You know how those kids who throw tantrums in public, plus their mums who completely ignoring them, get on your nerves? Especially at the supermarket! And you know how you look at the lady, thinking to yourself… ‘Oh God, not now… not today! Is she going to make it shut up, or then at least give it whatever it is it wants!’… you know how you react like that? Well, not long ago I was exactly like you. I never understood why she didn’t just punch that kid on the face, get it over and done with!… How could she let that naughty brat embarrass her in front of all those people and disturb everyone’s peace? And why didn’t she look at all bothered by the situation? Well, if someone had walked up to me then, and told me that ‘she’ would be me one day… I seriously would have laughed at them… ‘don’t be ridiculous!’, I would have said. As it turns out, joke’s on me.

Being a mum is one of the toughest jobs ever!…Wait, correction – IT IS the toughest job ever! See, a child throws a tantrum wherever, whenever, and for whatever reason. And there’s no prior ‘tantrum notice’ served either! I remember, not long after Imani started school, she threw this huge tantrum one morning. Manu usually dropped her at school, but on this particular day, he had to be at work earlier than usual, so I had the honors, we left home, got to school – all happy, all fine… or so I thought, out of no way… the mother of all tantrums! Reason? She wanted Papa to drop her at school, not me! Another time, at dinner – she doesn’t like her peas green… she prefers them white, they are less spicy??? – excuse me, what??? And am not talking silent, contained sobs, no!… these were full blown, screaming, pulling-hair, tearing-off-clothes, devil-possessed tantrums! And for what?

Anyway, where was I?… Oh yeah, supermarket lady! See, when that kid is screaming his lungs out, and she is completely ignoring… stop looking at her like she’s an evil, sadist, who’s ‘letting her own child cry so hard, and not even attempting to soothe him’. Please, just don’t do. You have no idea what her day has been like. This tantrum you’re witnessing, at 11.23 am, is probably the 57th tantrum of the day… and it’s not yet noon!! That mum is not ignoring her child because she doesn’t care. She is not evil, nor a sadist. She is not ignoring that child because she doesn’t love him… she loves him with all her might… and some! You know why she can’t be bothered? Do you also want to know why she’s completely ignoring YOUR judgmental looks?… For her sanity! Yes, all she is trying to do… fighting to do, is to remain sane!

What you don’t know is that, this lady probably has 2 more children waiting at home, plus a bloody dog, a house to keep tidy, laundry to do, dinner to prepare, a job she doesn’t even like, mortgage to pay, she has a horrid flu – but can’t take a day off from the kids to just lay in bed – those days don’t exist for mums! Plus, her youngest probably knocked over and broke the last bottle of her favourite wine that same morning, while fighting with the brother, and the damn supermarket doesn’t have it in stock anymore!

So cut the lady some slack, she has a lot to deal besides that tantrum… and your unsolicited sneers! Instead, try offer a sympathetic smile, the kind of smile that says, ‘I totally understand.’ If you’re the shopper who just took the last bottle of the wine she was after – give it to her, let her have it… heck, offer to pay for it! That’s the least you could do for bitching about her parental skills! Better yet, put down your shopping basket and go over there, punch that kid! NO!.. am kidding on this one – (don’t go round punching people’s kids, then blame it on me). Just walk over, ask the mum, calmly, if you can try ‘a trick’ you know to work for tantrums, if you get the green light, give the kid a ‘gentle scolding’… tell him his mum is very tired, and sad that he’s being whinny. Tell him that he’ll make her very happy if he calmed down. Try using the Santa trick, tell him Santa has started his list, and it would be a pity if he wasn’t on the ‘nice kids’ list. Kids tend to listen more easily to strangers that they do their own parents.

If your attempts fail, and the kid continues screaming, at least you will have tried. And guess who’s day you’ll have made just a bit better… even if just for the remainder of the supermarket trip?… the lady with the screaming child at the supermarket! You’ll have made her feel a tad better… and you know why? Because, she will know there’s one less pair of eyes judging her.

And then punch the kid, right on the nose! – Still a joke obviously 🙂






8 comments on “Tantrums! Sympathise, or mind your own business!”

  1. Surprisingly enough what I get on the street is people smiling, and some people even laughing with the tantrum. Not making fun, but totally understanding kind of “oh yeah, I have been there” old lady kind of laugh.

    It’s not only for sanity that you keep quite, if you start to give to the tantrums there are a few things that will happen, but the one I’m most afraid of is that your kid making the link between crying/tantrum/being a bastard and reward (they can pee in the bed until 4 but that they learn that right off the bat), and the cycle will be very difficult to break. Also, maybe the tantrum is because of something else and not necessarily what they are asking, if you give in right away, you wont be able to get to the bottom of it.

    Thanks for this my eternal neighbour 🙂

    • Completely agree Sarah, it’s not because you don’t care about the tantrum, it’s because you don’t want to make it a habit. Thanks for the lovely comment 🙂

  2. Great read! Was on a bus once with a child that was kicking the mum but I wasn’t judging the mum, I was looking at the child and thinking if I was in Zambia, I would have smacked the kid and gotten away with it because that’s how we were raised…even the neighbour had a right to scold me if I misbehaved, then I remembered I was in Belgium…. After a few minutes of hearing the kid whining and kicking her mum, I told the kid to quit it and he stopped, the mum didn’t say anything but I think she was shocked. I think you can only intervene depending on the situation..

  3. I love your sense of humor throughout this post. Definitely gave me a great laugh. But I definitely agree with you! I know I’ve been that mama in the supermarket MANY of times. It would have been nice to have some compassion from others instead of everyone staring and judging your parenting skills!

  4. Being a mum is the most difficult job in the world and it doesn’t end even when they grow up!
    You can only do the best that you can.

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