Whining Smackdown

Last night, Catie and I went to the grocery store, figuring that it would be a ghost town during the SuperBowl. (I don’t care about football or sports at all. Sorry, I’ve tried, I just can’t make myself muster up an interest.) Apparently a lot of other people had the same idea, so it wasn’t quite as deserted as I’d hoped, but whatever. Time to shop!

Catie asked if we could get the cart that has that stupid plastic car attached to the front, and I said ok, even though it’s like steering a freaking bus down the aisles. She was really good in the store, she would hop out of the car to get things off the shelf for me (“Hey, don’tcha need spinach, Mommy? Can I get some? What else is on the list? I’ll get it, I’m a good helper!”), and she wasn’t bugging me to buy her toys or junk food. When you’re shopping with a four year-old, that’s about as much as you can ask for.

And really, it was about a 10,000% improvement compared to how she acted when we’d gone to the mall the day before. Which I will always remember as the tantrum that was so epic that an on-duty police officer came over to us to ask if we were ok. Seriously. That actually happened.

Love that face.
Who, me? Act naughty in a public place? Surely you jest! Why, don’t I look angelic?

We passed a mom that was shopping with her two girls – I’m guessing they were 5 or 6 years old, and they were obviously twins. They took one look at our cart and started in on their mother, “Mooo-ooom! That little girl got a car cart! How come WE didn’t get a car cart?? That’s not fair!!” I smiled sympathetically at the mom, and kept walking.

Later, when we were in the bakery section, Catie mentioned she was hungry, and asked if she could have a cookie. We were at Kroger, and they usually have a box of cookies out in the bakery for the little kids to have one. I tend not to get too uptight about the occasional treat, and since Catie was being so well-behaved, I said sure, and grabbed a cookie for her.

As luck would have it, we passed the mom with her twin girls again. They started up again, “Mooo-ooom! That little girl has a cookie! How come WE didn’t get a cookie?? We want a cookie! No fair! COOKIE COOKIE COOKIE!!!” They were like twin Veruca Salts with the whining. I kind of felt sorry for the mom, but I noticed that she didn’t respond to the kids at all when they whined, so I wondered if she hears it so much that she just tunes it out. I don’t think I could tune it out. There’s a certain pitch that little girls can hit with their voices that makes me feel like my head is going to explode. Catie has only tried it on me a few times, and it’s gotten her nowhere (the only reaction she gets from me is, “Try saying that again politely, and maybe I’ll answer you.”), so she seems to have given up on it.

Of course we passed each other two or three more times (why, God, why?), and they repeated their complaint about Cookie Injustice every time. By the last time we passed them, we were on our way to the checkout, and Catie had long since finished the damn cookie. That didn’t stop them. “That’s the little girl that had the cookie! We want a cookie too!” And so on.

Now, I generally have a rule about interfering with other people’s children. And the rule is: I don’t. I wouldn’t appreciate it if someone did it to me, so I don’t do it to anyone else. But I felt so bad for this mom, she seemed so worn out by these kids and their non-stop whining, and… well, I couldn’t resist.

So I turned to the girls and interrupted their little complaint-fest. I said, “You know why she got a cookie? Because she was really good the whole time we were in the store, and she never whined once.”

Both girls snapped their mouths shut. The mom said to them, “You see? THAT’S what it takes if you want a cookie!”

I hope the mom wasn’t offended (and I’m guessing by her reaction and the smile she gave me that she wasn’t). But I figure I bought her at least 30 seconds of shocked silence from her kids, so I’ll call that a win.

It does make me a little nervous about having two girls, though. If they both crank up the whining on me at the same time, I don’t know how I’ll react. Maybe my head really will explode. Who knows.

one sad, one funny

Two stories for you.

1. The Sad.

When I picked up Catie at daycare yesterday, she ran to me sort of whimpering and buried her face in my legs. Normally she’s happy to see me, so this was unusual. I raised an eyebrow at her teacher, and she kind of whispered to me, “Clara hit her.”

