Thursday, November 13, 2008

The WalMart Incident and Trusting Your Parenting Instincts

*settle in; this is kinda long

This occurred in December of 2005, but it is still fresh in my mind. It taught me to not engage total strangers who think they are allowed to spew opinions about my life (that’s what FAMILY is for, anyway, right?!). It also taught me to not leave the house with a bunch of kids unless I am mentally prepared to deal with My Public.

So I take my 3 kids (ages 10 months, 3 years and 5 years) plus Joel’s girl friend Alex to WalMart. I was at the back of the store perusing, and Michael was sitting on the floor in the middle of the aisle. Then someone pushing a shopping cart tried to get through and all hell broke loose. I now know I would MUCH rather look like Pushover Mom and ask the innocent shopper to go around the next aisle than have what happened happen.

INSTEAD, I tried to be the Mom Who Looks Good in Public and first asked Michael to move. Okay, any non-quirky (that’s my new word for what Michael is: quirky) kid would’ve said, “Yes, ma’am” and moved. But he wouldn’t move. Not out of defiance, but because he kind of shuts down. It’s hard to explain. Social stuff isn’t his thing.

So I gently moved him out of the way. And he LOST HIS MIND.

He went into his Fugue State with screaming and crying. I decided to beat it out of there. But not before I bought my stuff. Did I mention it was after Christmas and I had some AMAZING deals in my cart?

So I’m heading for the front of the store with Michael behind me still screaming. If I speak to him, he screams louder. So I did the logical thing and IGNORED him. Thankfully, he followed me instead of running off like some kids do.

Once in line, I hear a snotty woman one line over say, “Maybe she can’t HEAR him.” Instead of ignoring her like I should have, I chose to entertain her and the rest of the store. I said to Snotty, “I can hear him. What do you want me to do, Miss Child Psychologist?”

She goes, “TALK to him or something, at least.”

I go, “Okay, watch this … Hey, Michael, are you okay? What can I do for you, Baby?”

He screams louder.

I say to Snotty, “GREAT idea. Got any more?”

She turns to her friend to make more snotty comments. I reach out and touch her arm to get her to turn around and finish this. She shouts for Security, who comes running over. Since I didn’t want to spend New Year’s Eve in jail, I backed off.

I unloaded my all-important craptastic deals onto the conveyer belt, Michael STILL screaming and crying. Snotty was STILL talking smack the next aisle over. I’m betting she has exactly ZERO kids of her own.

So I make it out of the store and to the van. It is then that I am visited by the Three People of New Year’s Eve (like the 3 Ghosts of Christmas, get it?).

As I’m struggling to get Michael into his carseat, my brother-in-law Ray comes up to the van just to say hi. I wish to GOD he had been in WalMart when I needed him because he’s a tall, strong guy and would’ve scared the pants off Snotty.

Next (do I have a sign on my van that says Open For Visitors????) comes the woman who offers Michael M&Ms as he’s screaming. I told her, “Go ahead and try to REWARD his bad behavior, but he’s not going to want them … he’s in an alternate universe right now.”

And did the M&Ms work? Let’s see. His MOTHER said they would not work. His MOTHER who is with him 24/7 and knows him better than anyone in the world. WHAT DO YOU THINK? (Sorry to yell at you, Reader.)

Michael is STILL struggling with me about the carseat issue, still screaming.

The final Person of New Year’s Eve is an ACTUAL child psychologist (fast forward to 2021, when I am updating this post, and Michael, who is 18 now—I kid (!) you not—wants to be a psychologist). 

She goes, 

“I saw what happened in there. You did everything right. Ignoring versus beating him is a much better alternative. That woman in there was just mean. You’re a good mom. Keep it up.”

And the sun's rays shone up my minivan, and then angels sang happy songs over the validation of me trusting my instincts as a mother and trying to do the best I could by my kids while also obtaining some good deals.

Isn’t it strange who God sends you when you are at your lowest point? Just a few simple encouraging words, and I suddenly had the strength to buckle that carseat and be on my way.

Here is my awesome, well-adjusted family today, July 2022


  1. This is why I love reading your blog! I have had MUCH too similar an experience (more than one) with my daughter.


  2. Okay. Okay. Okay.
    You got me there.
    You have enough CRAPTASTIC stuff. From now on you get....ummm something non-craptastic.

  3. You were at Walmart. Doesn't that say it all :)

  4. Karen, in the North OP Ghetto, no less. Now we stick to Tarzhay!

  5. I'm always proud of you when I hear how passionate you are about sticking up for what is right and defending your family. Not to mention, taking 4 young kids out shopping is brave enough!! :-)

  6. Mandy, THANK YOU! You know what's funny? I don't usually post stories like this b/c I'm afraid of being judged as a bad mom or whatever. Lately I've been getting real about things that happen to us and I really think people love to read real situations ... life is an adventure!!!

  7. I am not a stranger, but not family either. I'm still going to bust out an opinion.

    Miss TOTSOHN (Talkin' Out The Side Of Her Neck) would have gotten an expletive laced tirade from me for her BS, right before the 5 cops wrestle me into a paddy wagon. People like her piss me off to no end. Her is a tip for her:


    You handled that perfectly and anyone who says different needs to be cleansed from the gene pool.

    You are the best damn mom I know and you manage and raise your Good Catholic Starter Family with love, compassion and respect. Not a lot of parents get the respect part right with their kids. You do.

    As for the Aspergers, as I read that, that is exactly what crossed my mind. We are going through that with our 9 year old. Get your little guy diagnosed and be persistent about it as sometimes the doctors are reluctant to do the diagnosis. Our boy has his moments just like yours. He goes into that safe and very focused microcosm that is his world alone. What we have learned is in some ways, you have to relate to Aspergers much like you do Alzheimers. To drag the child into your reality just makes them worse. They feel like they have no control and a lot of Aspergers revolves around control issues. Rather than drag them back, meet them on their journey and you can help steer them through the pass between that safe zone and our zone. it is a very manageable form of Autism. Our boy has displayed this uncanny ability to know electronics and machines up, down, and backwards. he also is 3 years ahead of his grade level in science. He will be very successful, afterall, the world's smartest man has Aspergers (Bill Gates).

    As you always do with your brrod, you will raise a magnificent kid with the best qualities one can have in life.

    Much love to you and A.

  8. Oh, I have to comment on this... I have SO many of these types of stories, it's not even funny. You did just fine handling the Walmart witch.

    The best one in my memory is at Payless Shoes. Kids on the spectrum HATE change, and that includes getting a new pair of shoes. But when you grow out of the pair you have, you *have to* get another, ya know?! Anyway, my "plan" was always to go to the shoe store, shop around, pick out the pair I thought would best, and then try them on Drew. I knew all hell would break loose at that point, and I tried so hard to minimize it as much as I could. Because as soon as a new pair of shoes touched those feet - it was a scream fest.

    Anyway, I proceeded with my SOP and said new shoes did NOT work. So now I'm trying to wrestle with a kid melting down, getting his old shoes back on and getting out the door.

    In the meantime, some witch comes over and starts talking loudly to her friend (so I can "overhear" it) "If MY child acted that way, he would be spanked!"

    I replied "It's a good thing it's not your child then, 'cause Autism is a REAL BITCH!"

    She shot me a look that said she still didn't get it, and frankly I had better things to do at that point than educate her on autism spectrum disorders.

    Long story - I feel your pain. It gets a bit easier as they get older, though...



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