Wednesday, November 9, 2011

You Never Know

We've all seen it.

You're at the store, just trying to get a little shopping done, and there is a woman with her kids nearby.  And the kids are acting like little boogers.  Maybe they're crying, maybe screaming, maybe demanding one thing or another, but they are just being boogers.

You've probably seen this scene and thought to yourself why can't she get a handle on her kids? These kids must have no discipline at all!  What little snots, just get them out of the store and ground them already!
Don't even try to tell me that thoughts like that haven't passed through your brain, because we're human and we can't help but judge once in a while.

The thing is, and you'll know this if you are a parent (especially the parent who does most of the child-rearing)...

You just never know what happened earlier that day. or week. or hour.

Maybe those kids are normally very well behaved.  They could be at home right now sitting quietly doing calculus while dreaming up ways to better the world, but at that moment they were tired/hungry/teething/going through something rough.  Kids have bad days just like you.  Only we are adults and have (hopefully) learned how to control our emotions and moodiness a little better over the years.  And honestly?  Have you never lost it and acted like a fool because you had hit your breaking point?

Perhaps you're reading this and not blaming the kids for acting like the boogers they were being, but are blaming that mom who seems to not care.

Chances are, she cares a lot.  You don't know what happened before that moment.  Perhaps the kids have been cranky and unbearable all day, should that stop her from picking up something she needed?  I'm SURE she wouldn't have chosen to go to the store with cranky children if there was a way to leave them home.

You have no idea what her life is like, you have no idea what the kids' life is like, you have no idea because you are not the one walking in her shoes.  What may seem like obliviously ignoring a child's tantrum in public, may actually be her straw breaking the camel's back and it's all she can do to not scream bloody murder herself right there in the store.

My kids are generally pretty great in public, but there was a trip to a local thrift store semi-recently in which Little Man lost his ever-lovin-mind and turned into a child I did NOT know.  He was screaming, crawling/rolling on the floor, and crying.  I was so not used to that that I really didn't know what to do!  There was no talking him off that ledge, he really just needed to GO, but I needed to make my purchase before I could get the hell out of there.  I tried to look like I was doing something about it, tried to calm him down, but the only thing I really could do was check out as quick as possible and run for it.  I probably looked calm... I usually do... but inside I was dieing.  People around me were probably thinking some of the things from that third paragraph up there, but they weren't in my head, they aren't in my house, they are not me.

So instead of jumping to harsh judgement when you see the next public outburst of naughty child behavior and seemingly oblivious parenting, stop.  Think about what might possibly be going on in that families life that day, and instead of a look of horror, give her a look of  "I feel for ya" sympathy, or better yet - pretend it's not happening so she can get on with what she needs to do and get those kids home to bed!

Support each other, don't judge each other.
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