We’ve all been there: as we wander around the supermarket or department store, pushing our stroller and frantically trying to find whatever item we need so we can get the hell out of there, our kid decides to throw an almighty tantrum. Maybe it’s because they don’t want to be there, or because you won’t buy them that 12-inch chocolate Easter egg, or because they’re tired but refuse to nap. Whatever the reason, they’re going to show the whole world just how unhappy they are.
Last week here in the U.K., a mom was asked to leave the upscale department store John Lewis because of this very reason. Lindsay Robinson was escorted out of The Old Trafford Centre in Manchester when her 16-month-old daughter had a crying fit. A man approached her from the menswear department and said, “I’m afraid we’ve had a complaint, you’ll have to leave.”
Robinson has since said she will never go back to the store and that “when shops see a mother trying to deal with a child having a tantrum, they should cut them a bit of slack. I was made to feel like a rubbish mum.”
While the department store has since apologized to the mom, sending her vouchers and flowers, I have to admit that I completely understand why they asked her to go. This may be an unpopular choice of opinion with moms, but I ask you: Who wants to listen to a kid scream blue murder?
Before you criticize me, my own 18-month-old daughter threw a complete tantrum in a shop one day, refusing to have a shoe put anywhere near her tiny foot. She laid on the ground as if she were possessed, kicking and wailing. I sat on the little square seats and sighed, trying and failing to calm her. Most people that passed me were understanding and didn’t make me feel worse, but if the shop had asked me to go, I would have done so no problem. Yes, it would have been more horrific, but that doesn’t mean I think shops should be understanding to tantrum-throwing kids.
Last week I went to my favorite local restaurant and hid away in the back room to write. My peace was disrupted when two moms with infants came in. I shoved in my earplugs and carried on writing, but as one child threw a massive tantrum, I looked up to give a look of sympathy. But when I saw the mom drinking her coffee and chatting away, ignoring her demonic child, my smile soon turned to a glare. The mom had no respect for anyone else in the room; she even looked at me and gave a “What can you do?” laugh.
Well, you can try and soothe your kid for a start, and failing that, out of courtesy to others, you can leave. I fully agree that a restaurant or shop should tell a mom to leave for a few moments, or even better, bring her out the back to the staffroom or side room so the tantrum can have time to pass.
I appreciate that some moms will think that whole experience is stressful enough and having someone ask them to leave would only exacerbate their feelings of failure — but it isn’t a reflection on the mom. Kids have tantrums, and there’s nothing you can do about it. What it’s about is allowing stores to keep their other customers happy. Surely that is preferable to the stares and tuts from other parents?
Not only is it safer for the kid to step outside, as who knows what they could bang into or knock over — hurting themselves or others, but also the minute mom isn’t cooped up in a shop, she has the space to breathe and try to settle her child. Big department stores feel incredibly small all of a sudden when your kid is running around like a whirling dervish.
We’ve all been that poor parent with the screaming toddler who wished the ground would open up and swallow us whole, and I have to guess that we all, at some point, have been the person wishing the screaming child would just shut up, too. That’s why now, if I see a mom having difficulties, I ask her if there’s anything I can do to help, and if she’s asked to leave the store, I’ll happily go with her.
Would you be offended if a store or restaurant asked you to leave because of your tantrum-throwing child?
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