Today I picked myself up a new pair of Chuck’s. I have been eyeing this color for months! It is the color of my dear Alma mater and I’ve been fond of red colored shoes for a long time – heck I used to wear red shoes in high school; I’d get made fun of because I had big feet for a girl and big red shoes…well, I’ll let you guess which fast food character I was called back then. Anyways, these Chuck’s were finally on sale at Academy so I found my size and put them in the cart. Yet while doing so Tedy decided that he didn’t want to be shopping. I had a feeling this meltdown was coming; Tedy does not care for shopping – he doesn’t mind grocery shopping but regular shopping, forget it. As he purposely targeted another shoe display and tossed it down the aisle all eyes went to me. He threw himself down in the cart and started kicking, screaming, biting, hitting, full-blown meltdown mode. The girls are amazing and automatically picked up the display and figured out how to put it back together as I restrained Tedy and worked on moving and calming him down. As we got out of the aisle that’s when I heard it; “She should just leave” in my head I responded with a “Fuck off I’m not leaving I’m getting my damn shoes” but of course I never spoke the words. I focused on making sure all my other kids were nearby and I worked on calming Tedy down.
We moved to why we were really at Academy, new pants for Tedy. As I held his head and talked to him about picking out new pants I heard a few more “If that was my kid I would take him out” comments. It’s not that easy folks. I’m sharing this story with you because it’s one that I deal with all too often. The older I get, the older he gets really, the more understanding I’ve become. I try to take myself out of situations I see and realize that there’s probably something more going on. In this instance, I was able to get Tedy to calm down, and I knew I would get him to calm down. Ultimately he wanted his jacket off but since he doesn’t have that level of communication, like a “normal” 8-year-old boy, I had to work with him and talk with him to figure out that he needed help taking his jacket off. Once his jacket was off he calmed way down and then asked to take his shoes off. I let him take his shoes off and he proceeded to pick out a pair of pants. Of course now is when the comments of “He doesn’t have any shoes on” started. “No shit he doesn’t have shoes on, mind your own damn business” runs through my head but again, I don’t actually respond because in the grand scheme of things I don’t have to explain it to those people and I may likely never cross paths with them again. We made it through the store with a few more mild bursts of protest but then he saw a little tent. “Tedy, do you want a tent?” He responded with “tent” and touched the one he liked. I had him pick it up and put it in the cart and then we headed to check out.
When we got to check out I made him unload the cart and place the items on the counter. At this time is when the comments of “Oh you sure have your hands full” came but I really can’t stand that saying so I just stayed focused on having Tedy unload the cart. As we exited the store a well-meaning woman said “Oh honey he needs to have his jacket on, it’s cold out” I kindly responded that “He would wear shorts and t-shirts everyday if he could” and we loaded up the van.
You see, if we “just left” then he would have gotten his way. That’s what he wanted to do and that’s why he started the meltdown in the first place. Yet life doesn’t work that way; he needed some pants, he needed to learn that he will have to do things in life that he isn’t always fond of doing. Just leaving doesn’t always help him. Now don’t get me wrong, there have been plenty of times when we have left because the situation was overwhelming but there are also many times when we deal with the meltdown and proceed. If we “just left” then he wouldn’t have had the learning opportunity to pick out his own pants and check out. He wouldn’t have gotten his tent – which wasn’t totally a reward but more of a late birthday gift. It’s tough to buy him gifts but he really likes the small tent at school, he sees it as a place to go and calm down, so I know when he saw it at the store that’s what he was thinking.
Next time you see a mom (or dad, caregiver, whomever) struggling with a kid in the store, bite your tongue for a moment. Leave your judgement to gossip about later. In the heat of the moment that’s not what the mom needs. They need a little bit of compassion. Things aren’t always what they seem. It’s not just about mom shopping for a new pair of shoes but man, getting those shoes can be rewarding. I have dealt with a year (+) of these sorts of situations by myself, this mama deserved the new shoes.