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Dear Mom Whose Kid is Screaming at the Grocery Store

Photograph by Twenty20

Dear Mom Whose Kid Is Screaming at The Grocery Store,

I see you over there with the burning red cheeks, trying to keep your cool as your four-year-old screams bloody murder in the cereal aisle. I see you trying to reason with a little person who clearly lacks the reasoning skills necessary to pick up what you're putting down. I see that it's not working and that this tantrum is escalating.

I'm sure you're feeling like everyone is watching you and that your parenting skills are on trial. This is the part where I should probably affirm you by telling you that it's not true and that the judgement is just your imagination, but that would be a lie. Sadly, people are watching you and judging your parenting skills. Maybe not all of those people, but definitely some of them. I know, because I was once one of them.

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Before having children of my own, I can recall seeing moms just like you at the grocery stores trying to handle these meltdown type of situations. I remember thinking, "Why doesn't she just leave her cart and take that kid out of here?! There's no way I'd EVER let my kid act like that!" I just knew that with my background in child development and extensive experience working with children I would be able to use logic and reasoning to help my children in situations like that, and if not, I would just leave and teach them the lesson that behavior like that was simply unacceptable.

And now here I am, four years and three kids later and I absolutely get it.

I get that you probably tried your best to plan your shopping trip around nap times and meal times and chose your child's happiest time of day to venture out in public to run this errand.

I realize that you brought along snacks and toys to keep your child busy while you gathered provisions for the week ahead.

I know that you planned your meals and made a careful list to ensure that your trip would be an in-and-out type of job and that you could make it go smoothly.

It's just life and that's OK. Listening to a little bit of screaming never hurt anyone.

You prepared and you did your best, but your kid... well, he's just a kid and kids could care less about their parents well-intentioned plans.

I know now that leaving the grocery store isn't going to be a punishment for your child, but a punishment for you.

I know that leaving now would only mean that you'd have to come back and try again and it might go just as terribly the next time.

I know that to a kid, leaving a grocery store is more of a reward than a punishment.

And I know that sometimes, despite the best laid plans, that things like this just happen.

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Grocery shopping is a necessity and if you were able to come without children, I'm sure that you—just like me—would do it. Unfortunately, you and your kids have to eat... and wipe your butts... and wash your hair... and those things require provisions from a grocery store.

So mom with the screaming kid, I just want you to know that I'm in your corner and that I've been there and it sucks. You're a good mom—one who just needs some freaking milk and toilet paper and who has an uncooperative little one.

It's just life and that's OK. Listening to a little bit of screaming never hurt anyone. They'll get over it and you'll probably never see most of them again.

So hold your head up mama, and do what you've gotta do. I, for one, will not be judging.

Sincerely,

A Mom Whose Been There Too

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