Tuesday, September 05, 2006


I took my 6- and 2-year-old sons to ShopKo on Monday to do some browsing. I came home fuming. Here's what happened:

I wouldn't allow the 2-year-old to have something he wanted, so he launched into a screaming fit. He's loud and persistent, which means he yells at full volume for a good long time. I'm a good mom, or so I think, which means I ignored his little tirade. (I can be just as stubborn as my kids when it comes to ignoring their tantrums.) As I was standing calmly in one of the aisles, a woman came up to me and said in her sweet little Relief Society Sister voice, "Don't you think you should take him out now? He's awfully loud and is being very disruptive to the other shoppers."

I was expecting some sympathy from her, seeing as she was old enough to have had kids go through this stage and all. I wasn't expecting such a stinging (although delivered sweetly) rebuke. All I could say was, "Sorry."

But I did not leave. I refuse to allow my kids to control me that way. I don't hit them, but I don't give in to their demands. I simply wait it out. Their storms, although intense, are short-lived. And sure enough, within about 10 minutes, I had him calmed down enough to make our purchase and leave the store. Besides which, that lady just bugged. I certainly didn't want to do what she asked me to do.

I wish I'd said something clever, like, "We're training him for the local hog calling contest and ShopKo is his sponsor. They encourage his behavior here." Or even, "He's practicing for the opera." But noooooooo, all I can do is apologize for intruding on her precious "quiet time." Does she not remember having kids throw tantrums in public places? Maybe her kids were never like that. Maybe she never had kids. Who knows. I just resented her intrusion.

Did I do the right thing? What would you have done?


The Daredevil Mom said...

I would have done the exact same thing, right down to thinking up much better responses later.

Case in point: I was out on my morning power-walk, and a couple of older women rode by on bikes. One turned around and smiled, and I expected her to say something like, "Nice day, isn't it?" or maybe even, "Watch out for that puddle!" But the words that came out of her mouth were these: "Your butt is jiggling!"

I just smiled as if she had said, "Good morning!" Later, I thought of at least half a dozen great things I could have said, including, "Thanks for looking!"

One of these days, we'll be quicker on the draw. *grumble*

Julie said...

Oh my goodness, Daredevil! That story made me snort! Just classic.

Don't you hate coming up with great zingers....after the fact?

Elizabeth-W said...

I'm with daredevil--some of my best lines come postmortem. I would have done the exact thing you did. Depending on my hormonal state, I might have said something to the effect that I was truly sorry that my child was bugging her, because he sure as heck was bugging me, too, but that it would pass and that I wasn't going to give in to the bad behavior. At least she'd know that I wasn't deaf and/or unconcerned.
And you know, it was Shopko, after all. It's not like you were in Temple Square. I pretty much expect to hear screaming children in a place like that. My new outing I take with my three year old, now that school has started, is to go grocery shopping at 9 am at Winco--big aisles, big accoustics. She can run the aisle because is's practically empty (buring up energy to ensure a decent nappy time), and she can sing the abc's all she wants, in a pretty loud voice. I'm going to hel-.

Bek said...


You did the right thing. Seriously, it is Shopko. What kind of shopping are you bothering? They can't pick out deoderant? Or was the very difficult toilet paper choice that #3 was ruining. People are wierd. This is why I named my blog what I did... Ignore the Crazy. The crazy is out there but we just have to ignore it. I am going to cross stitch that on a pillow and put it on the couch. The other thing I want to cross stitch is a pillow that says "People are Stupid". :-)

As for the "thinking of the zinger later" thing. I have had some practice at this. Only because I get the same comments all the time ("why do you want black kids" from white people or "what makes you think that you can raise black kids" from black people....or some variation) I get it 2-5 times a day. I have had some time to think of zingers and use them. The sad fact is that saying them doesn't make me feel any better then NOT saying them.It only gives them an excuse to be justified AND it shows my children that it is ok to react like a maniac when I hear something I don't like. Since 40% of my time is spent telling my kids NOT to do that very thing...well, you get the picture. So, be polite or ignore them then TELL THE FUNNY STORY and you have earned the right to righteous indignation. Not to get to relief society on you...but that is what I have learned in two years.

This happened to my friend one in STAKE CONFERENCE...and her kids weren't even the ones making the noise and the noise wasn't that bad. I was sitting right next to her. The person's reasoning is that they had an investigator there and they didn't want him disturbed. My friend just smiled and said "if this investigator is bothered by the sound of children then this might be the wrong church for him." Not snotty, just quiet.

