I have 3 boys – a 4 year old and twins aged 1. As you can imagine, doing my weekly grocery shopping can be tricky. The first thing I have to do is to go searching for a twin trolley upon arrival. If one isn’t available, I have to get my stroller out, load my boys into it, then juggle a trolley and my stroller down the aisles. How’s that for parenting stress? Perhaps that should be an Olympic sport!
If the parenting stress of 3 children under 5 at the grocery store wasn’t enough, sometimes others choose the wrong moment to pile on
Recently I was lucky enough to have my mum with me as I shopped. She was able to push the trolley while I pushed the stroller with the twins in it, my oldest son sitting on the front. They were happy, and when they’re happy they sometimes squeal with delight and its probably a little mischievous too.
I asked them to settle down as I am aware that not everyone likes to hear the sound of children playing.
I was not prepared for what would happen next
While standing ordering some meat at the deli in the supermarket, a large, imposing gentleman stood over my children in their stroller.
He yelled at them at the top of his voice, “WILL YOU SHUT UP? I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ANOTHER WORD FROM YOU. SHUT UP!”
It was loud enough for people to hear at the front of the store.
I’m sure we’ve all seen and heard about the bullies who intimidate others in their class at school, or those who bully their colleagues at work. Have you ever seen a grown, adult who’s large in stature stand over 3 little boys (remembering the twins are only 1 and my oldest is only 4) and frighten them in such a way to almost have them all in tears?
It went beyond mere parenting stress and was terrifying!
As I write this, I’m still shaking at the mere thought of what occurred. I am not normally a person who is lost for words, however, in this case I was absolutely rendered speechless, as was my mother. At a time when I should have protected my children from such a monster and such a bully, I was so scared myself, I stood and said nothing.
Moments later, I was in tears.
I am writing to share this experience with the hope of creating some understanding. I am not trying to impose my children on anyone else. I raise them with good values and good manners, but yes, they are still children. Yes, they will still do things that may not be to everyone’s liking.
But yes, I still need to buy groceries. If they have done something inappropriate, apologies are in order.
However, in this case they were being playful children. They weren’t running around, they weren’t being rude or disrespectful, and they weren’t being naughty. They were being the young children they are and being as patient as they could while I was doing my shopping.
Here’s the kicker, if anyone had a problem, I would have expected them to come and talk to me
Parenting stress can be felt by others and perhaps my children triggered something in this man about his own situation. But the adult thing to do is to speak to the adult in charge. Not stand over my children and intimidate my children as only a bully knows how. If this gentleman is reading this (I use the term loosely and I very much doubt he is) – Yes, sir – You are a bully!
I would like to end this on a positive note and say the staff at the supermarket were so kind and supportive. From the Branch Manager, the Deli Manager and to the girls at the front checkouts, I really appreciated them all caring enough to ask me if I was OK. They also talked to the man in question about his behaviour. A couple of other mums in the store also offered their support to me and had words with the gentleman.
Without knowing it, they all made the situation so much better by making me feel supported. It aided in lowering the nerves associated with the confrontation and the parenting stress we all feel when someone questions our skills as parents and our children’s behaviour.
For those that are wondering, the “gentleman” did not apologise… but bullies probably never do!