So Sweet

Yesterday I was that mother at our local Walgreens. You know, the one with the screaming, wriggling child. Going out with Claire now requires a kind of judgment I’m not accustomed to using. I needed two things, and it was the end of the day; we were antsy, bored, and a little tired of each other. I didn’t use the cart or stroller, and I had her hold my hand. Until yesterday, she was a model citizen when it came to holding a parent’s hand in the store. However, in the “Valentine clearance aisle” she was thrilled by all the plush toys, and I allowed her free range to pet doggies! and bears! and other nondescript fuzzy things. This was well and good until I wanted to check out. She did not want to leave and refused to take my hand.

So I thought I’d give her a minute to wander a little with me next to her, but of course a child moves quickly. She managed to step in the path of a customer who had to pirouette to miss her. I’m sure he was vexed as I have been with other kids and their parents. So my first point of judgment is: When do you allow your child a little freedom in a store? How much of a right does she have to move about, and when does this freedom impinge on other shoppers?

Alas, my tactic didn’t really work. She wasn’t interested in taking my hand at all, so I picked her up. This resulted in loud protests of Down! Down! Down! as we waited in line. I tried gently shushing her, singing to her, pointing out things. There was a customer in front of me and several behind me. The customer’s transaction was taking time, but I was next in line. They opened another register over in cosmetics, and rather than wait I did as the cashier bid and left the line with my screaming child — only to arrive at the other register to see two other customers there. So our transaction took much longer than it would have had I just stayed put.

While I was being rung up with Claire howling in my arms, a customer entered the store, exclaimed “Wow!” and shot a dirty look at me. I joshed with the cashier about treating him to a concert and apologized, and he said no need to apologize. When we were done I put Claire down and took her hand to leave. She calmed down immediately. I’m sure there will come a day when a stern word about public behavior will be required, but she is at an age where she gets lost in her emotion, and she doesn’t understand the rationale for polite behavior yet anyway.

I’m going to need to get a thicker skin and hone my sense of humor for daily life in public.

But Claire is not all about tantrums, and she does understand politeness to a degree. If you say thank you to her, she’ll often say “Welcome!” She says thanks a lot of times. And when she comes up and demands, “Read!” she will nicely say “Please” if asked to. The other day I asked her her she wanted a snack and she said, “Yes, please.”

Claire also observes Mommy being busy; and most of the time when I leave her for a moment (e.g., in her high chair while I go into the kitchen to bet more food) I say, “I’ll be right back.” The other day she spent the morning running back and forth from the living room to the kitchen; each time she left the living room she’d say, “Busy, ri’ back!”

She also does other cute things, such as pick up a plush toy (like her bear) and hug it, saying, “So sweet! So sweet!” as she walks around. When she says something that sounds like “All done-o, all done-o,” she is requesting we sing the “Old MacDonald” song. And lately she has started to say, “Twinkle twinkle” and “in the sky” as her participation in singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

10 thoughts on “So Sweet

  1. donna

    We’ve all been there. I got to the point where I was simply glad the child wasn’t mine.

    When my youngest was two he liked to hear his voice echo, so Costco and Home Depot became squealing zones. Yeah, we got all those looks too. People can just get over themselves.

  2. marta

    Welcome to motherhood–otherwise known as the Judgment Zone.

    It is unfortunate that more people don’t appreciate that they are part of society and every society must socialize its young. What would they have us do? Chain the youngsters in a closet? What lovely adults they would turn out to be!

  3. Karen Maezen Miller

    No need to defend her cuteness to me, nor to delve into the question of politeness. She is simply manifesting the combustion of internal and external stimuli, as well she should! There are lots of places for children to be given freedoms, but candy and toy aisles, not even now, and it’s been many years since we had a one-year-old in tow. Trips to stores are like visits to the hell realm. Physical safety and mental health trump all.

  4. Angela, Australia

    More than once I have said to a parent that their child is VERY normal when they have had to cope with a situation similar to yours. I am just glad my children have grown out of this stage. They are just masters of pleading now! People who tut tut have no idea about toddlers and their needs, and how stores set out their stock. Shopping is not enjoyable at the best of times and with a toddler it is an obstacle course! And like me you always seem to chose the slowest aisle.

  5. Emy

    I suspect that the judgmental looks come mostly from people who either don’t have kids or don’t spend any time around them, and there’s really nothing you can do about that. Kids often go from happy to meltdown in the course of a couple of seconds, and you can’t spend your life dropping what you’re doing to keep the child from bothering anyone else.

  6. Christine

    I think this is the stage that I worked some of my shopping schedule around available babysitters. It is just a stage and it will pass. I would highly recommend a little bit of self care here and be sure to shop at least every so often by yourself. Your alone time can be savored and your little one can avoid a morning of overstimulation. Best of luck!

  7. lkd

    Bette Davis once said that old age ain’t for sissies.

    I agree.

    But I also thing that quote can be applied to motherhood.

    Motherhood ain’t for sissies.

    No, sir.

    I think that all of my friends who’ve brought children into this world are the most courageous people I know.

    You, my friend, are included.

    This isn’t even the terrible two’s yet, is it?

    Goodness gracious, but you’ve got a wilderness ahead of you.

    Yet, I know you’ll handle it with the same grace, good humor and relative ease that you’ve handled all your challenges up to now.

    You ain’t no sissy, missy. No, sir.

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