That Thursday … It started off a wonderful day. It was my first full day off from school, and my first day home with the kids. It also happened to be my daughter’s birthday. We had plans to go to the local indoor trampoline park with some friends. The morning was great! The kids had fun and were relatively well behaved. After the trampoline fun, I had to run an errand at Old Navy to return some shorts (as an aside, why is their sizing so awful??). The kids were not in the mood to shop. They were tired and antsy, and we were all probably a little “hangry.” Plus, shopping with 2 kids while trying to carry a sleeping baby in a car seat is pretty much impossible. I was frazzled. After playing hide and seek in the clothes, the kids already got iPad privileges taken away.
It was time to check out. The line was impossibly slow. My girls just wanted the candy I kept saying no to. I must have said “No treats!” a gazillion times. And that’s when it happened. The lady in line behind me decided it was her business to discipline MY child. She stepped up to her and said something like, “Mind your mama or you are going to get in trouble!” She didn’t say it jokingly or overly nasty. But she was very stern. My 2 year old started crying immediately, and I shot the lady the look of death while trying to comfort my now hysterical toddler. The stranger didn’t make my situation better but worse.
So here I was, left to corral the newly-minted 5 year old, while carrying a crying 2 year old, along with carrying a baby in the car seat and the pair of shorts I thought I could just breeze in and out to get. I checked out as fast as possible and got my kids to the car. As I was strapping the 2 year old in, she hiccuped between cries, “That lady scared me, Mama.” And I am 100% sure fear was part of what she was feeling. But I am sure she was also feeling embarrassed or maybe ashamed.
After telling this story to a friend, she brought up the point that public actions invite public scrutiny. I understand that. I also understand the “village” mentality. But here is how I feel about that: Unless you personally know me; unless my kids know you; unless you are the employee in the store; unless my kids are somehow in danger or about to harm your child … Mind Your Own Business. You Do You. If I didn’t think I could deal with my kids in public, I wouldn’t have taken them out in public. Also, the quick trip to the store you see them acting out is just a glimpse into my long day. You don’t know anything about my life or children, so please keep all negative commentary to yourself.
Unless you are part of my village or willing to shoot me either a sympathetic glance or just say something as simple as, “You are doing a good job. You got this!” don’t say anything at all. I don’t expect my kids to listen to random strangers telling them what to do. I have enough doubts on a daily basis about my parenting skills that I don’t need the random lady in the store reminding me that I am half-assing this job most days.