We have all seen it before, a child in a shopping cart going bananas. I mean having a huge meltdown for whatever reason. Normally you hear the child before you see them. In your mind you are thinking to yourself one or two things 1). I’m glad it’s not my kid this time or 2). Why can’t this mama get a handle on her child? If you have never experienced a “Supermarket Meltdown” then you my friend are a lucky mama. Before I had kids I used to see it all the time and think to myself, “When I become a mama there is no way I will let my kid embarrass me like that”. Yep, I will admit that was my thought process before I started having kids of my own. I use to think that if your kid had a meltdown there had to be something you were not doing right as a mom. I was incorrect in my thinking. Some not so nice things will happen to you, even if you are a great mama.
Case in point, My 2 year old Daniel is very head strong, persistent and sometimes has an issue when being told no. He likes to growl, wave his arms and continue to ask for what he wants in different voices. We were in Target and I happened to pass by the toy aisle, which I never do (at least not on purpose anyway). He saw an Elmo toy and he instantly wanted it. I tried explaining to him that he has several Elmo’s at home and we were not getting another. I tried redirecting his attention to his toys in his cart, giving him juice and cookies and even trying to sing his favorite song. Nothing worked and initially I was embarrassed and about to get frustrated as people were looking at me thinking “Uh huh, she has all these kids and can’t control them”. I held my head high, took a deep breath and proceeded to have a very intelligent conversation with this little person. I explained to him that I understood that he was upset and his feelings may have even been hurt because he could not get Elmo. I went on to further say that it was ok to have these feelings and that he could show his frustration and to let me know when he was done. I proceeded to do my shopping acting like this meltdown was not happening in my shopping cart. I carried on conversations with my other kids as usual and about 5 minutes later Daniel decided that he was all done with his mini-meltdown and wanted to join us. He said, “Mommy, I all done”. I said, “Ok, are you good now”. He replied, “Yep”. Just like that we were back to normal and continued shopping. Another mom gave me a wink as she strolled by and saw what was initially going on. It was as if she knew what I was going through and gave me a silent “Way to go Mama” without saying a word. I nodded, mouthed the words thank you and went about my business.
The lesson I learned about public meltdowns was a valuable one. They happen and the show must go on. My child can scream to the top of his lungs and I will calmly address the issue and continue doing what I am doing. I have noticed that when I am calm, the sooner he will become calm and eventually the meltdown will be over. I have learned not to worry about the “side eyes” that people will sometimes give. I encourage you Mama’s when you see a fellow mama in public that looks like she is at her wits end to give her encouragement, not judgment. It doesn’t have to be some grand gesture; it can be a simple smile of endearment, words of encouragement to let her know that she can get through this and that it will be ok. Just because you have not experienced a “Supermarket Meltdown” yet doesn’t mean your time isn’t around the corner. We are all in this together, trying to raise happy, healthy, smart, caring and compassionate little people. Let’s help each other when we can and leave the judgment behind. If you are out and about and your little one has a meltdown remember to breathe, remain calm and continue parenting. It will pass and everything will be just fine!