Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

Yesterday I had one of those crazy, when the hell did it get to be 4:30pm kinda days. We had swim lessons, followed by trying to get Lana and Georgia to nap for at least an hour before I had to take Sonya to gymnastics at 2:15. Then I decided we needed to go to Target after gymnastics because we were out of cereal and milk. So, it was really no surprise when one of the girls decided to throw a full blown temper tantrum in Target. Who was it this time? The one headed into the terrible two's. Miss Georgia girl.

When we walked into the store, I had Georgia sitting in the front of the shopping cart, Lana in the back and Sonya walking. After about ten minutes Lana wanted out, which meant Georgia wanted out too. I let them both get out and walk. Lana is good about staying with me and doing what I say, but Georgia is still new to having any walking freedom. Consequently, she tends to wander. Far. Since I'm fond of still having her around (most of the time) and not being kidnapped, I was constantly running after her to bring her back to the shopping cart. This isn't very conducive to getting shopping done in a timely manner. After about the third time she ran off, I gave her the count of three to which she, of course, didn't return. So, I scooped her up and plopped her back in the shopping cart, while she kicked and screamed, thus starting THE TANTRUM.

My, can THAT one scream. And I mean hair raising, ear piercing, horror movie, I was trying to murder her, kind of screams. Sonya and Lana tend to yell more than scream. Georgia may have an acting job in Friday The Thirteenth part 25 someday.

So there we were walking around Target. Sonya and Lana walked along side the shopping cart acting perfect, and Georgia screamed and thrashed her body about in the front seat. This was all because I had the nerve to put her in there and strap her down, when all she wanted was to run around. Horrible mommy that I am.

I've dealt with the other two having meltdowns in Target, so you would think I would be used to it, but you never really get used to having that kind of attention. Believe me. I am someone who likes getting attention, which is part of the reason why I wanted to be an actress. Getting attention because you have a screaming two year old, however, is not the fun kind of attention. The stares that you get from EVERYONE you pass makes you feel more and more judged. I just felt like I was in one of those Southwest, "Wanna get away?", commercials. To which I say-yes, please!

After what seemed like three hours, but was probably about five minutes, I found an unoccupied aisle to walk down and stop. There I tried to talk Georgia down from the crying and screaming. At first she was having none of me, but I continued to talk calmly to her and try my best to distract her with whatever I had in my backpack. Almonds, crayons, diaper rash cream, whatever. There was nothing I could do really, short of pick her up, grab her sisters and leave the store and my cart full of groceries behind. I never want to do that though. I mean I spent 40 minutes shopping already and damn it, we needed milk!

Slowly, though, she started to calm down and munch on some almonds. Thank goodness Sonya and Lana were continuing their good behavior. They sat between boxes of coffee machines and blenders while waiting patiently for me to bring Georgia back to sweetness and light. It seems that when one of them flips off the page like that, the other two instinctially know not to go there too, or Mommy will flip off the page herself.

I started to walk out of my private aisle as another woman was turning into it. She was probably in her late 40's or so, and she stopped and looked at me and said,

"You are such a GOOD mother."

I was completely taken aback and quickly stammered out an, "Oh-thank you."

She had apparently caught part of our act, including me calming GG down, and she continued to compliment me. She told me how patient I was and what good job I did. She mentioned that she had two kids herself, who were older now, but she remembered when they would do the very same thing, just about every time she went shopping with them. She said how frustrated it would make her feel. I mentioned how I mostly just try to get through the store, and keep in mind I would probably never see any of those people with the judging faces again. Then she said,

"People are going to judge you if you don't discipline them and when you do. You did the right thing and a great job, so don't you even worry about anyone else."

I thanked her again, more heartfelt this time, and we parted ways. After I walked away I was near tears. I'm not sure why. I was just overcome with emotion over what she had said to me. I mean it's great when someone tells you what a great job you're doing with your kids, but when a complete stranger tells you, it makes it all that more real. She had no investment in me or my kids, but it was probably one of the nicest things anyone has ever said or done for me. It made me feel so much better about what I do and how I do it.

So as a way for me to "pay this forward", I wanted to tell all of you, weather you are moms or not, that when you see a mom somewhere dealing with a cranky kid and you do think she's doing a good job, tell her. You have NO idea how much your simple words will make her whole day.


Megan said...

that made me cry. I think I will be sweeter and more patient to my flipping out, ear piercing screamer, almost 2 year old next time she flips out in target in the hopes someone compliments me. you inspire me sis!

Kristi said...

Awww, thanks Meg. The only reason I had so much patients was because I was in Target. I mean I don't want to beat my children in PUBLIC. That's just wrong!