I was in Spotlight yesterday morning to get bits and pieces. I missed my bus so thought I would wander on in.
Actually, I’m lying. The truth is I missed my bus BECAUSE I was in Spotlight.
Next thing I know, 42 minutes have passed and if I don’t kick it into high gear and get to the register, I will be missing a second bus home.
During my time there yesterday, the entire 42 minutes I have was there, somewhere in the store there was a young girl throwing a tantrum. She cried and yelled the entire time. It was the kind of yelling you could hear wherever you were in the store.
At first I felt sorry for the mother. Most parents have had the pleasure of dealing with a toddler and understand they aren't known for their ability to listen to reason. They just react and they don't care whether they have an audience or not.
I crossed paths with the mother and the *cough cough* darling child. The little girl was on the floor shrieking. Her mother tried to continue her shopping paying her no attention. Perhaps she had lost the gift of hearing with such a raucous going on in such close proximity to her. There was also a grandmother there too, and in my sympathetic moment I felt glad that the mother had another person there for moral support.
About 10 minutes passed and the tantrum had not let up even the tiniest bit. I could hear it clear as day from the other side of the store. My thoughts turned from sympathy to:
"Wow! That kid is STILL going! Isn't she tired out yet? I need that kind of energy. Just think of all the projects I could get done. Although it would cost a fortune, and it's already dangerous enough for my bank account that I am here in Spotlight for these few minutes.....damn it!! I think I have missed my bus. Oh well, will just get the next one in half an hour - yay, more browsing time."
As I moved on to another aisle, the screaming continued. Another woman in the same aisle shook her head and muttered something disapproving. Determined to at least appear non-judgemental, I just smiled back.
A little more time passed and I again crossed paths with the mother and her child (demon). This time she was lying on the floor being dragged as she clung to her mothers leg as her mother tried to go about her business. It was at this point that I began to really question her as a parent. I am embarrassed to admit that in that moment, a wave of superiority washed over me as I mentally patted myself on the back for never having had to drag my child across the floor in any shop as they screamed and cried. This lady obviously didn't know how to handle her child and needed to take control of this situation as it was ruining the sanctuary that is Spotlight.
Another shopper and I made eye contact and she rolled her eyes as a means of expressing her disapproval for the mother's handling of her child. I nodded in silent agreement and she said;
"My goodness, so much for shopping in peace!"
Now, I don't think that Spotlight promises peaceful shopping anywhere as part of their advertising campaign, but this woman clearly felt her shopping experience had been destroyed.
More than half an hour had passed by this point and with the tantrum still in full swing, I came to the conclusion that this mother clearly has no idea what she is doing and that her daughter must just be a spoilt brat who is used to getting her own way.
As luck would have it, as I joined the long queue up at the registers, the screamer and her mother joined the line behind me. What a treat for my ear drums that was! I could see the mother was actively ignoring the tantrum going on right next to her, and knowing this was her method of dealing with the situation, I looked down my nose and observed that this method clearly wasn't working and anyone with half a brain would have clued on to this and tried something else by now.
Now I try to be very honest in my blogs, partly because I want this to be a true record of my life, and partly because I want people to see me as someone who is very much human and flawed. I don't feel the need to have it all together at this point in my life because I'm not a finished product yet, I'm a work in progress. But yesterday, I was a judgemental jerk to a fellow mother (not out loud, but in my head) and I climbed up on my high horse and rode it proudly.
But how quickly I was knocked down.
As we waited in line, the little girl stopped crying and screaming and all that was left was a small whimper. I turned to see if the tantrum had stopped or if I had in fact gone deaf. What I saw made me ashamed of myself. The mother bent down and calmly said;
"Are you finished now? I hope you can see that behaving in that way will not get you what you want. Now let's finish up and head off home for lunch."
The little girl nodded and they quietly finished paying and left.
I realised here that this mother knew what she was doing. Her own sense of pride took a beating no doubt, but her priority was not the opinion of her fellow shoppers, it was training her daughter to learn the correct way to behave and that negative behaviour will not get you anywhere. She had obviously set a standard and she stuck to her guns.
It seemed like a lose/lose scenario as if she gave in when the tantrum kicked off, she would look like a push over parent who indulged her child. On the other hand, by not giving attention to her daughter's tantrum, she was seen as a parent who had zero control of her child.
It may be lose/lose now, but in the years to come I hope people pat her on the back for raising a child who isn't rude, entitled, and spoilt. I hope they can see the work she put in training her daughter well. It's the road less travelled these days, and generally the road less travelled is less travelled for a reason - it's damn hard!
I wish I actually told her how well I think she handled that teaching moment, but more so I'm grateful for the teaching moment for myself on not being so quick to judge.
This post originally appeared on 3 Men and a Little Lady.