We’ve all been there, you’ve managed to bribe the other half with sexual favours or guilt tripped your mother and managed to get to the supermarket without having to buy your toddler two (stupidly overpriced) Peppa pig toys and half of a family sized dairy milk to make it round the joint with minimal amounts of melt downs. Your blissful food shop is going well. Two isles down and the only person you’ve bribed with E numbers is yourself…
What the actual fuck is that noise? seriously?
Which inconsiderate arse hole has ruined the only whole hour of child free browsing you have had in three months? (weirdly it’s also three months since you last put out… interesting!) Why does that woman with the screaming toddler hate you so much? urgh! make it shut up!
*rolls eyes and scowls at woman and horrible spoilt snotty nosed toddler and power walks to the nearest quiet zone*
We’ve all done it, as a mother myself I have done it. I have made an already struggling mother feel more embarrassed, cry for a few seconds longer in her car after wrestling an angry toddler into his car seat, judged another woman for something that is me 90% of the time when I would rather suffer the torture of dragging an over-tired toddler around a supermarket, than shave my bits and pits in order to get the other half to watch him.
I will never forget the day I took Thomas shopping and he had refused to get in the trolley, you know that arched back, stiffened legs, turning slightly purple kind of refusal. I had of course given in I mean he would have sent a whole shower of shit my way if I had forced the little sod in there. All was going well, he had accepted a banana instead of a kinder egg and was walking nicely beside me. Then it happened. He saw a massive pyramid of Tractor Tom DVD’s and ran slow motion, Hollywood style towards it, closely followed by me who had abandoned my trolley the second I had caught a glimpse of the display out of the corner of my eye and foreseen the inevitable. I caught the slippery little sucker just as he reached for a DVD from the shelf and after feeling already defeated after loosing the trolley seat battle I was determined that he absolutely would not be having another DVD.
This was done for a mixture of reasons, he would have to learn that he could not always have what he wanted, he needed to realise that tantrums get you nowhere and also, I absolutely could not stand another two hour back-to-back Tractor Tom-athon.
Thomas has always been a particularly strong willed kinda kid and in true Thomas style I ended up sat on the floor while he screamed blue murder, really screamed. Several people tried to “help” all well intentioned obviously thinking they had a trick or two up there sleeves that I hadn’t considered. Thomas was offered sweets, juice, a sing song and a magazine from total strangers in the twenty minutes (that felt like ten hours) we were sat on that floor just to get him to shut the hell up. I appreciated peoples intentions, I mean they obviously just valued there ear drums more than the couple of quid they thought it would take to make him quiet. What people didn’t consider is that I could have just bought him the £3 DVD if that’s what I had wanted.
I got stared at, peoples eyes felt like superman style lasers burning into my already flushed skin, I was so embarrassed. People walked by making comments about how cruel it was that I didn’t just get the DVD, how inconsiderate I was towards all the other shoppers, how I should have just left him at home. You know the kind of comments said to another person about you, but said a little louder than normal to ensure you hear them? yeah those cowardly curtain twitching types.
Peoples stares turned to tuts and sighs when the little shit got up at lightening speed and with a swipe of the right arm sent a whole bottom layer of the pyramid skidding across the tiled floor. It was quite impressive really in a ‘you will look back and laugh one day’ kind of way. The customer services lady was lovely, she came and helped me tidy them up, pulled Thomas’s legs through the holes in the trolley for me when he was kicking me with his weirdly long legs and told me not too worry, she saw it a hundred times a day. If only everyone else was so nice.
I left the supermarket that day with my eyes not looking up from the floor, head down, sweat dripping from my forehead and a really heavy heart. I felt like a failure. Why was it always us, why could my child just not behave. People had judged me and my son based on one incident, god knows what they would have thought if they’d witnessed the rest of our lives.
I sat and cried while Thomas sat in the backseat blissfully unaware of the drama he had caused and the cost of the counselling his mother now needed, eating the kinder egg he had earlier swapped for a banana because at this point I really was defeated, not by my toddler, he was just frustrated and lacked the capability to understand, but by the passers by. By the tutters and the commentators, by the people with weird lasery eyes that burned my skin, by the other mothers who were on their way home to get jiggy because how else did they get daddy to parent (not babysit!) his own child!
What those people didn’t know was that I was a single mother, I had nobody to watch him because my mum and I had to work opposite shifts because I couldn’t afford childcare costs. They didn’t know that Thomas was starting his long journey of assessments and extra health visitor sessions. They didn’t know that this was my first day off work after six days and two double shifts and I was emotionally drained already because I have a challenging job, that I had been looking forward to some time with my son who I hadn’t seen for nearly a week because I work shifts and that was now ruined, that my son was acting out probably because he resented me for not being there. They knew nothing about me or him.
Despite all of this last week, in my hour of child freeness, I was one of those people. I was a tutter, an eye roller, a bitch. It took me two isles, an ocean of moaning co-shoppers and a tractor tom DVD to realise this, weird that an abandoned DVD was what I needed to remind me what that mother was feeling like right then.
I went back and walked past the screaming toddler woman again and gave her a smile and a knowing look, she gave me a half hearted smile and then carried on trying to reason with her little determined monster. I did try to give her some of my dairy milk I had been scoffing on the way round but she saw it and immediately said “no thanks” in quite a stern voice before I could explain it was for her not the kid, but I just smiled again and walked off, she didn’t need me bothering her right then, I hope that I made that lady realise that she is not alone or a failure. That someone in Asda that day understood and didn’t judge her (not for long anyway). That her child is just being a toddler like everyone else’s.
Next time your shopping and you hear the screaming toddler don’t be a dick, flash them a smile, tell them you’ve been there or just smile and walk on by counting your blessings that you’re not the one sat on that floor this time because in the parenting jungle that is life next week you may well be!