Another thing about my sweet girl that you should know, is she has been testing a variety of intricate manipulation tactics on me since birth. Today, she is using the always-popular-amongst-her-peers “I’m going to use the saddest, most pitiful tears until I get my way.” And in this instance, “her way” is referring to my wallet, which she wants to hold and sort through. I’ve let her play with the contents of my wallet before, but only at home, with my supervision. The last thing I need is lost credit cards in public.
To the person at Target who is watching me and my screaming child with a look of horror on her face… Yes, I know that my child is crying uncontrollably, and no, I do not plan to attend to her at this moment. Does that make me a bad mother in your eyes? Let me explain the bigger picture, and then I bet you’ll understand.You see, my adorable daughter hasn’t fully realized, yet, that the world doesn’t revolve around her. More specifically, that Mommy doesn’t revolve around her. (Well, who are we kidding… Mommy’s world does completely revolve around her, but I’m not going to let on quite yet.)
So, being the fabulously calm and reasonable Mom that I am (sometimes) I lovingly explained to my youngest that in order to ensure that we don’t lose anything, now is not the right time to play with Mommy’s wallet. Well, that didn’t go over too well, and my sweet angel decided to go for broke – she gave me her biggest sad lip, cried as though the sky is falling, laid on the floor, and threw in several good screams for added drama.
But, dear stranger in the grocery store, you don’t have the back story. This is what you see – You see a super cute blond-headed little girl, crying, and her Mother ignoring her completely. I might even have my mini iPad open, checking the Target app for deals. Which to you, may have looked like I was consumed by social media, rather than the needs of my child.
So, I get it. Unless you, too, have been in my shoes lately, you may think that ignoring a child is wrong. But I believe that giving any attention to manipulative behavior is wrong. It’s extremely tempting, in public, to coddle my child or find a quick pacifier (figuratively speaking…we’re way past the literal pacifier stage). I’m not exactly proud of my screaming child, nor am I “calm and cool” on the inside while she’s having her little meltdown. It’s quite the opposite, actually. I’m sweating on the outside, and totally stressed out on the inside. I want her to stop.
In about 5 minutes, if she hasn’t gotten the point that I will not be handing over my wallet anytime soon (especially given her unpleasant response to my original answer on the matter), then I will try to redirect her. For everyone’s sake, first of all mine and hers. I will show her something in the store that is fun or interesting. I might sing a song. I might show her pictures on my phone. I might give her a snack. I will do something to redirect her little toddler emotions so that we can both move past it. But before I do that, I will make her deal with her disappointment, and hopefully teach her early in life that a tantrum will not help you get your way.
So, dear stranger, please don’t judge. Please know that often there is more to the story. And if I am wrong, and actually you aren’t judging me at all…it’s just my own panic and insecurities making me think that you are, then I apologize for my reverse judgment on you!