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Thursday, December 1, 2011

I am the most annoying mom EVER!

Mama Birth's infamous post "4 Kids, 1 Mom and a Grocery Store - What could go wrong?" got me thinking - and chuckling - about how once you hit the more than two kid threshold, suddenly things like grocery shopping take on new meaning. Whenever I announce to my husband that I'm taking all three kids to the store, he usually looks at me like I've just spoken Chinese and says, "You're doing what?!"

Yeah, I know, I answer. But I don't have a choice because you'll be at X, Y or Z, I say and smile, crossing my eyes like, "Yeah, I'm crazy!"

I can remember times, though (even still), when just having one with me was the pits. Like the time we were in my hoity toity town's supermarket and my kid tried to hurl a soup can at a passerby. Yeah, that went over well. I smiled and moved on. At that point, what else can you do? He didn't mean any harm by it, honest...

One thing I dread while shopping are diaper changes. I've had a few changing table incidents that make me never want to travel with a diapered child until potty training is complete. At Wegman's, I now know that the changing table in one of their locations comes up to about my neck, which means I have to stand on a chair if I actually want to reach my child. I also know that my two-year-old is deathly afraid of changing tables, which doesn't help, especially as he's trying to roll away while strapped in, screaming the entire time and peeing on himself. While lying on his stomach. Try keeping that from flooding everything.

Caution: Messy, loud,
boogery kids behaving NORMALLY.
Usually when I have to take my kids shopping, the youngest is being a doll, charming the pants off everyone, while the older two are up each other's butts and annoying the heck out of me. Oldest will hiss to middle child, "Stop touching that!" and/or insist that whatever she does has to be done his way now or else. They insist on playing hide and seek among the fabric bolts at Jo Ann's, flying out of the end of aisles just as someone innocently strolls by with their shopping cart. A nervous, startled look gets cast my way as I'm sure that person is thinking, "I wish that woman would discipline her children!" I'm sure the lady whose child got a soup can flung at him thought that...

That couldn't be further from the truth, though. I try to teach my kids how to be considerate of other people, to think of their personal space when we're out and about. My husband and I work hard to teach them manners, how to respect other people and not be swing from the rafters at every store we enter. Funny thing, though, I think a lot of other people teach their children the same things, because I don't see a lot of other kids acting like hell on wheels all the time when we're out, contrary to what some say.

While my kids are usually crazy personified when we're all together, individually they're sweet as pie and wonderful. Just the other day, we split up - hubby took the boys to get haircuts, I took middle daughter for groceries and the dollar store. We kept running into the same smiling older man throughout the store, who I could tell got a kick out of seeing my daughter 'helping' and being so angelic. I laughed inwardly and thought, You really think she's like this all the time? hahahahaha as we stood staring at the lobster tank together. Oh, how I wish!

Yesterday I took youngest tot into the store for toilet paper, and while he is usually heavily confined in a shopping cart, this time he held my hand. I've done little tests like this with him to see how he does, often admiring those other moms who have the guts to let their little ones trail along behind them while shopping with the reasonable expectation that they'll stay there and not go anywhere. Yesterday Tater Tot passed with flying colors, but if the other two were there? He'd probably be straddling the top shelf of the candy aisle, or ready to head for the parking lot with some other family. This is why I so often used an umbrella stroller rather than a sling or carrier when I had all three - because sprinting while slinging a baby is just not all that comfortable. Sorry.

I've read numerous articles that restaurants are banning children. Some are charging extra for babies that can't even eat solid foods yet and are exclusively breastfed. Their strollers take up room, they say, and charge them a fee. Great. What if that were a wheelchair? What if it were an obese person who is larger than an average adult? Do we charge them extra because they "take up space?" How cruel.

