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Unexpected Heroes Help Mom Amid Her Toddler’s Grocery-Store Meltdown

"These ladies have presumably been out of the trenches for years but still remembered a time that they were once in my shoes and banded together to support us through a tough moment."
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published February 16, 2024
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Image: Smolina Marianna | Shutterstock

Being the parent to a toddler comes with some practice in dealing with embarrassment and judgment. Despite your best efforts, there will be days when your little one seems to unravel at the slightest provocation, launching into a tantrum without warning. Amid the tears and screams, you’re likely to get some looks. But one mom is lucky enough to share her story of compassion, not judgment, after a recent grocery store meltdown.

“We live outside of a notoriously unfriendly retirement community. Our experiences here with our toddler have so far been overwhelmingly positive…but anytime my toddler engages in run-of-the-mill toddler chaos in public, I’m always paranoid that a few of the bad eggs will be lurking nearby, waiting to make a remark,” the poster shared on the subreddit r/Mommit.

She goes on to describe a recent trip to the grocery store with her two-year-old, who “had his very own quarter and was so excited to help me pay for the groceries.” After walking around the store as a “big boy,” things quickly devolved when mom insisted on keeping him from pulling the plastic price cards off of the front of the coolers and snapping them back on.

The ensuing meltdown found her toddler kicking, screaming, and trying to wiggle away. “When we made it to the register, there were 5-6 older ladies in the general vicinity, and I could feel all eyes on us,” she noted. “I realized I would have to put him in the cart (still kicking and screaming), so that I could load the groceries onto the counter. I knew this was only going to escalate the situation.”

But to her surprise, when she turned back to clear space for her son, there was already “a nice older lady” unloading her groceries. “She didn’t say a word, just placed them at the register and gave me a small smile once we’d finished,” she added. “From the next register over, I could hear two older ladies whispering amongst themselves, ‘Bless her. We’ve all been there before.’ At this point, I was about to cry from the combination of anxiety and overall support from everyone around us.”

By the time everyone had pitched in, her toddler had gotten it together in time to give the cashier his quarter and go about his day with all smiles from there on. But the kindness kept coming.

“As we were walking out of the store, another older woman stopped us. She handed my son a quarter to replace the one he’d given the cashier and said, “I saw him helping you throughout the store. He did such a good job. Keep being a good listener for your Mama,” the original poster shared.

“I got in the truck and had a good cry. I’ve felt more judgment and less support in actual mom groups and toddler play times- from people who are still navigating these waters. These ladies have presumably been out of the trenches for years but still remembered a time that they were once in my shoes and banded together to support us through a tough moment,” she said closing out the post.

In the comments, parents and others from around the platform chimed in with their support and appreciation for those who showed compassion. “This made me tear up. I’m so glad you were supported in that moment. And not only you, but the sweet nod to your son and understanding that he is little and is not going to have regulated emotions all the time. This is how it should always be,” added one user.

“Yes, I hear so many bad stories about the older generation being rude to younger parents, but in real life experiences I’ve had, they have always offered to help. Old men seeing me carrying a baby and a toddler offering to carry my things, an older woman commenting on how sweet my son was, many older people trying to make my kids laugh when they’re being difficult,” wrote another.

If you are dealing with some difficult toddler tantrums, know that you aren’t alone and you’ll get through it. In the meantime, check out some of these doctor and parent-approved ways to cope. You got this!

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