As for the "jiggly but" comment. WHEN is that kind of comment EVER appropriate? I can't even fathom that. And from a stranger? What purpose does it serve? I am astonished ... and I have heard LOTS of terrible things come my way.

The BEST way to handle it is to do just what both of you did. Smile and be polite and act like it doesn't bother you. The only reason someone says something like that to another person is because they are in a bad mood or they are trying to be mean or get a rise out of you. If you don't a) comply with their request and b) don't act annoyed by it..you have taken away their power and their purpose for doing/saying it. Really. It gives them no ammo to go and tell THEIR story. :-) It sure takes the wind out of their sails in a hurry, even if they don't show it.

Wow, that was a long comment. You can tell this touched a nerve. I expect this behavior when I go out b/c of my family. It comes with the territory, but I am shocked that people in other places do this.


You couldn't have handled it better. You children saw the right example and you probably pissed of the lady.

Gloria Glo said...

People should mind their own business. And I think you did the right thing.

Of course, I have no kids and will likely turn into a grouchy old spinster lady - but for right now - I'm totally on your side.

Just keep your grandkids away from me ;)

LuckyRedHen said...

I disagree with most of what's been said (the butt comment - totally out of line... the white vs. black comments - none of their business).

I'm the one that wants SOMEONE (not me) to tell those moms that's enough of the screaming. Just the screaming. I can handle the normal kid stuff but after a while... eek.

Maybe it's because my kids DON'T behave that way in public. If they do then there will be hell to pay at home (taking away privileges, giving them extra chores to do, spend time alone, whatever). I don't think forcing the public to deal with your out of control child is fair. It's your kid, not mine, and I don't want to hear it screaming.

It drives me crazy when a mom ignores the tantrum in public. In private it's a whole 'nother story but there are different rules in public because there are different circumstances. At home you can put the child in another room, the garage, the dryer, wherever... in public you don't have that luxury and there are OTHER PEOPLE that are affected, not just you.

When I am out shopping I expect the standard crazy, especially Shopko. But ignoring your tantrum child in a store is giving them permission to act that way and that's outright rude.

You wouldn't allow your child to spit on the store floor, tell another customer they're ugly or break the merchandise --- you shouldn't allow your child to behave out-of-control either.

Kids are kids, I'll give you that. There is an amount of normal ill behavior children do in public but how long that behavior is accepted should be minimal to none and controlled by the parent. Ten minutes of screaming is WAY too long - a minute is too much.

What my hubby and I have noticed with our kids and others that misbehave in public is that a lot has to do with their routine. They seem either sleepy, hungry or need to get their wiggles out.

My solution? Make sure your child has had enough rest and food to handle shopping for a short period of time (is it naptime or close to lunch/dinner?); this goes for mom too (shopping when you're tired or hungry isn't fun either). Allow them to see the things they're interested after they've endured your shopping (five minutes in the toy aisle to your 20 minutes of bra shopping). Engage them in what you're looking for; "Can you help mommy find blue pillows?" Praise them for behaving properly, especially in front of other people. They want your attention and to know you're proud of them.

Sorry "I" went too long on this one too, but I guess it struck my nerve just as much as Bek's. Dude, I kinda sound like Super Nanny.

I still love you all (except the people I don't know, I suppose, except I love you too in a we-are-all-children-of-our-Father-in-heaven-sort-of-way).

compulsive writer said...

You did exactly the right thing. It might be different if you were at the library or a funeral or something where it was supposed to be quiet. And if you were doing something or buying something for that child you would've been justified in leaving everything in the cart and marching home, but kids need to learn that the world doesn't revolve around them. Apparently so do some adults. Gimme a break.

I honestly think people just forget what it's like to have kids. Either that or they have an overinflated opinion of their own parenting skills.

But even if one disagrees how someone handles something like that there is absolutely no excuse for being bossy or ungracious.

I told you about when a certain actor/neighbor/the guy who sold me my current house followed me out of Sacrament Meeting once and asked me to take my fussy child and leave the building. Hello?! It was when my husband was in the bishopric and I already had left the chapel and I really was on my home only it was Fast Sunday and I just wanted to stay in the foyer long enough to hear him bear his testimony. (And the screams weren't blood-curdling, whatever child it was was just fussy.) Excuse me. Only instead of the perfect biting comeback all I could do was burst into tears.

