I was reading a blog written by a young mother who was feeling frazzled and tired. She went to the store with her two year old, and he glommed onto a stuffed bear. She let him carry it around the store, planning to give it to the clerk when she checked out. The little boy dragged the bear on the floor, getting it dirty and causing the mom to have to purchase it. An older woman behind her began to berate her for her actions, and the poor mom was getting even more upset. Instead of lashing out, she merely smiled and said thank you. As she was going to her car, a gentleman pulled over and congratulated her on her patience and grace.
That little story got me thinking about all the times I was accosted in such a manner – usually in a store, but also on the beach, at a playground, and in a restaurant. Mind you, my kids really weren’t saints, but they were pretty well behaved. But when you hit that two-year-old mindset (or lack thereof), you’re dealing with a whole other alien being. Your placid little imp becomes the spawn of Satan when you enter a store, and there’s always an elderly lady there, shaking her head and tsk-tsk-ing away. I remember my oldest, unlatching the safety harness on the stroller, jumping out, and heading for the escalator, laughing hysterically at the escapade. An older woman watched the whole scene, and told me in her strictest way, “You should either leave that child at home, or be sure that safety belt works properly.” Of course I wanted to haul off and punch her, or at least tell her to mind her own business. Yet, I remember being so distraught that I merely looked at her, grabbed my errant sprite, and went home. Rarely did I ever respond to those old ladies who knew so much.
Now, as I go shopping (only on rare occasions when I don’t trust my other half,) I see kids running wild and mothers disregarding their behavior. At church on Christmas eve, I watched a family with a ‘tween who spent her entire Mass texting on her cell phone! Every time I encounter this, I just want to say something, and then I remind myself – now I’M that old lady (well, almost.) So far, I’ve held my tongue or just smiled sympathetically with the mother. My mind is thinking, “Why can’t parents take better care of their children?” until I remember how difficult it was when my kids were young. I was always grateful for the kind ladies who said, “Isn’t it hard with young children?” I immediately felt such gratitude, and I saw the contrast between them and the old grumps.
I hope I never become a grumpy old lady. I hope I can always hold my tongue. And I hope I always remember that it isn’t easy with little kids.