I like to think that I’m not alone in having a horror story like this. The grocery store can take on a feel of a house of terror when you have little “helpers,” and this trip wasn’t any different from others. I’d put off grocery shopping as long as I possibly could, and once the milk and butter had run completely out I couldn’t hold off the foreboding trip any longer. Did I mention that my husband was out of town and had been for over a week? I had no choice. Couldn’t even wait to go until 10:00 that night when I could shop in peace.
I dreaded it every week (or every other week if I could help it). I took a deep breath as we pulled into the parking lot next the cart exchange. “Here we go, you two,” I sighed to my two “helpers.” The trip started out well enough. We made it through the produce without any incident, and on to the meat isles. It really wasn’t until trying to decide on peanut butter that all Hades broke loose. One arm hanging out of the car cart… an arm and a leg… a head…a boy on top of the car… a boy upside down in my arms… another sprinting to the penny horse… then the screaming. That’s the part that sends panic into a mom’s mind. The screaming announcing to the King Soopers world that their mom is a monster. Good thing I only had a couple things left to grab. We raced down the frozen isles to find the final items while the entire store looked on. If you’ve never been there as a mom, it’s a humiliating, humbling experience. By this time I had two screaming children held like two sacks of potatoes pushing the cart with one foot (you have to admit that takes some skill!). Ok, so it maybe wasn’t that bad, but when you’re in the midst of a meltdown in the middle of King Soopers, it can feel a bit like that. Of course when your children decide to fall apart in public, the checkout lines are longer than Splash Mountain at Disneyland. the thoughts of leaving right then crossed my mind, but the idea of all that work (and nothing to eat at home) was too much to sacrifice. So I took my place and tried to avoid the glares of “what a horrible mother you are! Can’t you control your children?” and tried to do just that.
Just then a sweet lady in front of me said something I hope that all moms in a nightmare like this can hear at least once. “Oh, honey. Why don’t you just go ahead of me? What sweet boys you have. I remember those days. You go right ahead!” I could have hugged that darling woman a hundred times. “Thank you so much! That is so nice of you!” I smiled and pushed my loaded cart past hers. That simple act would have been enough to impress upon my mind the importance of not being so judgemental and being kind. But she went on. “You know what? Here’s $20. Why don’t you take those two kids out for lunch? I have grandchildren that are about that age. I love to take them to lunch, and they love it too.” I tried to decline, but she was persistent. I thanked her again and again as she helped me push my cart and I carried my exhausted, hungry, grumpy 1-year-old to the car.
I did just what that grandma told me to do: I took my kids out to eat with the $20 she so graciously gave me, just not that very day. While so many others looked on with disgust, that sweet lady came to my rescue. On the drive home I vowed to be that person who doesn’t look on with abhorrence or even pity, but to take action and help. It’s not easy to do, and certainly not my personality. And I know I can still try much, much harder. But I want my boys to know the importance of taking action, helping others, and not being judgemental.
I’m so glad that there are wonderful people out there that don’t treat you like a second-class citizen because your otherwise darling son decides to test your parenting at a very inconvenient moment. And in case you’re wondering, we still have yet to make it through the frozen foods without havoc, but we’re getting better.