The Target Tantrum


Baby Flames

On a average day my son and I ventured to Target, something we do often enough. As we entered the store he saw the dreaded Dollar Area. You know the spot put right there just to make your trip to Target to get toilet paper more miserable. Well on this particular day he spotted some toy he felt he had to have…and well at this point I felt there was a lesson to learn, despite the object only costing a dollar.

I told him no, we weren’t there for toys. We had come for toilet paper, milk, paper towels and a furnace filter. Glamorous right? Well needless to say he didn’t agree with my parenting choice and began to scream-wail and burst into baby-flames. I did the standard mama-move and looked all around to see who was staring at us…a lot of people were staring at us. I felt the stress and the fear that I was ruining their days. They glares of if she was a good mother her son wouldn’t be acting like that. I felt myself begin to sweat, but when I looked down at my baby again they all melted away. None of those people mattered or their silly glares. All that mattered was my son.

I knelt down and picked him up in my arms and told him again, “I’m sorry baby we aren’t here for toys. We are here for groceries. I know you wanted it and I hear your sadness, but we can’t have a toy today.”

I pushed my cart forward with one hand and carried my twenty-nine pound toddler with the other. He continued to scream and wail and flail about. I lovingly repeated my words over and over again. Eventually I got him into the seat on the cart and continued my way through the store as he cried and I kept my face close to his and repeated the same words.

A woman walked up to us and said, “You’re a good mom.”

I smiled and felt stronger in the sea of glares in Target, as though those people never saw a toddler feel sad before. I just kept ignoring the spectators and hugging him and telling him the words and buying the things we truly came for. Somewhere around the 45 minute mark another mom stopped us and said, “You’re doing the right thing. Keep being strong.”

As we walked through check out, tears still on his sweet little cheeks, the woman ahead of us said, “Nicely done mama.”

I will never forget those women and their choice to cheer me on in a situation when they could have judged my son and I. And I am truly proud of myself for sticking to the lesson, staying calm, being kind, letting my son feel heard even if he didn’t get his way. By the time we got to the car my baby hugged me and he said “I love you mama.”

That is truly beautiful.