It’s about 14h00 on Saturday afternoon as my husband and I walk into the supermarket to get some much needed items. We see a mom with 3 kids as we enter the store. Looking at their size, I’m of the opinion that the kids could be all under the age of 5. With the youngest sitting in the trolley. The mom squats down to the level of the two older ones, indicating to them to behave. Her tone is calm and she looks relaxed.
Whilst in the shop, I spot the mom and her three kids again, this time in the toiletries aisle. The youngest is having a meltdown and the other two is acting out. Kicking each other, shouting and running about. Once again she gathers them and instructs them to behave.
This time she looks a bit flustered but still seems calm. Flustered because of the embarrassment she felt at that particular moment as people started staring and scrutinizing her ability to handle the situation.
As I walk pass, I give her a smile.
I have empathy for this mom as I know exactly what she’s going through. I’ve been there with my own kids when they were small. Thinking that I can master a quick trip to the supermarket with two small kids who are tired, cranky and just out of control.
Yes, I made the wrong call to take them with to the shop but I had no choice as I had no one to leave them with. Perhaps she too had no one to look after her kids and had to bring them along. I know all too well how people judge with their looks and thoughts – just control your kids. Before I became a mom, I was one of those people.
Then as we are standing in the line heading towards the till, I notice the mom at till number 5. This time she looked tired. Between unpacking the groceries from the trolley onto the till conveyor belt, realising that she forgot to add a few grocery items to the trolley, listening to what the cashier is saying, searching for her bank card in her purse and the whining of her kids; it all surpassed her ability to cope.
Overwhelmed by the stress of the current situation, she had enough. They tested her patience.
In a frustrated, stern and loud voice she reprimanded her kids: “Enough! I told you how many times to stop this behaviour. We will not go to the park”
Unaware that she is causing a scene, and that people are staring at her. She continues to unpack the groceries. Her kids were quiet.
“That’s not cool to speak to your kids like that” a voice comes from behind the line. It’s a young mom holding what I suspect a 6 month old baby. This young mom felt that it was her business to intervene.
Then the mom with the three kids turned around, looked at the young mom in disbelief and said in a sarcastic voice: “I think I know how to raise my kids; thank you very much”
An awkward atmosphere descended on the already long line. My husband turns to me and whispers: “If everyone just minded their own business the world would not be such a complicated place”
Here’s the thing…
- Don’t meddle, stay in your own lane and mind your own business.
- Think before you speak.
- Only give advice when asked for it.
- Belittling the mom in front of her kids and others are not cool. It just attracts attention to yourself and the situation.
- Don’t pass judgement as you don’t know that mom’s situation.
- Reprimanding her kids in a supermarket does not make her a bad mom.
- Even after setting clear expectations and consequences – they still didn’t listen.
- You don’t know the kids. Were they overstimulated, tired, do they have ADHD, are they autistic?
- Perhaps she’s a mom who normally has everything under control and this time her normal strategy failed.
Point is, we should stop judging and have more compassion. After all she’s just a mom trying her best to control a supermarket tantrum.
PS! To the young mom, I really hope that you will be able to handle the situation when your now 6 month old becomes a toddler and acts out in a supermarket.