I get it. I really do. I had three children in five years, and the fourth one came along three years after that. I've done the sleepless nights, the endless potty training, the poop painting phase - yeah. I know.
I also know what it's like taking those children into public. You hope you can dart in and out of the store before someone throws a tantrum or needs a diaper change. Sometimes you're successful, and sometimes you're not.
I know what it's like to have a child who absolutely will not get in their car seat or who will not ride in the cart. I've been the mom in the parking lot performing WWF moves to get a seat belt around a child who does not want to be belted. And I well know the temptation not to make little Johnny ride in the cart when he's screaming his lungs out and arching his back and refusing to cooperate. Believe me. I know.
But three days ago, I saw something that froze me cold, and I haven't been able to get it out of my head.
I was at the grocery store and had pulled through the parking stall so I wouldn't have to back out when I was done. I paused before getting out, checking to make sure I had my debit card and stuff, and I glanced up. There were two cars right across the aisle from me. The one on the left was a black SUV, and the one on the right was a white sedan about the size of a Cadillac. The driver of the black SUV was a young mom with a toddler son. He was standing next to her while she put her groceries in the back of the SUV. The white sedan began to back up to pull out, and just then, the toddler decided he didn't want to stand by his mom anymore and stepped right behind the white car.
Two things happened simultaneously. The mother caught the child's hand, and the driver hit her brakes. If either woman had not reacted instantly, that child would have been hit and most likely killed - he was within inches of it, literally. I could hear the mother lecturing the child on staying away from cars. I'm sure she was absolutely terrified, and I'm sure the driver was too.
Moms, I know that you're exhausted and you probably can't handle one more tantrum today. But please, please, please keep your child in the cart or put them in the car before you load up the groceries. I will never forget what I saw. It was so close, so terrifying, so life or death. And sadly, it has the potential to happen any time to any child.
Sometimes we're worried that other shoppers will get angry with us when our kids throw fits at the store, so we make concessions to keep the peace. Know what - the other shoppers probably have kids too, and they've been there, and they understand. And for that one grumpy old man or crotchety old woman who will stare at you? Just stare back. You're raising a human - you're not there to please the public.
Please wrestle Johnny into the seat belt. Let him scream. It won't hurt him. And it doesn't make you any less of a good mother if he throws a tantrum - in fact, it makes you an awesome mom because you're making a hard choice to do the right thing. He will grow out of it, I promise. I didn't think mine ever would, and yet, here we are and we survived it. Someday your kids will understand and they will start to obey you when you warn them of danger. For now, they'll scream. And that's okay because they'll be safe.