To That One Lady I Saw at Aldi Who Looked Like She Was About to Die of Embarrassment:
You don't know me. I would have introduced myself today, but I could see it wasn't really a good time. I was the other mom in the store, trying to keep my boys from staring at your kid as he had a complete and total meltdown.
I want you to know that I feel your pain. You looked like you wanted the floor to open up and swallow you whole today, while your toddler first threw himself onto the floor and then proceeded to scream himself hoarse because you wouldn't buy him those cookies.
I want you to know that I wasn't judging you. Those two little boys I had with me? Yes, they were being really good today, but that's only because we'd had a stern conversation in the van before entering the store and I'd said a lot of prayers and the moon just happened to be in the proper alignment. (And honestly, because they were so busy staring at the spectacle your kid was making of himself. Nothing makes kids behave like watching someone else throw a tantrum. So thanks for that!) They're not always that good. In fact, you could say they've set a pretty good precedent for your son; those Aldi employees have learned that you never really know what to expect from little kids in a grocery store. So yes, while you saw our youngest sitting calmly in the seat of the cart, and our older son walking sedately alongside me, what you didn't see was the time the little one took a ride on the conveyor belt at the checkout when I was distracted. Or the time our older boy shut himself in the milk case and freaked out. Or the time our daughter burst into tears because the store was out of cottage cheese and she assumed they had done it on purpose because "Aldi hates me!" And I have lots of friends with small children who also shop there. For my own sanity, I assume their children behave in similar ways when out in public.
I hope you didn't pay too much attention to those college girls glaring at you the entire time you were trying to pick your limp-boned child off the floor. Anyone could see that you were trying to calm him down, and really just doing your best in a difficult and humiliating situation. Don't worry. I'm praying that someday those young ladies will have children, too, and then they will learn that even the most obedient kids have their moments. I say we make a pact to get together and follow those girls around Aldi in, oh, say five, ten years, cackling malevolently each time their kid misbehaves. It will be about as helpful as the staring and eye-rolling that they employed was today.
Just one more thing, my fellow Mama. I didn't get to see how the situation resolved itself. I know your kid quieted down within a few minutes. I was trying to get through my list as quickly as possible, and couldn't tell if your little darlin' had simmered down, or if you had forcibly removed him from the store. I just want to remind you: Be strong! I understand that in that moment, all you want (aside from a brain aneurysm that promises instant death) is to get your kid to quiet down as quickly as possible, and while getting him those cookies may appease him this time, each time you give in, you're only making it worse for Future You, not to mention teaching your kid some pretty terrible life lessons. I know it's hard. Parenting includes a lot of long-term thinking and planning, and sometimes it would be so much easier just to give in. Remember: this is America, and America doesn't negotiate with Terrorists.
A Fellow Sympathetic Shopper
P.S. Please don't be offended that I referred to your two-year-old as a terrorist. Mine is, too.
UPDATE: I didn't get around to publishing this post until a few weeks after I had written it. The day after it was posted, I went to Aldi with our two boys. On that trip, I was the mom with the terrorists. It felt like a very cruel sort of irony.