Last week while I was grocery shopping I had a chance encounter with another mother. I was browsing the produce section at Meijer and I heard a little boy screaming "BUT I WANT IT NOW! YOU SAID I COULD HAVE IT!" I didn't pay much attention, because hearing kids crying at a store like Meijer, is not out of the ordinary. It's the price we pay for shopping at a place that has a huge toy section. I wound up looking at some produce that was right where the little boy was crying.
He was about 3 or 4 years old, roughly the same age as Adelae. He was sitting on the floor at the end of the produce stand. His mother was crouched in front of him and I heard her say "I told you IF you were good, then we could go back to the toy section and see if there was anything that you would like. We are not finished with our shopping yet. When you calm down, we'll finish our shopping." She then calmly turned away and proceeded to look at some produce. It was obvious, to me, that the little boy was in a time out and mother was using the strategy very successfully.
Personally, I've never been able to pull off the public time out. It makes me very nervous and embarrassed when Adelae cries in public. I'm always tempted to leave my cart sit and RUN out of the store. I've never left and I don't give into her demands, but I usually leave her sit in the cart and continue my shopping. This mother was the picture of calm. She had a little girl sitting in the cart and she was playing and laughing with the little girl and not giving her son attention for his bad behavior.
I'll admit, I lingered over the produce so I could see how she handled things. As I was standing there an older lady walked past. In a matter of seconds she took in the scene. (Crying boy, mom playing with daughter seemingly ignoring crying little boy.) Then the older woman looked at me and said quite loudly "SOME people need to learn how to CONTROL their children! The supermarket is NO place for that sort of behavior."
I know the other mom heard her because her face turned bright red. The older woman continued on past me. I looked at the mother of the little boy and I felt and immediate kinship. We're both mothers of preschoolers. We've both experienced the public meltdown. I'm not one to strike up conversations with random people at the grocery store, but I had to let her know that I supported her. I said "Oh boy! Some people are SO rude!" She looked at me like she was on the Titanic and I had just rescued her. We chatted for a few minutes about crabby preschoolers, public meltdowns and a few other things. You know, mom stuff.
In that moment we were linked. I was her savior, so to speak. I was her lifeline. I gave her the strength to continue with her discipline strategy. In the midst of our conversation, her son calmed down and it was time for us to continue on our separate ways. I'll probably never see her again. If, by chance we did happen to be in the same place at the same time, I doubt I would recognize her. But, in that moment we were linked. We were a team. I hope that if I'm in her position, I'll be strong like she was. And some bitter old woman throws snide comments my way, I hope there's another mom to pick me back up.