To the woman in the line next to me at IKEA Sunday night:

You saw me with my Girl in the double stroller, & my rambunctious Boy, who was standing on the trolley being attended by my husband. The Boy was playing with a $2 fake flower, and I repeatedly asked him to stop bending it.

I was clearly frustrated, but too wrung out to deal with the fit that would surely happen if I forced him into a stroller.
Finally I said something like, “Come on buddy, please stop that.” He looked me in the eye & said “No, Mommy, I will not stop bending it.” Keeping an even tone I replied “Then I will not only take the flower, but I’ll also spank your bottom for being deliberately defiant.”
I realized as I said it that you were watching and looked over to you. I couldn’t read your expression, and avoiding confrontation I looked down before you had a chance to fully react.
I heard you tell your companion something about my saying “deliberately defiant”, & also something about kids doing whatever they want whenever they want to… but I couldn’t really focus on eavesdropping while I was actively dealing with my kid.
Having been relieved of the flower, Boy was shifting the trolley back & forth and tumbled off onto the concrete, and I watched you almost reach out as he sprang back up like the Tigger he is.
Still trying to avoid the throws of a fit, I was telling Boy that he was going to get strapped into the stroller if he couldn’t settle. But by that hour he couldn’t help but be an impatient kiddo, and finally, struggling and whining, strapped in he was.
That’s when you spoke up.
“Good parenting” you said. I looked up & saw your face was a kind smile. You went on to say you were a school teacher & you knew how hard it was to wrangle little people. You chuckled that sometimes when kids get to school and are wild you wonder “what the heck their parents have been doing.” You repeated that you knew it was hard, but when parents are working on setting limits it makes a big difference when they got to school.
I think I said something like “well, we try…”
And then you said the words we all need to hear: “Well, you’re doing a good job”.
I know I smiled. And then my attention was drawn back to Girl’s call for Foxy, and the Boy not knowing if he wanted a blanky or a stuffy…
You couldn’t know that I worry often about my Boy being thrown out of school for being a feral brat.
You couldn’t know how I had started feeling feverish while we were in the store, or that by that point I had a splitting headache.
You couldn’t know your kindliness was a salve in a moment when I felt like curling up in the stroller and crying.
I made sure to thank you as we left. You were surprised by that. I imagine the moment had passed for you.
But I will onto it, because I can recall your words to help me in moments of chaos.
So to the Teacher I met at the Brooklyn IKEA – Thank you.

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9 thoughts on “To the woman in the line next to me at IKEA Sunday night:

  1. It's amazing how much a simple kind word or compliment can impact a person, isn't it?! I have been there before. At your wits end. All of your composure hanging by a seriously thinning thread. I have also been told I was a great mother and instantly thought “NO I'M NOT!” I think we don't give ourselves enough credit sometimes. Me included. Thanks for sharing this post on #BlogDiggity today! ❤

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  2. I had this happen to me once when I was in the midst of my daughter having an epic fit in Sobeys. Those kind words from a complete stranger made the world of difference to me and came in a moment when I was starting to question my approach.

    Thanks so much for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely day.
    xoxo

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  3. YES! I love hearing about interactions like this, and I sincerely hope to create more of them by encouraging other parents I see. What a win for parenthood. We've gotta stick together! I'm so glad you met someone who encouraged rather than judging. That feels so good, right? And thanks for writing about it, too! Gives me hope. 🙂

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  4. Wow. Doesn't it feel great to have someone that doesn't even know you say you are doing a great job? I mean it feels good for anyone to tell you that whether you know them or not but for someone who doesn't know you to saw it in a moment that you feel like everything is falling apart means the world. We should all do a better job to tell mothers we see out in public things like that.
    Goofball Mommy
    http://www.goofballmommy.com

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  5. I have more than a few of these public moments and they really are life saving. At first you never know if it's going to be a rude comment or an awesome compliment. Im glad she was nice to you. 🙂

    Thank you for joining us on Bloggy Throwback.

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  6. I wish people would comment about the job we are doing as parents more instead of the opposite…kidless idiots telling us how to do it. I am complimented quite a bit when I take my boys out. We run around Target, or Sprouts Market in a wagon, and they sit on opposite sides the way they are supposed to, and people notice. It makes me feel like an awesome Dad, because I know my wife can't do it…lol

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  7. I don't remember the parenting criticisms much, but I do remember clearly the few times someone went out of their way to compliment my parenting. Feels good. Kind words are powerful.

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