This article, entitled Why I Still Like The Woman Who Called My Son A Brat comes from Courtney Rubin at partner site Embracing the Insanity.
I have started trying to treat my two-year-old like an older kid and give him a little more running room when it comes to outings. I have extended this attempt (slightly) to the times when we are running errands and I can sense that he has no intention of staying quietly seated in the cart. This often makes these outings more difficult, but I can see with each new trip that he is slowly getting better at behaving and acting like a nice little boy rather than a tornado in a human body.
Case in point: the other day I needed to go pick up a coffee mug and a box of tea cookies for my kids to “donate” to their Sunday School’s basket of coffee goodies which will be raffled off for charity. I headed to a store right up the street because I knew it had both of these items at very reasonable prices. The goal was to go in, head straight to the appropriate departments, make a quick selection, pay and get out of there before Big Trouble could do any real damage. I had a plan! (famous last words)
Naturally, Big Trouble started making a fuss after approximately 45 seconds in the cart. ”I get out….I stuck, Mom….OUT!” Oh, are you not happy sitting in the cart where you can’t reach anything on the shelves? Poor baby is what I was thinking sarcastically. But, I knew I had a very short window of time before he figured out how to wiggle his way out of the seat belt (as he always does) and hurl himself onto the ground a la Superman. So, instead of getting worked up, I calmly turned to him and asked if he would like to walk. ”Ok. I walk.” Great.
Now, he knows very well that if he is walking somewhere, then he is holding my hand the whole time, I don’t care where we are. This may seem a bit extreme, but he is FAST and I am only semi-fast these days. It’s just safer for all parties involved if I never let go. He happily obliged my demand for hand holding and we started our march toward the housewares department. I knew this was risky seeing as though I was going to look at mugs (breakable) which were located right by plates (breakable) and vases (breakable) and weird sculptures that I don’t understand (again, breakable). You get the picture. It was very daring of me. I like to live life on the edge.
We made it to the department without incident. I started to check out the silly mugs because I prefer things that make me laugh. My little guy told me he would sit while I looked so I said ok…until I watched him go over to the neighboring shelf and try to sit on a mini chest of drawers because it looked like stairs to him. Not great. Luckily, I caught him before any damage occurred and I brought him back to a little alcove one foot away from where I was browsing. He sat down and then looked at me suspiciously. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see him scooting forward on his butt in an attempt to sneak over to the weird ceramic sculptures. I pulled him back. Two seconds later, he started scooting again. I pulled him back. He scooted again. We went through this groundhog’s day of tug of war for about 5 minutes. I listened to him tell me, “I gentle, mommy” repeatedly as if saying that phrase over and over again would save the weird frog planter from being destroyed at his tiny, but powerful hands. No one believes you, kid. Sorry. Back to the corner.
Why didn’t I just give up after the first few attempts, one might ask? Because I am not a quitter! And because I am stupid. I finally decided that I had found the perfect cup (aka, the one closest to my hands the final time he tried to pet the 3 foot glass giraffe) and I led him away from the breakables to the coffee aisle where the tea biscuits could be found. ”COOKIES!” he shouted excitedly as he tried to convince me to buy every box available. I spied a small box that looked exciting and appropriate on the top shelf, grabbed it and handed it to him to hold as we quickly made our way off of that aisle before he reduced the products to crumbs.
We skipped to the front of the store (I pulled a muscle in my leg because I am old but it was worth it) so that we could finally make our purchases and get out of there. Unfortunately, there was a line. This is the fear of all mothers just trying to make it through a “quick” shopping adventure. And, I had no cart! ”Open it, open it” could be heard by everyone in line as my little guy kept trying to get into our to-be-donated box of cookies. I was too busy praying that the people in front of us would spontaneously combust so that we could move to the front of the line to answer him right away. He didn’t understand why we had to wait when he was ready to go so I also got a few “Come on, mom. You ready? I ready! Let’s go!”
Got it, kid. Believe me, nobody wants to get out of here faster than I do (except maybe the people in line with us who were tired of hearing him too). At this point, he threw himself on the floor in protest of the situation and the fact that the cookies we were getting were not for his enjoyment. I kept my feet wrapped around him so he couldn’t get away and I would have just stood there but I noticed people were looking so I decided to pretend that I was nervous about how dirty the floor was in there. That’s what good moms do, right? Ooh, honey, don’t lay on the floor! It’s dirty! (No one needs to know that he had already spent a good 10 minutes rolling around in the housewares department so the dirt part is moot). Come on now, get up and hold my hand.
As I attempted to hold his hand and keep him with me as the line progressed, he threw himself on the floor again. Not my favorite action, but at least he wasn’t screaming very loudly. The woman behind us started chuckling and said, “if it was me, I would just leave him there and step over the body.” This was my kind of woman. She wasn’t judging or giving useless tips, she was making light of the crazy situation in a very blase’ tone. She was supporting me with an attitude very similar to my own, something I had never experienced from a stranger before! I laughed back and said that I would totally do that if not for the fact that he was a runner and my adroitness is not on par with his.
She started laughing again at the now huge ball of dust known as my son still rolling around on the ground and muttered, “little brat”. She then stopped laughing immediately, realizing that she had just called a stranger’s kid “a brat” straight to the mother’s face. She then started the long road to ejecting one’s foot from one’s mouth by trying to switch it to “beast” as though that’s what she said the first time (and as if beast is much better than brat); then she started giggling nervously and changed beast to “beastoid” because apparently she just couldn’t think of any words to make her faux pas any less offensive so she made one up and then she just stopped talking. This entire onslaught of unintentional insults happened in about 5 seconds and I have to tell you that I found it to be the FUNNIEST thing I have ever witnessed in my life. I may have actually snorted while trying not to laugh at the mess that kept coming out of her mouth.
Obviously, I, too, was thinking what a little brat my son was being and I often refer to him as a beast (although he will now be referred to as a beastoid because I really like that word better) but she was a stranger and she didn’t know that. Under any other circumstance, my mama bear instinct might not have taken so kindly to someone outing my son as a beastoid, but I could tell that she didn’t mean any harm. She was just speaking out loud as a mother who has probably called all of her kids beastoids at some point in their lives. And, she had the good grace to realize the mistake and be embarrassed about it, even while just burying herself deeper and deeper into the “I can’t believe I said that so I better fix it but it’s just getting worse the longer I keep talking” hole.
If we hadn’t been called up to the next register right after that (THANK GOD), this woman and I might have become life long friends, all because she called my son a brat! She will hold a special place in my heart from this moment on as I will forever remember the day my son was christened “beastoid” by a total stranger. It suits him and I never would have been so imaginative.
Moral of the story, if you approach a bratty kid and engage the struggling mother, have a good attitude and a sense of humor and you may actually get away with calling her kid names (or at least give her a laugh)! And, if some well-intentioned stranger accidentally calls your kid a beastoid, give her a break; she’s probably just having flashbacks from rearing her own children.
Now I must run because my
brat beast beastoid is trying to climb into the tub fully clothed.