The Crazy Mom Screaming In Target Doesn’t Seem So Crazy Anymore

shutterstock_91669052__1393857871_142.196.167.223My first child is three-years-old. I thought for sure by now I would have “the look” down. I thought I would be able to control his little 35-pound butt. Nope.

He’s not terrible – he’s a three-year-old. He’s all about instant gratification and he basically just wants to do whatever he wants at all times. If I wanted to raise a monster – I could just let him go about on his merry way, giving into every inane request he has. Unfortunately, I really feel like it’s my responsibility to do my best to not unleash a selfish, screaming, Tazmanian devil into the world. These are trying times.

It’s not that he acts out all day; he’s really great about 75 percent of the time. It’s that 25 percent that is the killer. All I can do is hope that it happens when we are in the privacy of our own home. When it happens in public – it’s the worst. I’m pretty sure I have my karma child because of the way I used to look down the end of my nose at women who had unruly toddlers. Life is fair like that – if you are a smug asshole about anything, it usually comes back at you three-fold.

Now, I’m not one of those mothers that let’s my child act out and doesn’t fully immerse herself in trying to stop it. If we’re in a restaurant, I make a quick exit. If we’re on a plane, I order another drink try my best to talk him down. But there is a situation where I refuse to back down; I am not leaving a fully stocked cart in Target because my child is having a melt down. Not doing it. Do you know how hard it is to get an infant and a toddler to Target and reach things on the low shelves with a child strapped to your chest and one pulling at everything in arm’s reach in the cart? It’s like the suburban version of American Gladiators. If I have spent the better part of an hour doing that, I am not surrendering to anyone.

Because I have finally found my boundaries – the line that you cannot push me over, I am starting to understand all of those moms at Target I used to chuckle at. I distinctly remember laughing at the parents I overheard saying things like, “Mommy doesn’t like it when you hit her.” I’d be thinking “Ha! Great parenting, lady! You sound ridiculous.” Now I get it. You say stupid things like that hoping to lock eyes with your child long enough to transmit the subliminal “I will kill you” message. It rarely works. Your kid knows you’re a sucker.

What about the mom who has finally just lost it? She doesn’t even care who hears her or is watching anymore. She’s all wild-eyed and doing the whisper-scream thing. I always thought those mothers needed anger management or something. Ha! I’ve just defaulted to being that woman. Judge me all you want. I’m not mouthing passive-aggressive niceties to a tyrant toddler hoping he’ll spare me the embarrassment of showing how really fucking hard parenting can be.

I’m sorry to all the crazy screaming moms in Target I’ve judged in the past. I now join your ranks.

(photo: Everett Collection/ Shutterstock)

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  • Crusty Socks

    What’s the FDA recommended dosage of Valium for 3 yr olds?

    • Valerie

      I’m telling you-Benadryl lollipops. There is a market for that shit.

      And Valium was one of my nicknames in college.

  • Ally

    Love this! And yes….I used to be the smug, judging one looking down on those moms w/ unruly toddlers (pre-kids, of course). And now I, too, have my karma kid…my 4 y.o son can raise holy hell and there is often nothing I can do to stop it! I have definitely not yelled in Target per se, but I have been stern enough to get looks from other mothers. What kills me still is the moms who have children like my “spirited boy” who, in the throes of a meltdown, give in to the badgering/whining and bad behavior and get him a toy!?! I will say that I am not above bribery at all, but the kid HAS to produce first. I will happily give him a piece of candy or a $1 trinket AFTER a successful mission to Target. But you scream/yell/whine/beg/tantrum during the adventure, then that ship has SAILED, sonny. I will endure the consequences of that line in the sand because I simply cannot understand rewarding that kind of behavior.

    • Valerie

      Here here. I have a Karma Kid too. I was so fucking smug with my daughter and then my son came along and made me look so inept in every parenting scenario. I would do anything to get thru a public outing with him. Annnnything. Of course I don’t let him run the show but I have been known to keep a Threat Toy from the dollar bin in the cart that is only his after we get thru the checkout lane without any issues.

