“You have such well behaved children.”
Such a simple statement, and one that most people would take as a compliment. But me? No. Rather than feeling proud of my children, the comment made me want to reach across the checkout lane and smack some sense into the cashier who made the comment.
I suppose that I can’t blame her entirely, at the time she made her comment my children were both sitting quietly on a bench adjacent to the checkout lane I was in. What she failed to notice was how stressed out the mom of these two “well behaved children” looked. Her point of view is limited to when shoppers come through the checkout lane, the problem was that my children were not well behaved through the rest of the store. This wasn’t them being well behaved because they wanted to be, this was them being well behaved because if they didn’t there was a chance they might not see their next birthday.
It all started because I needed to run out and mail a package. It was a Tuesday, so I had both Cameron and Kaylee with me. Since the package place is right next to our Target store, I decided to run in and pick up a few things that we needed. Both kids are at an age now where they generally fight riding in the cart. They’d much rather be independant and walk through the store themselves (a complete turnaround from their older brother whom we had to ban from riding in the cart once he turned 7 because he was just too big to get into it any more). Most days this is slightly annoying because Kaylee can’t walk as fast so your shopping trip takes 4 times as long as it needs to, but at the same time, unless I’m on a time crunch, it’s not something I fight them on. I like their independence.
On this particular day it ended up being a mistake. I was at the store for maybe a dozen items, I knew exactly what I needed so we didn’t need to wander through every single aisle and, even with Kaylee slowing me down, I figured we could be in and out of the store in 20-30 minutes tops. We weren’t halfway through the first aisle when Cameron decided he’d had enough of just walking. Walking was for mere mortals. So he took off down the aisle like a little rocket. After calling him back to my side, we proceeded to the next aisle that we needed. There he took off again. Feeling slightly annoyed I called him back again and set off to my next destination. We didn’t even make it to the third point in our trip before he’d run off a third time, and this time Kaylee decided it looked like fun and ran off too…in the other direction.
By this point I was fed up. It took me close to 5 minutes to get them rounded up and back beside me. And I realized the potential problems of them continuing their running game if they weren’t going in the same direction. As soon as they were within reach, I scooped up each of them and dropped them into the cart. This started a chorus of wails that I’m sure could be heard through half the store. Now I know what you’re going to say, what I should have done at that point was take them both out to the car and leave. I’ll just come out and admit it, I’ve never been good at that technique. It isn’t that I don’t want to take the kids out of the store, and leave the embarassment of their fit behind. It has more to do with I’ve invested all of this time into this errand now and if I were to leave I would be wasting that time. If I’m going to put time and effort into an errand then I want to see results…and not have to repeat the effort.
By the time I’d collected the remainder of my groceries, the look on my angry face was enough to give both kids the message that they’d pushed mommy a little too far and that calming down might be the best thing for a continued healthy existence. As I loaded my groceries onto the conveyer belt, Cameron started to whine that he wanted to get out of the cart, which got Kaylee started as well. A renewed glare shut off the whine instantly. Then I realized I would need the room in the cart for the groceries because I couldn’t carry all that I’d bought and accurately steer a cart full of children. Cameron seemed to sense my dilema because he looked at me then and said calmly, “I won’t run away again, I promise.”
Seeing no other alternatives, I took his word for it and lifted both of them back out of the cart. Cameron took Kaylee’s hand and led her over to the bench against the wall, where both of them sat calmly and waited for me to finish. I realize that this scene was the only one the cashier saw and was what prompted her to compliment my children on their manners in the store. But my advice to anyone out there who might be in a similar situation would be, take off your rose colored glasses for just a moment and study the parent in front of you for just a moment. Their demeanor and appearance will tell you a lot about whether or not those “well behaved children” you see are the real deal or just trying to worm themselves out of whatever trouble they got themselves into when you weren’t looking.