Yesterday evening I made a quick stop at the store on my way home from work. I was blissfully by myself. Didn’t have to lug a car seat, diaper bag, snacks, or a screaming preschooler. It’s amazing how children make you appreciate the simple things in life, huh?
After completing my shopping list, I hopped into the check out line. It was a long line, but I didn’t care. It had been weeks since I got to page through the tabloids and I had a lot of celebrity gossip to catch up on (Did you know Sim.on Co.well was leaving Idol?). About a minute in I noticed that the full cart in front of me belonged to a mom and little boy who looked about the same age as Sprout. I smiled – cute kid – and got back to my reading on Josh and Fer.gie.
Then it started. The boy was getting antsy from the wait and his fidgety whine quickly turned into an all out crying tantrum – hello familiar scene. In fact, his voice sounded so much like Sprout’s that I swear I had a moment of PTSD. My first instinct was to dive behind the checkout counter and rock myself in the fetal position. Thank goodness for the flying cereal box that snapped me back to reality because that reaction really could have been awkward.
Instead, I grabbed the cereal and a couple other items that had been flung out of the frenzied mom’s cart during her child’s rage and said “Hey silly boy, did you drop this?!” (don’t judge, it was the first thing that came to mind). He was instantly shocked into silence by this wierd stranger (wow, that was easier than I envisioned), so I followed with “let’s help by putting these things on the belt” – and he did. I know, crazy. Why doesn’t it work like that with my child? I helped her get the rest of her things out of the cart for scanning and made small talk with the little guy while she paid. He was especially excited about the picture I had in my purse of Sprout. When it was time for them to go, she gave me a wide-eyed “Thank you” and I just smiled and said “I’ve been there”.
Thinking back on the little encounter I realize how much these children have already changed me. The truth is, a few months ago I probably would have stood by avoiding any eye contact with a mom and her screaming kid in the check out line. I would have stuck my head further in the magazine and pretended not to notice. But now that I’ve been that mom…well, that changes everything.
So, thank you Sprout. Thank you for showing me an empathy and understanding I wouldn’t otherwise know. I look forward to learning so much more (though it would be nice if you could do it without the tantrums, okay?).