I’ve had my fair share of “You don’t know what the hell you are doing.” looks over the last four years at the supermarket…. and everywhere really. They range from pity to disgust. They range from internal thoughts that I am not meant to see to confrontations. In all fairness I should disclose from the start – I don’t know what I am doing. Most of the time when that look comes in, I am at the end of my anxiety filled mess of a rope with a four year old who is at the end of hers.
I get it. I remember seeing those moms at Target with the kid having a meltdown about fill in the blank. Before kids I was all “My kids will not be doing that.” Judge, judge judge. I remember seeing it once I had two kids. My kids didn’t tantrum uncontrollably like that; and never in a store. Judge, Judge, Judge.
Quietly of course; inside my head I am all “Tsk, tsk, if only that Mom knew what I know.” Well, you know what they say about judging others. Lest ye….. My thought process should have been “If only I knew what that Mom knows.”, but that thought never occurred to me, because of course, that is not how judgement works.
And now many years later I know and I sure wish I could go back. Now I have a little one that challenges me more. And my normal MO now is to prep my little one for a trip to grocery store (or wherever), to start with the best of intentions every day to be patient and kind to everyone, and sometimes it works out, and sometimes I end up telling off old ladies who deserve being told off at Fantastic Sam’s.
So Monday was like any old Monday. After preschool drop off (which was disastrous because even though she loves preschool, loves her friends, loves her teachers, and has been going for quite some time….. it is always a disastrous mess) I got some errands done, but I did not get to the grocery store. I would need to take Little Miss C with me after pick up. Now I get that having to take a kid to the grocery store is a first world problem and I should not complain about it. I also know that learning how to get through a trip to the grocery store is a valuable lesson she needs to learn. While I get that, a trip to the grocery store with Little Miss C is not my happy place.
And as I often do, right before picking C up from Preschool I sat in my car and said a silent prayer. I started by apologizing to God for asking something so ridiculous and time wasting when there are far more pressing issues in the world. And I just prayed that I’d be patient and that she would not have anything set her off while in public. I prayed I wouldn’t be so sensitive if and when a mean old lady spoke her mind (whether in words or with her eyes), I prayed I wouldn’t carry a bad experience home with me to everyone else. This is what I do before trips to the grocery store, or like anywhere. It’s not long or drawn out and I don’t think anyone even notices. And if I am being honest, I work real hard at quieting that voice inside my head that reminds me how every other trip tends to go and that this is all for not.
And then Monday’s trip was totally different. We walked in together and C was her typical busy self. The first couple minutes we narrowly dodged about five shopping carts. As always I apologized and tried to correct and I kid you not EVERY SINGLE PERSON said something complimentary and graceful. Um, what is this?
And then there was a sample lady. Oh sweet Jesus, thank you for the sample lady. I am always thankful for a sample lady, as she provides leverage with the “We can come back and visit again if we have an OK trip in the store alright?” line. “Oh, I like deez cookies!” my littlest chirped after the sample lady gave her some hippie dippy protein bar ball thing made with hemp and coconut (I’m not kidding). The sample lady complimented her manners and told me she was darling. She looked at C and told her that the ball was a healthy treat and C REPLIED to her “Oh, thank you! I yike it!” Eye contact and everything. Um, what?
While waiting in line to grab some fish at the butcher counter C noticed some things were not in place. Ah crap. This is going to be a whole thing; probably where it all hits the fan. She has found sauces that are lined up just fine, but not according to her. And then, just next to the sauces she sees packages of smoked sausages – some are lined up vertically and some horizontally and she takes it into her hands to fix them. *sigh* “Deez ones are up and down!” *little eye roll and sigh* and she goes along fixing them. Once our fish had been packaged up we needed to move on because others were waiting. “I still need fix all deez!” and panic started to set in…. because she doesn’t mean to be annoying, but she just knows what everyone else doesn’t – the world will literally implode if she doesn’t line these sausage packages up right. “Not on my watch Mommy” her stamping feet say.
“Sweet Pea, this lady needs to have her turn now so we need to move along.” I say. This is where judgement is coming I know it. This lady who is a wee bit older than I am probably has places to be and opinions on what you should do with kids that don’t listen the first time. One internal anxiety attack – check.
“Oh my goodness!” says the customer who we are holding up. “Look at how important everything being in order is to her. She has a very linear mind.” She stands back and admires while C finishes up the row.
And what normally would have seemed like an eternity turned out to be only about four seconds. C finished and looked at me and said “Dey is done now.” and started a silly skip off towards produce because she knows that is where we go next. “She is quite bright, I loved watching that.” Said the lady that we held up. Wait, what?
And even though I wanted to grab that lady by the shoulders and tell she was quite possibly the world’s most decent person in the entire world and I would like to take parenting and ‘just being a good person’ classes from her…..I just said thank you quickly and raced over to C who at this point was charming ANOTHER person. “I wike bell peppas!” “We gets some of deez peaches?” and on and on. A couple people made it a point to tell me she was adorable. It’s important to point out she licked a banana and pulled grapes and bell peppers from the bottom of the pile. Several fell on the floor for me to pick up. Not one single person at this point had given us a look.
Because we rocked the produce section (sort of) we made our way back to the sample lady and picked up some hemp ‘cookies’ that were not at all in the budget. C didn’t understand “We gets da samples again?” “Yes kiddo, we can even take a box home!” She was confused because typically by this point I am racing myself out the door. It is not very often we go back to the sample cart, much less actually buy a treat.
At check out she helped me unload the cart. And by ‘helped’ I mean she nearly toppled over the cart while trying to climb up it to grab items I could easily grab myself. My little bull in a china shop rammed into the people in front of us AND behind us, because of course she did. Both chuckled. One said “I miss mine being this little.” and looked at my little rugrat with affection. And as if that wasn’t enough, the check out clerk offered her a sticker and told her she looked like Dora “I know dis.” she responded. “Look at her eyes and say Thank you please.” and she looked up and did. Check out clerk says to me “She is so cute.”
And as we left I did not quite get how that all worked out. C wasn’t really any better behaved than any other time. She had her regular number of almost collision, she had her little organize or the world falls apart almost melt down, she clawed at samples like she has never been fed. The difference was everyone (and I mean like 2 dozen people) we came in contact were exactly what she needed. Sure there was no pulling off the floor or prying something out of her hands that didn’t belong to her…. but that was basically because people were patient with her. I find it hard to understand how that many people were patient and complimentary all on the same day and that all the meanies stayed home. Divine intervention. Obviously.
Now, I don’t expect the world around us to bend for her just because she needs a little more bend than average. But on Monday it did and I have no explanation for it at all. I left the grocery store with the items we needed, a happy little monkey, and no guilt or embarrassment. You may think “Kate, that is not extraordinary.” but I assure you me leaving with everything I came in for, a happy child, and no guilt or embarrassment is not a thing in my world anymore. It was glorious. And for something as ordinary as a little bit of grace at the grocery store, I am very grateful!
As weird and un-extraordinary as it may seem to most who read it- I had to write down the story of how one day I am sure Angels conspired in our favor at Frazier Farms.