While visiting the grocery store yesterday, I came upon a mother and son in the cold cereal section. The little boy was probably about 4, blonde and a cutie. Mom scanned the cereal boxes while her little one picked out a box of sweet cereal and hugged it to his chest. Mom turned, and seeing the sweet cereal, snatched it out of his hands and replaced it on the shelf. Of course the little boy began to cry. Not the wailing cries of a child in the throes of a tantrum, but big hiccupy sobs. He wrapped his arms around himself and sobbed, gasping for breath, trying not to make any noise. Mom was obviously irritated and told him he was a spoiled brat. She then proceeded to announce that she was leaving. Panic crossed his little face and he began to beg, “Noooo.” Mom turned briskly and walked down the aisle. Struggling to catch up, the little guy began to run while repeatedly apologizing. “Sorry,” he wailed. “Sooorrrry, Momma.” Finally, just before reaching the end of the aisle, Mom stopped and took his hand, pulling him forward into the next aisle.
I happened upon them a little later in my shopping. The little boy was no longer crying, but plodded along obediently behind his mother with a sad and tear-stained face. I smiled, but he stared at me blankly. Mom ignored me. I’m sure that there is more to this little story than I could possibly know from a three-minute observation. But, no matter the circumstances, I do know a couple of important facts. Life is too short and too precious to turn a trip to the store into a traumatic and stressful event. Mom through fatigue and lack of communication resorted to name calling and the threat of abandonment. Little boy learned nothing about self-control, good food choices or the joy of shopping with Mom. Instead, he learned how to name call and control others through the use of power. I’m hoping that on another day, Mom will include her little guy in the cereal selecting process. I can imagine them now, laughing and chatting, Mom re-directing as necessary. I wish many things for this Mother and son, but most of all, I wish for them a “do over.”