    • Ally

      I love your honesty about your parenting experiences! I learned the term “SMOG” over the past few months (Smug Mothers Of Girls) and I soooo felt surrounded by these mama’s when I had only my son (first born) who has always been beyond difficult. Now I have a daughter too and she is SOO easy. I joke with my hubby that if we had our kids in reverse order, I would probably have been a SMOG as well (and would for sure be in an institution from being traumatized by my son!). Hang in there with your boy. I hear that they get easier as they get older? Still waiting on that, but holding out hope! :)

    • SunnyD847

      My daughter was not the quiet stereotypical “good girl.” People would often look askance and say things like “wow, she’s really…energetic, isn’t she?” Which I learned was code for “your kid is crazy!” I think she’s awesome and now that she’s a teen we’re not experiencing typical “girl drama”which is nice.

    • TinLizzie

      I was going to say something like that too. I was definitely not the best behaved girl when I was a toddler. Also, as a teacher, I’ve noticed girls cause trouble in their own, often quieter, ways. Lucy from the Peanuts (bossy and wants to be the center of attention) is very common in kindergarten girls. I’ve had one in every class I’ve taught.

    • Maria Guido

      SMOG – i love it. My first is a boy and those moms drove me nuts. Now I have a girl who is so easy, too! I know it’s a stereotype, but damn if it isn’t true in my family.

    • Valerie

      It’s very true in mine. She is so easy-going and kind and plays quietly on her own. And then there’s my son, zooming around the house pretending to be a ninja and breaking shit. Sometimes stereotypes exist for a reason- because they are so often true.

    • MellyG

      I like that you don’t give in – i admire that.

      I worry about having a karma kid, but karma from MY mother, not me. She claims i never had tantrums, at least not in public. At home, well, that’s a different story. The thing i did in public that drove her nuts – i either hid under racks, ran away from her and read or looked through magazines, or pretended i was a mannequin, standing quietly with a mannequin group and posing. The thing is – NONE of these things bothered other shoppers, just my poor mother that couldn’t find me.

      I once asked her HOW she managed this, she said i always took no for an answer, she doesn’t know what she did.

      So fantastic – i’m going to get the kid that screams bloody murder for everything, throws tantrums at target a the drop of a hat and neither my mother or I will have ANY clue how to stop that behavior.

  • sweetgotham

    Don’t let the commentators over at the STFU Parents facebook page see this; your heathen of a toddler is *nothing* compared to the tantrums tossed by the wonderful world of people who think the the mere existence of any children is a personal affront and anyone who has them needs to chain themselves to the radiator along with their child least their Target experience is ruined…RUINED!! people’s crotchfruit.

    Seriously, why why why do I read the FB comments? The ones on mommyish’s STFU parents posts are nothing like those.

    • Andrea

      I stopped reading those and frequenting that page. It started all
      fun, and I joined the ranks of having a good chuckle at the
      sanctimommies, the martyr mommies, all the mommies we make fun of around

      But at some point, it went south for me. The comments
      started to get more and more judgey, the tone more and more pissy
      towards parents, and the general atmosphere was that it is a given that
      parents are entitled assholes and we should all ban together and make
      fun of them at every possible opportunity. I am kinda over it.
      Like the term crotchfruit for instance, I mean seriously man. That’s just wrong.

    • Ally

      I agree! I used to love it but now I am over it. I think it is especially difficult b/c Blair is childless so she simply cannot understand some things. Most of the time, she gets it right, but there are times when she thinks something is “over the top” that is actually just a part of parenting (like going to great lengths to protect a child’s nap so you don’t have to suffer consequences later). Anyway, I bet she (and many others who comment there who are childless) will want to take some of that back if they ever have kids. Kind of can’t blame them….I was pretty clueless too before the “cherubs” arrived!