Here’s the thing. Clara is a very sweet little girl with a pretty major developmental delay. I don’t know exactly what’s wrong with her. She doesn’t have Down’s Syndrome but it’s something on par with that. She’s older than the rest of the kids in her class (she’s already 4), but she’s still in diapers and just learning “bye-bye” and basic vocabulary stuff. She goes to a special-ed school during the day, so she’s only at the daycare for an hour or so in the afternoons until her parents get off work and pick her up.

The thing is, Clara can be very rough without meaning to be. None of it is ill-intentioned, she’s a really sweet-natured kid. But, like, today for example, while I was there, I saw a little girl with cute little blonde ringlet curls, and Clara ran over and yanked on the little girl’s hair. Which made her cry. But Clara wasn’t being mean, it’s like she was trying to pet the little girl or treat her like a baby doll. She doesn’t realize that she can hurt the other kids. So how do you discipline a child when she honestly has no concept that she’s done anything wrong?

The problem on this occasion, though? Was that Clara hit Catie in the face.

When we got home, Catie mentioned that her mouth hurt where Clara hit her. I looked inside her mouth and saw that she had a cut on the inside of her lip where her tooth dug into it. So obviously Clara hit Catie in the face pretty damn hard.

I didn’t know how to react to that. I wanted to cry. On the one hand, somebody hurt my baby, and that brings out the whole mama bear instinct. On the other hand, my heart breaks for this little girl who’s got an entire lifetime of obstacles and challenges ahead of her. I try to imagine myself in her parents’ place, and… oof. I cannot even begin to imagine what their day-to-day life is like.

Catie’s way of processing things is to talk about it over and over again. So we talked about it several times, and I told her that while it wasn’t nice that Clara hit her, that Clara has a hard time understanding right and wrong, so we can’t be mad at her because she didn’t know what she was doing. I said that if Clara gets too rough again, she needs to tell her to stop, and if she doesn’t stop, then she needs to tell her teacher. I absolutely don’t want to tell my daughter to avoid the special-needs kid in her class, because I think that sets an unhealthy precedent. I’m not sure how else to handle the situation. This is all completely foreign territory for me.

Later that night, Catie and I were practicing drawing her letters. I helped her get started, then I went to wash dishes. She called me and said she had something to show me. I walked over, and saw that she had flipped to a new piece of paper, and she had drawn a perfect tear-drop shape. She said, “That’s the tears I cried when Clara hit me.” I wanted to lie down on the floor and sob. I just don’t know how to explain this on a level that a 3 year-old can understand.

I talked to both the daycare director and Catie’s teacher about it today, since they had no idea that the hit was so hard that it cut her lip. (It was a small cut, it probably didn’t bleed much or a very noticeable amount.) I didn’t ask them to do anything about it, I don’t want to cause any problems for Clara’s family, I just wanted them to be aware of the situation in case it happens more frequently and becomes a problem later on down the road. I didn’t know what else to do, really.

So, yeah. Anybody out there have any experiences like this? Words of wisdom? I’ll take whatever I can get.

2. Now for the funny (which is needed after all that).

I almost had the most awkward conversation with a grocery store cashier, ever.

The cashier guy rang up all my stuff and was starting to put it all in bags. Among my purchases was an econo-size HUGE box of tampons. (Don’t judge me. I buy in bulk. It saves money.) I was already self-conscious about that, because you know, it’s a dude ringing me up and apparently I’m still 13 and this whole menstruation thing is all new to me.

(Seriously, self. It’s been going on for over 20 years now. Time to get used to it.)

In an effort to make conversation, the guy says, “So, big fans of the Crimson Tide, huh?”

I was putting my wallet back in my purse when he said this, but my jaw dropped and I whipped my head around and I was about to say, “I’m sorry, WHAT?!?!!” Because OMG, how offensive can you possibly get, right?

Then I realized he was pointing at Catie’s big stuffed elephant that she was carrying with her. And I remembered that Alabama’s mascot is the elephant. And their football team is called the Crimson Tide.

I mumbled, “Oh. Uh. Not really, she just likes elephants.”

And then I died of embarrassment. The End.