Not helpful strangers

* Life has been pretty busy over the holiday season and into the New Year so far. I have a few carefully composed half-written posts, interestingly enough two of which are about the difference that the kindness of strangers can make – so of course, I’m posting this rant about a not helpful stranger this morning. Maybe I’ll find time to finish up one of the others someday soon…

I have never come so close as I did this morning to giving a stranger a verbal lashing for feeling like it was within her rights to judge my parenting.

She didn’t know me, my child, or the situation at all. She didn’t even see the exchange between him and I that lead to him being upset. She didn’t know why he was crying in the grocery line. But she felt it would be fine to assume and judge me.

The sum up is that my 17 month old non-verbal Vaughn was exhausted and hit nap time right before I finished grocery shopping. I stayed calm and positive and managed to distract him and chatter with him while I finished up, waited in line, checked and paid for our things and was loading them in the cart when he pointed at me in his I want to nurse way. I whispered to him “Sorry buddy, but we’ll be home soon” and landed a kiss on his forehead. He threw his head back and sobbed as if I had plucked out one of his eyes so I offered him a strawberry which he luckily decided to take and start nibbling instead of throwing it across the room and going into full tantrum mode. The lady behind me in line said to him, “Good job, buddy. You’ve learned that if you cry she’ll give you what you want”. I gritted my teeth and kindly replied, “I had just told him no about something else and this seemed like a good compromise”. This should have ended our exchange. She continued on to say “hmmm…yeah, you keep telling yourself that.”

I said nothing.

Thing is, there are so many other things she could have said…things that could have helped a tired mom of a toddler. Things that could have encouraged.

She could have said something simple like, “that looks like a good strawberry” and given him a smile.

She could have given him a little grin and said, “Do you feel better now, buddy?”.

Something like, “wow you must have been pretty hungry” would not have been totally uncalled for.

Perhaps an encouraging glance or a “way to keep your cool, mom”, an “I remember those days”, or a “good save” would have been helpful.

Or, you know, she could have said nothing at all.