    • Guest

      She is childless, not an idiot. She will not grasp every detail of parenting, no, but if they want to point out how ridiculous it is to yell at your neighbors for cutting grass mid-afternoon because it is Junior’s nap time then she is welcome to… because that is effin ridiculous and those parents need to STFU

    • MellyG

      I as just going to say something similar – protecting nap time is not the same as going so overboard that you’re asking delivery people not to come, or neighbors down the street not to do yard work. Also, expose your kids to noise, they’ll sleep better :)

    • guest

      Best advice my Dad ever gave me was to make noise when your kids are sleeping. They will learn to sleep through everything. It is so simple it is ridiculous. Meanwhile I see my fb friends buying these little door holders that keep the door from making any noise when they shut it after putting the kid down and all I can foresee (and do see, it is fb) are many sleepless nights for them.

    • rrlo

      The kids MAY get used to a noisy environment but they may not. Plus not all of us are willing to ride out the months of “adjusting to noisy environment” to see if eventually they do get used it. This is one of those old school advice that sound like a great idea but suck when trying to implement.

    • Ally

      Yes. YES. This. So much THIS!!!!! :)

    • Ally

      I don’t ask the delivery people not to come, but I do ask that they simply leave the packages and not ring the doorbell. Imagine this – the 4 year old is quietly resting. 2 year old is finally napping and third trimester pregnant ME is trying to settle down for a MUCH needed few minutes of sleep. All of a sudden the doorbell rings with yet ANOTHER package from Amazon (they come daily), which gets the 2 dogs barking, waking up the whole house and disturbing the only shot at rest we have all day. We are all cranky and miserable. Are you seriously saying that you cannot empathize with this situation and think it is unreasonable to take measures to ensure this doesn’t happen day after day? A simple note on the door to the delivery man to leave packages and refrain from using the doorbell solves the problem. So am I a crazy lady from STFU parents that everyone gets to make fun of? Or am I just a tired Mama trying to catch a little rest?

    • MellyG

      Well, a note is not unreasonable – what i see on STFU is people venting to facebook about how a delivery guy (for a package YOU ordered, HE/SHE is just doing their job, ya know?) ruined their life, or the neighbor that is “evil” for mowing the lawn. I’ve never seen anyone begrudge a parent a polite, the key word being POLITE, note on a door. I’ve done that myself, for non napping reasons.

      It’s not that others don’t empathize, it’s that it seems that some (not necessarily you, you’ve seemed quite reasonable, i see nothing wrong with a polite note) parents want the world to stop because their baby is napping. Doesn’t work that way. I get frequent migraines, that are severe and debilitating. Yes, it sucks when i get one, and noise from outside- construction, lawn work, loud traffic, whatever – makes dealing with the migraine more difficult. However, i can’t ask other people to stop their jobs -its’ my problem, not theirs, ya know?

      THAT is what i’ve seen being mocked on STFU

    • Karen Milton

      A note makes perfect sense and would be the normal way to do things – my husband works permanent nights and we have one on our doorbell asking visitors to knock, not ring the bell during the day. It’s the people who don’t have a note but still manage to justify a tantrum about how daytime delivery people should just stop and THINK, because it’s obviously nap time and they should pay attention and just know that that are ridiculous.

    • Karen Milton

      I’m a regular commenter there, and ‘clueless’ is relative. I think, for example, that going to any great lengths to protect a nap is completely silly and, yes, clueless – they’ll nap or they won’t, it’s not a life or death situation. It’s not even mildly important.

      People without kids simply don’t have kids; they’re not idiots. Some of the best parenting advice comes from people who don’t have kids of their own – they’re often able to have a broader perspective and view of the world. Discounting an entire group’s thoughts based on who has or has not had any uterine occupants is really narrow. We can all learn from one another – just take the things in that are pertinent and leave the rest.

    • rrlo

      I liked STFU parents precisely for those reasons. But I am beginning to think it is becoming rather mean and unnecessarily judgmental.
      It is the leap from behaviour to judgment that is celebrated a bit too much on the STFU Parents that bother me. And I find the commentators take it too far sometimes.
      I thought about it and overall ridiculing those that cannot defend themselves is looking less and less like a fun thing.

