I picked the purple flowers.
His high pitch scream deafens the room as he turns bright red. “Yellow!” He screeched. “No,” I calmly reasoned. “I’m getting purple today.”
We were almost at the checkout, after around an hour of slowly making our way through the supermarket. I was getting frustrated, it doesn’t normally take this long. Our Aldi doesn’t keep the baby trolleys in the shade, so they were too hot for Juju to ride in and she sucks at sitting upright. Luckily I was prepared and strapped her to me with my favourite piece of fabric. However this makes bending over slow, and I couldn’t fight Smasher into the toddler seat, so he was roaming free. Also slow.
But we had done so well, no upsets or tantrums. Smash picked out a little succulent to take home and a squeezy yogurt for the ride to the fruit and veg market. It was these damn flowers that were the problem.
It was busy, and everyone has stopped to watch the brat have his meltdown. This blonde-haired, blue-eyed, cute-as-a-button banshee. He’s screaming his little lungs out and pulling the trolley in the other direction as I make my way to the checkout.
We get there, third in line. I realise I’d forgotten my green bags. Of course I did. Smasher reaches for his yogurt and tosses it on the floor. A man lines up behind us and picks it up for me. I thank him. He watches me hook my leg around the trolley so my little monster can’t drag it away, and slowly unpack my groceries onto the conveyor belt. One item at a time, moving like a tortoise so the baby doesn’t bounce right off my hip. All the while he watches, all the while my toddler continues to deafens the entire supermarket.
I notice it’s almost our turn. “Would you like to jump ahead?” I ask the man behind us. “We’re not going to be ready in time…” He starts grabbing handfuls of my groceries “look you’re almost done!” I’m this weird combination of thankful and embarrassed by now. I thank him, and drag the trolley with the wailing goblin hanging from it to the cashier.
“I won’t ask how you’re doing,” was the first thing he jokingly said to me. I’m struggling to get the trolley to stay still as Smasher continues to pull it away. Yes, he’s still screaming. Yes, I still have the baby hanging off me. The cashier is flinging the groceries through fast, I’ve got my leg hooked around the trolley, balancing the baby as best I can, and throwing my stuff in not worrying about what’s getting crushed.
And then it happened. “You’re hurting my ears mate,” the cashier said to my child. Now perhaps he thought he was being funny. Or maybe he was trying to reason with the little banshee. But that was it for me. All the calm I had vanished, and I quietly lost it. Not at Smasher, not at the silly man behind the desk, but at myself. I was silent for the remainder of the transaction, tears rolling down my cheeks. I paid, thanked him, and dragged my cart and monster away.
I attempted to reason with my little terror. That’s enough. I’m not having this screaming n my car. As if he’s listening. He doesn’t care about anything except having his little meltdown. Long story short, we make it to the car, and I have my giant, teary meltdown in semi-private.
Now, I usually lose my jam at home, not in public. I’m generally pretty good with the kids meltdowns out and about so I’m not 100% sure what tipped me over that day. Perhaps it was because this was the third situation in three days. Perhaps I’m very tired.
Perhaps having the entire store just stop and watch a mum struggle pushed my buttons a little. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t asking anyone to help me out – ignoring me and my banshee is perfectly fine. But to just stop and stare at us? I’m not okay with that. He’s two. It happens. Move on.
And that man putting our groceries through – I’m sure he meant no harm. Though, I’m actually one of those people who don’t like to be inconsiderate to others. I don’t care what people think, but I do care about causing problems. Which is what I was made to feel like, being out with my child. On big, massive, screaming problem.
Now I must give a little shout out to the two ladies who tried to help me on my way out. You are beautiful souls and I’m so thankful you were brave enough to approach me.Unfortunately by that point I just needed to escape and have my meltdown, so I couldn’t accept your offers. But thank you – those gestures meant the world to me.
The worst part of all this for me is knowing that I’m a pretty well seasoned parent. My eldest turns seven next month, I’ve been doing this for awhile. I’m not easily distressed about what other people think about me and my parenting. But what really disturbs me is knowing that if this is how hard it is for me, then it must be a real struggle at times for some mums. Not everyone is hardened to strangers words and many feel the sting of parent shaming. Which honestly just sucks and makes me incredibly mad. It’s so unnecessary.
I’ve avoided taking baby Hulk out in public since that Tuesday shopping adventure, but for those ladies I’m going to be brave.
And hopefully next time I see a mama struggle, I’ll be able to pass on that kindness.