I've read tirades from writers that can't stand how your brats act on airplanes, and equally inane comments from readers who agree with policies that babies and their parents should be relegated to the backs of airplanes. One dad did say that when you adopt the herd mentality with crying infants, it helps you to feel like you're not the only one. Perhaps, but it makes me think that people who otherwise can't stand kids are ganging up on parents who are just trying to make the best of a difficult situation. They act like they think we were all born as 30-year-olds, and honestly, when I look around, I wonder - where are these kids? I don't see them, crawling all over the place and behaving badly. We can't always assume that the public tirades we do see from kids are a result of bad parenting or lack of discipline. We all have our bad days - even adults (who I regularly see flipping others off, cutting in line, swearing in public, etc...)

For the most part, when we're out in public people are usually sympathetic. Several older ladies often smile and nod, one toddling up to me to take me aside and tell me about her six kids. I enjoy hearing from these people because it gives me some perspective: I don't know how they did it in the days before strollers and other conveniences that often make our lives a little easier (and make us look a little more like a sherpa).

Because I care that my kids might theoretically be bothering someone, I'm often reciting endlessly, "Watch out for other people" when my son wants to try his hand at steering the cart. Usually this goes badly and we skid into the glass doors of the frozen foods case. I'm waiting for the day when he accidentally mows over another human being and I have to explain my case. In typical two-year-old fashion, my youngest often chooses one song to sing over and over at top volume for the entire duration of our trip, which might elicit chuckles, smiles, raised eyebrows or a compliment or two. One woman rounded the corner and came over to us, and I thought, Oh no. Here it comes. She pleasantly surprised me by saying cheerfully, "We were standing all the way over there (points to some unseen, faraway location) and I just had to find out where the singing was coming from!" Well then. You've found it!

It's often occurred to me that really, the only person my kids are bothering is me. All my hissing, correcting, scolding and mothering probably sounds like a broken record, I often think, and I wonder, "Am I the annoying one here?" Sometimes when I'm about to scold my oldest for something, I literally have to tell myself, "Stop it. He's not really doing anything wrong. Stop crawling up his butt about every little thing." I don't want my children to behave like little heathens, but really, I know I discipline my kids the best way I can; I can't help it if people judge me based on one encounter when they don't see the big picture.

This was confirmed to me one day when I asked my energetic duo, "Why are you two being so loud?" thinking of other people around us who might be annoyed.

"Because they're children," a perfect stranger said to me as he turned around and looked at us.

Point taken.


K said...

It's all perspective. I have 9 children with the tenth arriving in a few months. Obviously taking my big kids (18,17,14...) out is a non-issue. At this point it is a treat to spend time with them as they are so busy, especially the older two. Even taking 2 or 3 kids isn't a big deal. Things don't start getting hairy until I am up to 4 and that 4 includes the 3 year old. Taking one baby, toddler or preschooler?...again, almost like taking out a big kid. It's fun. I honestly get bored if I am out by myself maybe with the exception of the fabric store. I can spend forever browsing and kids just aren't terribly patient with mom fondling fabric and flipping through quilting magazines.

K said...

I forgot my point.....
I may not find 2,3,4 littles overwhelming now but when I went from 1-2,2-3,3-4...when I had no choice but to take them everywhere with me... and I had what turned out to be a child on the spectrum who was Houdini..I was feeling just as overwhelmed and crazy as DH and MB. Those times don't last forever though.

The Deranged Housewife said...

Your comments crack me up - namely forgetting your point (I do that all the time! LOL) and "fondling fabric." Yeah, I know. I still have this notion in my head that they'll smile and nod when I ask them to do things. LOL Pipe dream!

MB said...

Strangely enough I was scolded by my own Mother for this today. She was like all you've done is yell at your two beautiful sweet kids. Never mind my daughter was clearly ignoring the I am on the phone rule and screaming and my son was about to dismantle my computer. Some days they are great other days I need a drink. They are kids but it's our job to mold them into productive and civil people.

The Deranged Housewife said...

Yes.... and when that fails, we say "The beatings will continue until morale improves." LOL (You know I'm joking....) :P