Yesterday I was in Target (shopping for a new cabinet thing for the bathroom... I bought one but when Patrick took it out of the box to install it today, it turns out there's a huge crack in the top. I hate it when stuff like that happens. Now I have to find the receipt, take it back, find another one: I just want the damn thing on the wall), and in the deodorant aisle when I heard a kid crying.
This was not the cry of a child who was hungry or hurt. This was the cry of a kid who was bored and whiny. Choosing a deodorant took a surprisingly long time, so I listened to the kid for awhile, and then I heard mom, who sounded young, pissed off, and desperate. Their one-sided conversation went something like this:
Mom: "Please stop crying."
Mom: "You have to stop crying."
Mom: "Come on, ______, please stop crying. I can't shop like this."
It went on like this for awhile, and then mom's tone escalated from exasperated to... slightly psycho. And yes, meanwhile, I'm wandering the nearby aisles, browsing the hair removal items.
Mom: "God! Would you be quiet?"
Mom: "What is wrong with you?"
Mom: "Do you want to go home and see daddy?"
[Crying, but with an uplifted, hopeful tone. I suspect the kid was interested in going home and seeing daddy.]
Mom: "If you're quiet I'll get you french fries."
When I first heard all this, and then I saw mom, who was indeed, very young, I was kind of shocked. I'm not doing a very good job of describing just how inappropriate and scary what mom was saying and the way she was saying it was. When I got my first look at her, she was bent over at the waist, very close to her son, who was probably 2 or 3 years old. He was indeed crying. They were real tears, not fake ones, but there also seemed to be something going on here: it took so long (I eventually walked away and paid for my items, and mom was still there, talking to her now sobbing boy), it just felt wrong. But then I got off my high horse, and realized that I've never been in public with a crying baby. I've never had to reason with someone who is unreasonable, who I'm supposed to be protecting and caring for. Personally, I think I would just turn around and take the both of us home and do my shopping another time, but what do I know? She knew everybody in the vicinity, including a security guard who was hanging out in the hair removal item aisle with me, could hear her, and yet she continued to beg, yell (oh, yes, she yelled), and threaten her little boy. She never touched him, and he must've eventually stopped crying.
I know being a parent is something most people are totally unprepared for, I know most people learn as they go that bribing your kid with french fries is a bad idea, I know everybody's different and there probably was no underlying story with these two that I need to be worried about, but let's just say that exchanges like this don't make me any more eager to be somebody's mom.
My cats never cry in public. Never.