It's OK you didn't dignify her smallness with a zinger. She didn't deserve one, really.

Sorry you had a crummy day.

Elizabeth-W said...

Lucky--You know, I totally do agree with you. I just imagined the child having a normal kid freak out, not an over the top, frothing at the mouth fit. Potty, I bet it wasn't ten minutes, probably more like 1.5 minutes, but it feels like 10 when you're witnessing it, either as the parent or the innocent by-stander. I can take a screaming child a gazillion times better than a screaming/belittling parent--that is what makes me want to go up to a stranger and intervene.

becks said...

i don't have kids, but when i hear kids screaming in the grocery store i don't really care. its not like i love the sound of kids screaming their heads off, but i realize that i'm going to have kids someday and they'll be doing the same thing.

what do other people know about what your methods of raising kids are? what do they know about what your day or your kid's day has been like? people who try to tell you how to raise your kids are like backseat drivers. annoying!!!

sometimes i think i have even made the kid start crying because i have tried to be fun and make silly faces--trying to make them laugh of course--but instead, i just make them cry. thats when i walk away pretending that i had nothing to do with it.

chronicler said...

Julie, I am new to your blog, have already bookmarked it, visited enough to be considered a stalker, and just have to say I love your wit, your writing, your ability to see things well.

I have to tell you these things because I probably won't comment all that much. You are incredible! I have experienced the same things as you, my kids are grown and having kids of thier own, but you experience things and articulate them so well. I am afraid if I comment I may suck you down to where you say those things running through your head to the nice RS lady in the store. I'll take you there for sure; sooner than you need to be, I'm there now, ready and willing to say what I please. Believe me you'll be there soon enough.

Until then, I will enjoy reading every post, having a chuckle and reminiscing about the good times, being a busy mom, living in happy valley. Keep writing and entertaining all of us.

compulsive writer said...

hey becks--I'm craving an update on your social life...

Lyle said...

Regardless of taking him out of the store or staying, you didn't give into the tantrum. Other kids would have earned two new Gameboy games, a pack of M&M's, new shoes and three turns on the kiddie ride outside.

becks said...

compulsive- i did update my blog, but it doesn't say much about my social life. you'll just have to wait a bit for a real update.

compulsive writer said...

becks--I went to see your update but it's still the Pet Peeves dated July 17. Blogger must be crazy or something...

Melody said...

Wow! Great responses. I like that Lucky offered an alternate view.

I like even more that my kids are so well behaved that they don't throw tantrums in public. Ever. Of course it helps that they are 18, 22, and 24.

Hang in there. It gets worse. But then it gets better. You're a good mom and you have good kids. I love all of ya'

b. said...

pottymo, you have to find what works for you. You can't please all of the peeps all of the time. We've ALL been there with you a time or two. If your kid(s) routinely throw a fit at the store, you probably ought to try something different. The thing is, when we get past that having to take the screamingfitthrowing age kids to the store, we DO kinda forget how it is. I am usually patient, but I (and apparantly a few others) could use some good, old fashioned, Christ-like kindness extending skills. I admit to wanting to take a few kids out myself after enduring a dozen or so minutes of blood curdling screams. I love all of the responses regarding this issue. They all make sense. Thanks for posting! Seriously, though.....the butt jiggling remark?? Are you shartin' me?

elasticwaistbandlady said...

I felt totally annoyed at a lady shopping for greeting cards with her newborn son. We were there 20 minutes, and we could hear her baby squall all over the store. When walking back up to the front, her poor baby was sweaty and beet red from exerting himself crying, while Mommy Dearest ignored him and continued picking out cards. THIS WAS TOO MUCH FOR ME! I'm chicken, so I didn't address her directly, but instead loudly told my daughter, "Look at that poor baby. His mom is just way too busy, and has too many cards in her hands to even pick him up or console him." She narrowed her eyes at me and continued shopping. Some people are just freakin clueless. Let's see, your pitiful, screaming newborn versus some crappy birthday cards. Yeah, that's a hard decision to make.

Now, your crying 2 year old likely would have gotten on my nerves after ten minutes too. I would have put it into shopping high gear to get out of the store as fast as possible at that point. I'm with Lucky, when my little kids start in, I begin running the aisles, making goofy voices, singing with Kroger radio, anything I can do to distract them long enough to shut up so I can get my groceries.

