When I go to the grocery store, I leave the produce section for last. Evidently, you stop there first. So when I arrived today and turned the corner to start down my preferred aisle to start shopping, you were right in front of me. We followed very similar paths through the entire store, so I was behind you the whole time.
That means I heard your two adorable boys through the whole store. The smaller one, in the cart, didn’t say much. He was cute though. The bigger one was easier to hear as I walked. Sometimes he was even louder than my own two.
I heard him at his best, in the beginning. When he thanked you for buying all this stuff so he could have a party. He called you the “best Mommy ever”. It was adorable.
Somewhere around the granola bars, I heard it when you first let the stress get the better of you. You did that heavy sigh, a warning. “Alex, please stop asking for things.” It got my attention, but not for the reason you think.
An aisle later, in juice, I heard him ask for something else. I cringed for you, knowing how much that can hurt. I turned the corner in time to hear you. “Alex, please stop. I am throwing a birthday party with 12 of your friends coming.” I saw the panic cross your face. Did you really say 12? You grabbed another bottle of juice.
I lost you for awhile here, probably because I had to wind through the “boring” aisles full of soap and toilet paper while you were shopping for a party. As I pulled out of the deodorant aisle, Alex’s little voice caught my attention from the cookie aisle in front of me. “But people at parties like cookies, Mommy.”
You sighed, again. But something inside you must have agreed with his reasoning. I saw you grabbed the loaf of gluten free bread from your cart. I’m not sure if it was a treat for you or because someone attending the party had an allergy. I’m guessing it was the former, because after weighing it in your hand for a minute you asked Alex to go put it back. While he was gone (two aisles over) I saw you drop the cookies into your cart.
As I was walking through the frozen foods, I heard you again. “Alexander Michael, that is enough.” I don’t know where you were or what he said to provoke you. But it got my attention.
I finished produce and pulled up to the single open lane just in time to see you reach out with your hand and smack Alex firmly on the bottom. He dropped the candy he had been holding back into the display. Your eyes came up and landed on mine. I saw the blush cross your face, the panic in your eyes. I get it. People tell me I wear the teacher expression all the time. You were worried. You were terrified that I was judging you for spanking your son.
I should’ve told you. I don’t judge you at all. You did everything right. More importantly, Alex will be fine. He was pushing the boundaries and you showed him where they were.
My daughter, about Alex’s same age, engaged him in conversation while we were bagging our groceries. He doesn’t think less of you for spanking him, and neither do I (not that it should matter what another Mom thinks of you). In fact, when you turned to leave and for those few seconds he wasn’t with you…he was asking my daughter if she was going to have a party for her birthday too.
“I don’t know,” she told him, shrugging.
“I’m sure you can if your Mommy is cool like mine. She’s the best Mom ever.”
Smart kid you have there, Mom. You’re doing a good job. Just thought you should know.
The Lady in the Grocery Store