Yesterday, I was that parent.
The one whose kid is clearly out of her control at the store.
The one who is juggling another child and a pile (a big, somewhat teetering pile) in the shopping cart, and who apologizes to just about everyone else as she pushes her cart along.
The one continually pulling the child not in the cart off to one side, trying to keep her out of traffic, out of fellow shoppers’ way, asking her over and over again to please stay by mommy, to please stop dancing and running in the aisles. The one asking her to please sit in the cart. The one cajoling and threatening by turns, the one begging the child to please, please behave.
The one who offers her to a young couple when she walks in between them, smiling up at them in her most charming manner. They can take her for FREE.
The one who turns her back on her child, trying to finish her shopping and get out of the store. The one who walks away from her child in frustration, hoping that the child will follow.
The one whose child darts directly and face first into the shopping cart of another woman.
The one who has a screaming, bloody-mouthed child causing a scene in the middle of the store. Who says to the traumatized woman of the other shopping cart, “You probably did me a favor.” The one who tries not to notice all the people looking at her and her sobbing child, casting judgements — rightfully so, in the mother’s opinion. The one who actually comforts the other woman, as well as a store worker, saying, “I asked her again and again to stay with me, and she didn’t listen. Maybe now she will.”
The one who takes her child to the food court to get ice for her mouth, and breaks down in tears as she tends to her.
What if we were in the parking lot? agonizes this mom. What if that were a car?
And I cried some more.