~j. said...

Wow. This grates my nerves.

There are so many different cries - cards vs. newborn? Glad you said something. That's absurd and it's a good thing something was said. And one of my biggest pet peeves is when parents deliberately humiliate/insult/yell at their kids in public places, often times to appease/impress (?) other adults.

I was talking about this situation with my brother, and he brought up some very good points. First, anyone who expects a child to act like an adult has a serious problem, and they need to realize that children are children. And children sometimes cry - whether it's because they're tired (it irks me to see kids at the wal*mart at 11:30 pm) or just emotional, but children do cry. And I applaud the parents that don't give in (M&Ms if you'll just be quiet) and stick with not giving attention to the whining/tantrum, AS HARD AS IT IS TO DO.

I've been the mom on the plane with the crying kids with the Cowboy sitting in front of me, loudly sighing and shifting to make it obvious how irritated he is that there's a KID on the plane. I cannot tell you how I long to grab said Cowboy and scream in his face, "OH, IS THIS BOTHERING YOU? BECAUSE, LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING, IT'S BOTHERING ME ABOUT A MILLION TIMES MORE THAN IT COULD EVER BOTHER YOU!"

My brother's addition to this kind of situation is the audacity that some people (ie, Cowboy) think that they're somehow of more importance than anyone else when, in reality, they are simply another person on the plane.

And, excuse me, disruptive to the other shoppers? I wonder what the internal dialogue is of the other shoppers at ShopKo: "Gee, you know, I just can't concentrate here in this crappy store -- if only that kid would stop acting his age I could decide what crappy crap to spend my money on."

I could go on and on, but then this comment would be longer and more all-over-the-place than it already is.

Julie said...

Thanks for all your comments. I must say this in my defense, or, rather, in my son's defense: he's not like this all the time. He rarely throws tantrums in public. I was not pretending he wasn't there--I was responding to him, but I was not giving in to his demands. I simply don't acknowledge threats from my children.

I too have a problem with people ignoring their newborns or taking their kids shopping at 11 pm (or later). I don't do that. I have issues when parents don't take their screaming child out of sacrament meeting or somewhere that requires reverence. But I do resent it when someone who doesn't know me OR my child comes up and makes a judgment call like that to my face. My son wasn't hungry, tired, or bored; he simply did not get his way. And yes, Elizabeth-W, it was probably more like 2-3 minutes instead of 10, but it sure felt like 10 for me. I know, Lucky, 1 minute is too long for you, but it feels like a lot longer for the parents of the screaming child.

For those of you who can't stand a screaming child, please cut us parents some slack and give us a chance to do what we know works for our children and our discipline style. We'll do the same for you, too. Thanks.

Geo said...

As my mean little cousin Shane said to my grandmother once after she's asked him an apparently objectionable question: "You tend to your business and I'll tend to mine!

You did fine. Maybe you should invest in a package of purple Hearos earplugs and keep them on hand for such sensitive strangers.

Lessel Peeper said...

My favorite thing to do in a store aisle when I happen upon a kid throwing a fit is to walk up to the mom and tell her "Way to stand your ground." Most times she smiles and says "Thank you." As for the kid, he/she usually quiets down and is pretty embarassed that a total stranger saw them crying.

I even find kids all by themselves some times, throwing a fit long after mommy has moved on to another aisle. I'll sometimes tell them that that's a pretty nice fit their throwing and ask them if they could cry a little louder...or if it would be okay if I join them. Talk about getting them mad--they usually shut right up and go find mommy.

Bribery works to teach your kids to manipulation techniques, beatings only make you feel better, but public humiliation is your friend.

Daredevil mom...

"Whatever does it for you, lady--swing around the block again and you can have another look."

elasticwaistbandlady said...

lessel peepers is banking on the stranger quotient to frighten little children into silence. Pure unadulterated genius!

Julie said...

EWL: Yeah, well, he IS my little brother after all. He's got to have at least some intelligence.

Lessel: So, next time the child in question is throwing a fit, can I call you to come pull one of those stunts? Then again, that might not work since he knows you. Of course, some of those monster noises that big bro number one used to make just might do the trick.

Lessel Peeper said...