    • Karen Milton

      I’ll agree that those types of things you describe are definitely becoming more common, and not exactly slowly. When I read new posts I often decide ahead of time which ones I’ll get into the comment section of and which I’ll avoid – anything about restaurants or airplanes I skip, for example.

    • Ally

      Nope. Sorry, no kids=no opinion. I would never dare assume that I can speak with authority on a topic with which I have no experience. That is ignorant. As for the nap topic – until you have experienced first hand the consequences of a nap cut too short and/or struggled to find the one special trick that works for your kid to sleep only to have it disrupted, you simply have no idea what you are talking about. You don’t get it. You haven’t lived it. I don’t blame you. I would not have “gotten it” pre-kids either. But you are the one being narrow.

    • Karen Milton

      Yeah, I have two kids, one of whom is now a teenager, so in fact I do “get it”. I’m just not self-centred enough to decide who has a valid opinion and who doesn’t without first hearing what they have to say.

    • rrlo

      Me too! The latest tirade on the names people give their children for instance really bugged me.

      Yes, some names are weird. But unless you’re going to come into my house and pay for my kids shit – STFU about what I name them!!!!

    • Zettai

      I’m not going to act like I haven’t hated on some names before, either in a joking tone or not, but I couldn’t read that article at all. Just the title told me about the harshness inside, and I am starting to hate the term “Yoonique” because of its connotations.

      If being pregnant for 9 months and popping out a kid doesn’t give you the right to name them something you like, then I don’t know what does. No more name-hating for me.

    • Ddaisy

      I must respectfully disagree, simply because it’s not yourself you’re saddling with that name. It’s another living, breathing human being who’s going to have to go through life as Vadgesty Foximaiden or whatever it was.

      If a parent-to-be really loves “Maddisyyn Brynleigh” so much, they can change their own name to that, and see how they like it.

    • Maria Guido

      Vadgesty Foximaiden! ahhaha

    • rrlo

      Yeah – but I don’t like the idea of so many random strangers having “opinions” about what I name my child. Especially when we don’t know what prompted the name in the first place.

      Have you read the Namesake (it’s a great book) and while it is fiction – there is a beautiful story behind why this man names his child “Gogol”. And I would like to think that trying to be a trendy, douche-bag is not the only reason why parents choose unusual names for their kids.

    • Ddaisy

      I’m sure they are great reasons–from the parents’ point of view. It’s still gonna be rough for the kid to go through life with a bizarre name. (My real name is a product of just such a bright idea from my mother; and mine isn’t even *that* weird.).

      And as much as you might not like random people having opinions about your kid’s name, it’s gonna happen for the rest of their life, so it’s actually not a bad yardstick for judging what your kid will have to face every time they have to pronounce their name for roll call or spell it out to make a reservation.

      I’m not saying every parent of an unusually-named kid is a pretentious douchebag–I’m sure most of them aren’t. And there can certainly be unusual names that are still quite pretty and easy to spell/pronounce. But the parent better think it all the way through, from the kid’s point of view, first.

      PS Thanks for sharing the name mangler; I quite enjoyed it :)

    • rrlo

      I have bit of an unusual name for North America because I wasn’t born here. And if my son (who has a VERY North American name) goes to work in Hong Kong or something – his name would be unusual.

      So environment often dictates what is unusual and what is not.

      I just don’t like the way STFU Parents seem to always draw the conclusion parents are pretentious douchebags if they dare to name their child something different.

      You are right random people can have opinions about the name but it is the leap from “I find that name weird” to “special little snowflake” judgement that is bothersome to me. Especially considering we don’t know the reasoning behind why these people chose these names.

    • Elmosfuturemil

      I had my daughter’s name compared to a type of yeast infection recently. It’s not even a “yoonique” name. It’s an ethnic heritage name. Duck those people.

    • EX

      The thing that has bugged me in recent posts are the submissions that get gold stars. They used to be funny but lately it’s seemed like to get a gold star you have to basically act like you hate your own kids or all other parents. They just seem very negative to me.

