Have you ever taken a nice trip out shopping only to have the entire experience ruined by a screaming, shrieking kid in the store?
You try to move away, but that horrible whining sound just carries like white noise throughout the store and there’s no escaping it. Angrily, you think: Why can’t that parent control their kid? Why don’t they just leave?
Before you know it, your whole shopping experience has been ruined by some awful, disrespectful kid and their worthless parent.
Yeah … Sorry about that.
If you happened to be shopping in the Pickens Walmart last Wednesday, there’s a good chance that “worthless” mom was me. And that “awful” kid? He was mine.
And here’s why I let it happen …
I headed out to the store that evening — with my 1-year-old son Sam and 4-year-old son Ben in tow — to grab some essentials for the house. We needed milk, we needed diapers, we were out of eggs and I has plans to make a pot of jambalaya that evening for dinner — of which I had none of the ingredients needed on hand.
Because the boys are too little to eat jambalaya (my recipe tends to run on the spicy side), I told Ben we would stop at McDonald’s for Happy Meals — a rare treat for him and his brother.
So that was the plan: Shopping, followed by a quick trip through the drive-thru and then we’d be on our merry way home. It was a good plan, one I didn’t foresee any problems executing.
I was wrong.
In the store Ben asked to go see the toy section “just to look.” I’m not a rookie when it comes to the whole mom thing and I know very well that a 4-year-old never wants to “just look” when it comes to toys.
So I said no.
And he lost it.
In my defense, I have never seen him throw a fit like he did that night. Not ever.
Ben is on the Autism Spectrum and while I have dealt with my share of meltdowns, this was different. This had nothing to do with ASD, this was him just being a jerk. He wanted something, I said no, madness ensued.
I had to decide very quickly how to handle the situation and, like most moms do, I went with my gut — which was whispering in my ear: Don’t. Give. An. Inch.
I finished my shopping as quickly as I could with Ben alternating between yelling at me and sobbing from his spot in the cart basket. Then he started kicking things in the basket. The he started throwing them out of the basket …
Should I have just left the store? Maybe. Probably.
But here’s the thing, after he realized we were not going over to the toy section, his yelling changed to demanding we leave the store and go to McDonald’s right then. When I told him no, that with this behavior there would be no special trip to McDonald’s, he (if possible) spiraled into a whole new level of despair where I was labeled the “meanest mom ever” and was warned that he would be running away at his earliest convenience.
I couldn’t just leave the store, that’s exactly what he was demanding. And at this point there was absolutely no way I was going to cave to this little dictator.
I did try to calm him down. It just didn’t work. I spoke in a low, calm voice and explained that we would leave when “Mommy was finished.” When that failed I gritted my teeth, laid on the “mom death stare” and force whispered for him to sit down and be quiet — he just didn’t care.
Kid was on a warpath …
Funny part about the whole thing was while Ben was completely losing his mind in the basket of the cart, Sam was in the seat — happily swinging his legs — and smiling at everyone. He couldn’t care less about the utter travesty and blatant miscarriage of justice his big brother was convinced he was being subjected to.
A few encouraging smiles from other women in the store helped me to maintain my conviction that in the long run, it really would be best not to give in. Still, I know other shoppers had to have been annoyed and to that end I do apologize to them, but still stand by my decision.
You can’t negotiate with terrorists.
Kasie Strickland is a staff writer for The Easley Progress and The Pickens Sentinel and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.