It's brilliant, brilliant I tell you...bwuhhahahaaaa! Maybe we can start a grass roots movement to help bedraggled mothers with whiny kids.

Just give me a call, Julie...I'll race down and save you. Maybe I can get a spandex Superman suit...although, I look more like Mr. Incredible (at the beginning of the film). :-P

Thoroughly Mormon Millie said...

:: sneaking into the party late ::

If another woman had come up to me during one of my kid's tantrums and asked me to do something about my screaming child in a sickening nicey-nice voice, I would have a hard time not going off on HER. You did the right thing.

Heaven forbid a kid scream in a store. Apparently they don't come to earth with the information that Other Customers might be Offended if the Child Makes Noise. The newborn's one thing - but we've all had a toddler try to mess with our heads.

I agree with whoever had the Cowboy story - it's ten times worse on the parents. HORRIBLE.

Suzie Petunia said...

I am SEETHING!! -ABSOLUTELY SEETHING at the ignorant, unsympathetic comments left here! I know I'm a little late in the game, but I want to tear a few of your heads off right now. Thank goodness I don't know where you live. As a mother of small children I KNOW (TRUST ME!! I KNOW!) what it is like to ignore a screaming 2-year-old in a store.

There are certain errands/chores that I NEED to get done as a mom... I do my best to make my kids comfortable for the errand, but that doesn't always work. Ever heard of a strong-willed child? I will NOT let the strong will of my child control my life and accomplishments. The child DOES need to learn that the world does NOT revolve around them. He/she is throwing the tantrum in the store ON PURPOSE!! He knows what buttons to push! I don't give in. And I don't think it is ok for strangers to assume ANYTHING about what they THINK is best for me or my child. If you are so irritated by it all, why don't YOU leave the store? After all... you can come back any old time sans little children to get your errands done. I don't have that luxery.

OK, my rant is over. I was just looking around blogs to get myself sleepy enough to go to bed and now I'm all riled! Sorry everyone, but I feel a lot better now.

Suzie Petunia said...

OK, so I'm not done. See my profile picture? That is ME as a 2-year-old! I know I was a pain in the butt, but my mom and dad were firm, consistant, didn't give into my tantrums and I turned out ok if I do say so myself. I still need to punch something.

Skewedview said...

Nice post. Good feedback. As a father of 4, all almost grown, I can say that I have been a party to the same situation on more than one occasion. I do agree more so with Lucky, than most of the other peeps. I will say I am more tolerant of a parent not giving in to an unruly child, than one that is telling them to "Shut up or I'm gonna beat your a..".
Public places are just that. Public. The time to teach a child proper behavior is not in public, but at home. I remember my mom taking the time with us (4 siblings, all 15 months apart)to have quiet time, only to get us ready for sitting in church or the library, or other quiet places.
I know you were in a store and not a crowded airplane, but I feel like good behavior is for all of us, child and parent alike. There have been times when encountering a small upset child in a public place, I have commented something to the effect "someone isn't happy" and might even give the youngster a smile, nod or kind word.

Even though I might be a bit put out by a crying/screaming youngin, I would never be so brash as to address the parent regarding their parenting skill. So take this post with a grain of salt, it is just my two cents.

Lesleigh said...

Wow Julie, you really have struck a nerve with some people! I guess because most of us have either had a screaming kid in the store or have seen one. Either way, it's not a pretty sight.

I have to say I think you handled the tantrum and some posts very well. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion...as long as it’s closely aligned with mine!!

I mean think of how boring the blog world would have been this last week if that crazy lady hadn't said something to you! I might have had to actually sit down and figure out my own blog!

By the way, yours was WAY more interesting then mine would have been. :-)

Sketchy said...

Is it OK if I save your responses for future use?

And yep! You did the right thing.

becks said...

a lot of people commented twice, so i want to too! what else can i say about this subject that i have such little experience with...i think that even if you do teach a child to be good in public places this doesn't mean that the child is going to be perfect every time. if you think about it, adults don't even get things right once they are taught, just look at the ten commandments--everyone has been taught not to lie, but show me one adult who hasn't lied in their life after learning this principle? how can you expect kids to behave well in a public place just because you've taught them well. they aren't perfect and shouldn't be expected to be perfect.

Maybe the kid knows that the people around them need to learn patience, so they are just teaching them that! hehehe

Melody said...

I want to make a second comment too.

That was it.

Yeah, that felt good.