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.
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.