    • Jessie

      Unfortunately, that’s the dark side of STFU Parents fanbase. There’s a dark side to every fanbase. Not all of us see the mere existence of a child as a personal affront to our life, we just hate when parents don’t even attempt to control their howling little banshee.

    • rrlo

      You know when you have a friend that makes stereotype jokes… and then one day take it too far into racist territory and you realize perhaps you would rather keep all conversation with this friend sporadic and serious – I had that moment with STFU Parents.

  • allisonjayne

    Yesterday I was that mom carrying her kid under her arm like a giant screaming purse. Ugh.
    We are having lots of conversations about the difference between WANTS and NEEDS and it’s just so exhausting sometimes. Like I think I’m generally really good about being patient and understanding her developmental stage and all that but bloody hell sometimes it’s hard.

    • EX

      Haha. I can’t count how many times I correct my toddler when she tells me she “needs” something. No, you do not “need” to paint my leg. No, you do not “need” to climb over the couch. No, you do not “need” to slide down the stairs head first.

    • pixie

      The need to slide down the stairs head first only happens when you drink way too much and can’t get down the stairs any other way, and even then it’s usually accidental. ;)

    • allisonjayne

      Heh. My friend has a great story about doing acid as a teenager and throwing herself down a flight of stairs because she thought it was a waterslide. Witnesses said she yelled “cowabunga” because of course she did.

    • pixie

      That sounds like an absolutely fantastic story, no sarcasm. I’m kind of disappointed that I don’t have any friends nearly that interesting.

    • IS78

      Giant screaming purse. I know this move.

  • Lee

    Situations like these are the only times I let my kid play with my phone. For the most part though, I avoid taking him into stores like the plague.

  • Lena

    I actually got scolded by a random mom on a bicycle on day when I yanked my then-two-year-old by the arm when he was throwing a fit, for “abusing my child.” Her point? If you do that in public, what are you doing in private? Same damn thing, lady. That’s why my now-six-year-old isn’t an unbearable little shit when we go out.

    • Guest

      Should have knocked her off her bike and been like I abuse everyone bitch! You should know that, since you obviously know everything else about me!

  • EX

    My toddler has taken to yelling commands at me: “get me milk, Mommy!” I have no idea where it comes from and I correct her when she does it and don’t do anything until she asks nicely but she keeps doing it. I am living with a tiny dictator. So far (knock on wood) I have not lost my patience with her in public, but I sense that time is nigh.

    • rrlo

      Me too! Mine tries to dictate EVERYTHING now! And if i say no – he gives me a scowl and says “Why NOT Mommy?”

      I have no shame losing my patient with my dictator in public. It has happened a few times already.

    • jane

      Oh, if I had a nickels for every time I said “that is a statement. Why don’t you try asking a nice question?” I’d have in the ballpark of a shit-ton of nickels.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      My preschooler used to do that but has now graduated into the very subtle, “I wish I had a……” Louder and louder and louder until you finally just lose your damn mind and say, “JUST ASK NICE ALREADY!!!”

    • TinLizzie

      I had a kindergarten student try the “I wish I had…” on me and I just kept smiling sweetly and saying things like “Yeah, that would be nice, wouldn’t it?” or “I wish I had a pony.” until he stopped and asked.

    • Maria Guido

      Mine just goes – “MILK!”

  • Jill

    I know a Mom who carries a little sheet (I think it is laminated) in her purse that she sticks on the cart if she needs to step outside with the kid that just says “Be right back, please do not put away”. If kids flips out they go outside until they can quit screaming bloody murder, they return and grab the cart, check out and get the eff out of Dodge. Works so well for her I will def make one when we have kids.

    • Zettai

      That is a really cool idea.

  • Karen Milton

    “Mommy doesn’t like it when you hit her.” would never, ever come out of my mouth. I can definitely say that with 100% certainty.

  • Emily Wight

    I once passed a woman on the steps at the market and we were both tugging toddlers along by their arms and whisper-shouting basically the same thing: “YOU ARE WHY YOU DO NOT HAVE SIBLINGS.” Solidarity.

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