I was in Target with my three teens a few Saturdays ago when it seemed everyone else had also decided to hit up their shelves for Easter candy and dish soap too. As we approached the registers to cash out, there was a toddler in front of us who was having an epic meltdown in the self-checkout line.
We all know navigating our way through that damn line is stressful enough on its own. Add an unhappy child who’s banging on the grocery cart with a box of Kleenex as you are trying to type in how many apples you have, and you’re in hell.
As were waiting in line, my youngest said, “Mom, I feel so bad for that man. He has two kids (one who was clinging to his leg, and other who wanted to get the hell out of there) and he is by himself.”
I felt bad for the guy too, and it made me remember all the times I was in a store or restaurant alone with my three kids and they weren’t having any of it, and had zero chill about not getting their way, being in a place that smelled funny, or having to leave a place they loved.
Also, I stood looking at my three teens and was glad we were done with that phase. Don’t get me wrong, teens are hard as hell in their own ways, but dealing with public tantrums as snot drips from their nose because they couldn’t have a container of Tic-Tacs is a thing of the past now. I don’t miss that part.
As I proceeded to tell my three very large babies how many times they did that to me (and how much they made me sweat and cry), they laughed. It was nice to have distance between those days and laugh with them about their former shenanigans.
However, the two ladies behind us chimed in with life lessons about how their kids never acted like that in public, and if the man had left his kids with the two of them, they never would have dared to pull that crap.
“If they lived under my roof, that would never happen,” said the lady to her friend.
Because of course.
We hear it and see it all the time in real life, and the shaming comments that swirl around social media, in regards to parenting, are relentless.
If they were my kids, I’d set them straight.
If they were my kids, I’d show them who was boss.
If they were my kids, they’d know how to act.
Their parents are lazy.
Really, some people need to un-douche themselves.
Because what you are saying is your kids are like little robots who never misbehave or show emotions like sadness or frustration.
You are saying they never struggle, or have bad days or want to get the fuck out of Target because their dad is taking 30 minutes to figure out the self-checkout machine and they want to go home and play. Or sleep. Or eat.
You are saying your kids never asked for something and were told “no” and didn’t take it well.
When you are judging another parent based on a few moments out in public, you have no idea what happened behind the scenes that led to this moment.
Maybe they were awake all night because their sibling was up coughing.
They could be cutting a tooth.
They might be really frustrated about how the tag on the back of their shirt feels.
Perhaps they don’t feel well and they don’t know how to tell their parent where it hurts.
Maybe they are really hungry or thirsty.
They could have a disability you know absolutely nothing about.
I once saw a family in Wendy’s whose toddler was going bonkers and they had to carry him out of the restaurant to sit in the car with him until he was calm again and many eyes that followed them out the door were rolling or shaking their heads.
They came back in and were in the bathroom for a while and when I saw them settling in with their food, and their son sat and enjoyed his chili with dried tears on his cheeks, we began talking.
Turns out they were on a road trip, their first one, and their son wasn’t used to going to the bathroom in public places and hadn’t had a bowel movement for four days and was extremely uncomfortable.
“The poop finally came outta my butt!” he told me after he finished his lunch.
You know, if I hadn’t taken a shit for four days and was driving from California to Maine, spending days in a car, I’d probably throw it down in a public place too.
When you see a child making a scene in a public place, keep your damn comments to yourself. That’s great you think you can do a better job or your kids never tried to pull anything comparable. Or you have a secret formula in your back pocket.
But you sharing that information, whether it’s online, or making passive aggressive comments when you are standing behind them in line in all your self righteous glory doesn’t help anyone. And it makes you look like an absolute dick. Don’t be a dick.
There’s nothing that makes a parent feel worse about the situation than having someone tell them they are doing a shitty job in the midst of trying to put out a fire. You don’t know their kid. You don’t know their story. You should keep your mouth closed.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort for you to keep your opinion to yourself. But your comment takes a lot out of the parent who is struggling with the child.
Remember that. Also, remember that kids are not mini-adults. Besides, I see more public tantrums, rudeness, and other obnoxious displays from grown ass people than kids. I bet you do too.
This article was originally published on