I've decided that they probably aren't normally like that. And just maybe those instances aren't a product of crappy or permissive parenting. In fact, they are probably normally very well-behaved children having an out of character episode.
Yes, must be.
Carly is a bright, articulate, quick little girl. She is normally pretty reasonable, and will comply to a request if you explain calmly why we need to do something. She normally has a desire to please adults and help out.
I can usually walk through stores proudly, while she walks calmly next to the cart holding on to the side. I see the other parents of those terrible children throwing fits and think "see, I'm doing something right!"
Yes, today Carly was the WORST child ANYONE has EVER seen in a store. Today it was like a demon possession in the middle of a busy department store.
It started when we first got there. Shopping at 1:30pm without having fed lunch yet = a very bad idea. I was just trying to push through our list and get home, and this was the last stop. And we were just running in to buy one thing! Carly wanted to ride in the cart. But she's way too big, and Wes was in the child seat. So I'm nudging her up the aisles while she mildly whines about what she wants and doesn't want. I'm hissing "come on; we're almost done; we just have to get one thing; I'm sorry there aren't 2 seats; let's go!"
We were buying a spare car seat to leave at the sitter's house, and the box was huge. It teetered on top of the cart and obscured most of my vision. I'm trying to walk down the narrow aisles and not hit anyone while peering around the huge box, and dragging a whiny Carly. I really needed 3 hands- one for Carly, one for the cart, and one to keep the box from falling off.
At this point Carly decides she wants to push the cart. Ugh. Fine. I move up the front and pull/guide from the front so that she doesn't hit anyone.
This really set Carly off. "I want to push it! You don't touch the cart! I want to do it ALL BY MYSELF."
I stop, get down on her level, and explain that she can't see and that I need to steer so she can push. We start out again, and once again I hear shrieking "Mommy! Don't touch the cart! I do it myself!" I back off a little, and she promptly hit a rack of clothes, over corrects and hits an old lady in a wheelchair. I grab the front and straighten us out and hear "MOMMY! NO! I DO IT!"
My urge to kill was rising. It was 2pm, Wes is trying pathetically to fall asleep in the cart, and I can see hunger all over Carly's face. And were still sooo very far from the front of the store. Why in the world is the baby section always in the very back of the store?? Has any mom of young children ever thought, "I'm sure glad I get to haul my kids through the entire store just to buy a box of wipes!" I grab the handle of the cart, tell Carly she can push with me, and try to set a quicker pace.
That's when my kid became possessed. Like the kind of shrieking you'd hope your kid does if he's ever being abducted. Loud enough to easily hear throughout the entire store. Kicking. Yelling "NO! NO! NO!" And "MINE! LET GO! MINE!" I stop, get down on her level, and remain amazingly calm. I tell her that no one likes to listen to her, and that she has lost the privilege of pushing the cart because she's
It doesn't help. Reasoning won't work. There is snot and angry spittle everywhere.
New plan: get out of the store as soon as humanly possible.
I half jog to the registers, dragging a feral, rabid dog behind me. All efforts of maintaining the image of a mother-in-control are gone. We reach the registers, and start waiting in line. Why isn't there an emergency check out line? Like for when no one else wants you in the store either? You know, screaming child, if you're about to puke, or your water just broke. Those kinds of things. Then Carly starts throwing herself bodily against the cart. Man, she's strong when she's mad! I'm doing all I can to brace the cart so it doesn't shoot into the person in front of us.
I grab Carly, plop her down against the magazine rack, and tell her its time for a time out. Remember, still screaming this whole time. In non-English. She spreads out, laying on the ground, and winds her arms around the cart's wheels, still screaming "No! MINE!" It's been like 10 minutes of screaming, most of it unintelligible. I'm just surprised at this point that it's still about the cart. That's some focus!
And I'm noticing the looks. The ones I would normally give. The ones that say "Whew, glad that's not my kid. My kid would NEVER do that! I must be doing something right." And I want to say "Oh! I know! Where is this kid's parents?" But instead I ask the checker if she wants to keep my child, pay quickly, and grab Carly out of that store.
The screaming continues. Voice hoarse at this point, face red and shining with tears and mucous.
We get to the car, and I release my death grip on Carly's arm. She immediately sinks to the asphalt and begins the thrashing in the parking lot. Great. I lift her up into her seat. She's kicking and hitting...and of course still screaming. I nearly break her arms getting her buckled into her seat, shut the slider, and
:::sigh::: take a deep breath and enjoy silence for the first time in 25 minutes.
I stood in the parking lot at my cart for a few minutes gathering myself before opening the doors again to get a sleeping Wes into his seat, and wrestling that box into the back. Then I climb in myself and surround myself once more with the horrible noise that is my possessed child.
A quick trip through the drive through feeds the demon and silences her for the first time. As we pull out of the parking lot, I see a police car slowly driving up and down the rows of cars, no doubt looking for the reported child abuse. Then I look in my mirror aimed at the back seat, and see Carly's mottled face, tears still wet on her cheeks, and realize that my perspective has been permanently changed.
Never again will I judge the mother of a screaming child in a store. Never.