Please forgive me. This is a public service announcement. I should be used to this happening. I have had four years to get used to the attention and get all my responses programmed and practiced. But today....I just need to rant a bit.
I have twins. I am very used to drawing attention when I am out shopping (or doing anything, really) with all of my children with me. I have heard it alllllllll. I have been asked rude questions about why my children are so close in age (um, they're twins?) or nosy questions about my fertility or how I conceived twins. I've had gracious remarks and kind of impolite comments about where all these children come from. I'm used to this. Truly, I am. I have so many sweet (and sometimes sassy) responses to each and every one of them. I knew adding Hannah to the mix would just add to the fun (and confusion) as people try to calculate if it is humanly possible for me to have all these children (I mean, I do look about 16, right?). Now they have one that looks different from all the rest of us and that just mixes them up even more. People stumble over their words as they try to politely ask me if all these children are mine or if I am running some sort of a daycare service. I am used to it. Very used to it.
Today, however, was a new sort of experience for us. Let me begin by apologizing to all my fellow Walmart shoppers today around 11:00 this morning. Yes, that was me--the one with the child having an epic meltdown. In Walmart. It started in the parking lot and I left a bloody trail of tears and screams through the pharmacy section, on into the back to school items, through the office department, and wrapping it up in the grocery department. Yep. That was me. Funny thing? If this had been any of my three oldest children at any point in time, I would have been simply mortified to walk through the store with this child and likely would have abandoned ship at some point and called it quits. Best part? I'm so used to it now, I didn't really realize that I was just shopping on through it, acting as if all was right with the world until somewhere around the school supplies. Truth be told, I had no clue what had set it off or what would turn it off, so I figured I might as well just get my shopping done--she was going to be loud no matter what we did. I could stand there and try to end it for 5 minutes and still have her screaming after that, or, I could shop onward, with one big kid boldly plugging his ears, the other curled up in a ball on the floor of the big cart, and the other shopping with school supplies right along with me, oblivious to the screaming making its way from our shopping cart.
May I be so bold as to put this out there, fellow shoppers? Don't judge. Please do not judge that mama with the weeping and wailing little one in the cart. Maybe the child really is a spoiled brat who wants nothing more than ice cream on a stick, but really, do you really know that? Do you have any idea what is going on in their little world? No, you really don't. I turned a lot of heads today. A lot of heads. Yes, I had a load full and yes I had one attracting quite a bit of attention as she did her yodel wail through all of Walmart. Yes, my Chinese daughter yodels. Someday you might get to hear it. I even had one mama pass me up and down two aisle, staring and head turning, only to approach me at the end of the next aisle to get right up in my baby's face and ask her what is wrong and why on earth she is crying like that. Sweet fellow shopper lady, I know you mean well, but please....back off. Your well meaning face in my child's face is only adding to the attention we are drawing and increasing the volume at which the yodeling is occurring. You're terrifying my child with your big, white face right in hers. Then, as you look at me and boldly ask, "What is wrong with her?" please don't be miffed at me as I simply shrug, smile, and say, "I guess I overstimulated the baby today!" Do you honestly think I wouldn't stop it if I could? Do you really want all the real reasons why my child is acting like that? No, my child isn't a spoiled little brat. She's five months into the most intensive cultural bath she's ever going to face in her life. She's sorting out right from wrong, up from down and while Walmart has established its blessed presence in China, I can assure you, it was not #1 on her most frequented list of destinations while living there. Most days she's a great little shopper. Today, my timing was poor, we're wrapping up the craziness that is VBS week at church, we're all a bit tired and haggard from being out of routine, and late sleepers today meant we were in the store right at snack and just prior to lunchtime, for which I was ill prepared. My daughter has intense fear about food, about there being enough food, and wants something in her mouth practically twenty four hours a day. Walmart is a war zone for her to practice her self control and trust that I will buy her food and provide that food for her once we exit the store. It takes a great deal of restraint not to demand all of it now and to not freak out when that isn't the scenario that plays out. But you really didn't want to know all of that, did you, fellow shopper? You just want my kid to be quiet and let you shop. I get it. I was you once. Now, I hear a crying child and I think, "thank goodness it isn't me today" and "I wonder what they are going through at home?"
I challenge you, the next time you are out shopping, and you hear or see a child having an epic meltdown in the store, push your thoughts to move past the "spoiled little brat" mentality. There may be a whole lot more going on there than meets the eye. And please, don't try to exercise your impressive parenting skills by stepping in to attempt to shush said child since the mother is clearly an incapable idiot. No...maybe just give her a compassionate, knowing glance that says, "I know you must be having a really trying time. You will get through." And just let her shop on.
So now I will end this public service announcement. Shop on, fellow shoppers, shop on. And please excuse my yodeling/wailing child in the background. Our list is short, I have the store memorized, I won't stand in your check out lane, and I promise I'll be efficient.