumbfounded. He had no verbal skills. He had previously lived with an old lady who was rather neglectful. Maybe he did hate little old ladies.
So, as you can see, I have been there. Done that. I feel your pain. But it also amuses the hell out of me that someone else is experiencing the same damn thing.
Trust me, the day will come when you’re sitting in a restaurant with a screaming child at the next table, you will look at your almost-behaved kids, and you will grin. Then will come the laughter–some of it hysterical–when you realize you have left that stage behind!