I looked her in the eye and said in a flat, emotionless tone, “Try Mom-ing.”
She was stunned. Stunned I would refute her claim she knew what was best for her child while allowing him to roam in front of busy shoppers in a store at the pharmacy counter of all places. The space is tight enough, and sick people aren’t the most pleasant. However, and please take this at face value because I do have boys whom I cherish with all my heart, when your barely-bigger-than-toddler-child decides to stick out his arms to stop my rolling cart, I am going to mention it’s not a good idea. It’s not safe for his arms to be in the aisle where they could get hit.
His mother, instead of thanking me for not staring into my cell phone, as she had been doing, and giving her child a pro-life tip, was irate. Irate that I would have the gall to speak to her child, apparently at all. My tone was light and sing-songy, as I would speak to my own children when they were that age. The mother did not agree.
“I’m his mom,” she snarled when I was about 10 feet from her.
I had already passed, but from the direction of the anger, I could tell it was the mother of the child I had pleasantly not hit with my cart as he reached out, not for the first time, to stop my cart. It wasn’t my cart he had successfully stopped, you see. My cart was the fourth I had noticed him try to stop. I just happened to not want to allow a toddler to dictate my direction in an already tight space.
I stopped and looked at the mother, who now had lowered her phone from her face, brave enough to call me out — once I was at a safe distance. It was clear she had no idea what had gone on. Buried in her phone, I’m sure she felt guilty about not noticing her child was in potential danger. At worst, she was hoping he’d get hurt and cause a scene or press charges.
You never know these days.
I really wanted to have kindness in my heart. I did have kindness in my heart. I’ve had young children, although mine are so close in age it seems like I’ve always been a mother of two, and understand the days are long. The days can be excruciatingly long with a precocious toddler. My solution was lots of time outside, fresh air, and a double stroller in stores. The years are very short.
It takes a village to raise a child. It takes all of us looking out for those who cannot look out for themselves, to keep them from harms way. We are responsible to also set, shall we say, certain guidelines for etiquette in our society.
Do we want children running into traffic? Of course not. Does that start by respecting boundaries and staying clear of moving traffic? I think so.
I took a couple steps back towards this mother and saw a lot of anger. Likely that anger was just at me, but in that moment I realized I also was likely twice her age. Perhaps she was the child’s mother, perhaps an older sibling or aunt, but the anger was – in my opinion – unjustified.
I thought that mom-ing should be something she could try doing. Alternatively, getting off the phone would have been nice, but a sunny day in Seattle is not a day to waste on those who already know everything.