Have your kids ever done or said something that caused you to suddenly feel guilty about your own behavior as a child? Even as far as getting a sudden urge to pick up the phone and call your parents to apologize about said behavior? I recently had such an experience.
For my birthday I received, among other wonderful presents, a gift card and store cash for Kohl’s. I was excited at the prospect of purchasing something just for myself — not for the kids, not for my husband, and not for our home! I originally planned to redeem the gift at a time when I could go alone, take my time, and enjoy the solace. Needless to say, on the day of my proposed solitary bliss, unforeseen events caused a change of plans, resulting in me going much later than anticipated and being joined by three energetic little persons that call me “Mommy”. Maybe I should have just rescheduled my excursion, but the store cash was due to expire that day, and my kids are generally well behaved, so I optimistically decided to move forward with the revamped plans — a decision I would soon regret!
To say that this shopping excursion was eventful would be an understatement. It was as if walking through the doors of the store somehow removed any and all semblance of my decently mannered children. While I perused the clothing racks, the two-year-old ran around, crawled on the floor, and played hide-and-seek in the clothing racks. The four-year-old did her own shopping, squealing and declaring to the world each piece she found that she ”just luved,” as if each was a present made especially for her. The six-year-old pulled double duty by running around and playing hide and seek with his brother while debating cool fashion with his sister. That debate of course lead to a spirited exchange of you’re-stupids, shut-ups, and leave-me-alones.
After they played hide-and-seek and obstacle course with the clothes racks, they moved on to peek-a-boo in the dressing room. While I tried on clothes, the younger two argued over who was taking up too much room on the bench and demanding the other move over. The older one pretended that some machine or person was trying to catch him and drag him under the half wall that divides the stalls. Fortunately no one was next to us. At one point the six-year-old went to pick up a hanger I had dropped that ended up half-way under someone else’s stall. My curious child decided to look under the stall door before picking up the hanger. Nice!
From there we went to the jewelry department where the kids wanted to touch and pick up everything and ask “What’s this?” Needless to say we quickly moved on to the bra department. The two-year-old again ran up and down the aisles while the other two loudly pointed out and discussed the different colors, patterns, and materials. “Hey, look! There’s one with cheetah on it!” and my personal favorite, “Mom, is that your size? Why is it so big?!”
Last stop was shoes, where, after running around the aisles, the two younger ones ended up going over to a woman that was trying on shoes and stood there staring at her. Just as I was coming around the shoe rack to get them, I heard my daughter ask why she was trying on those shoes. The woman was very nice, smiled, said “hi” and asked them how old they were, etc. I apologized to her for the interruption and quickly removed my children from the area. As we went around to the next aisle, the two-year-old, in a very loud and very annoyed tone, informed me that “that lady tried to talk to me and I didn’t like it!” My three cohorts then found some of those shoe rods and, as they went through several shoe boxes, decided to use them as drum sticks and play drums on the shelves, boxes, and floor.
I quickly made my shoe choice and was ready to head to the cashier. The kids all cheered and the four-year-old took off running and screaming down the main store walkway towards the doors we came in. The six-year-old ran after her yelling for her to stop screaming and running. The two-year-old was actually walking along side me while performing an air-drum concert.
By the time I paid for my purchases, I had completely lost count of how many times I had shushed them, given the Mommy glare, or said ”You’re too loud”, “Hush”, “That’s enough”, “Get over here”, “Get out of there”, “Lower your volume”, “Sit down”, “Get up”, “Get down”, “Stop yelling”, or “Stop running”! I think I met my quota for at least the next few months. As we were leaving the store, my precious daughter, in her sweetest tone, asked if I was happy with her. Happy is not the word I would use to describe what I was feeling at that moment.
When I got home and told the tale of our adventure to my husband and brother-in-law, I remembered how my siblings and I use to do all that same stuff to my mother when we were kids. There was just something about clothing racks and department stores that was like a big playground, but better. I remembered my mother yelling at us, using all the same phrases I had used earlier, and us ignoring her just as my children had done to me. It was no wonder she hated going shopping with us. I never understood until that moment.
I immediately called her and apologized profusely for all the times we had misbehaved as kids. She laughed so hard! Once she caught her breathe, she asked me what happened. So I shared with her what had transpired that evening and we both laughed until tears were rolling down our cheeks.
No matter how great a parenting job you think you have done so far, there is going to be at least one place where your children loose all sense of self control, and completely forget every good manner and behavior they ever learned. When that day comes, be sure to share it with your parents, if you can. They will get a real kick out of it, and you both might have a good laugh.