You are in the supermarket.
The man in the front of you in the queue is paying in pennies.
The woman behind him has a FULL trolley.
The check out girl has called for a supervisor.
You have milk, nappies and a screaming baby.
Now, we know how annoying a baby’s cry is when you are trying to concentrate on remembering your PIN or counting out your change. Believe us, we are well aware that you would do almost anything to MAKE IT STOP. But most of the time – it is just a matter of waiting it out.
However, there are a few things that will only make things much, much worse (for the mother):
1. Say, ‘Is she tired? Maybe she needs a nap.’
The truth is, my daughter probably slept in the car all the way here. She is just hacked off because I had the cheek to stop moving her pram. Basically queues are boring and unfortunately babies can’t just mess around on a smartphone while they wait.
2. ASK my baby (WHO CAN’T ACTUALLY TALK YET) what is wrong, ‘Aww there there, what’s all the fuss about sweetie?’ etc etc..
The first rule of dealing with an angry child you don’t know? Do not talk to the angry child you don’t know. The one thing my daughter hates more than waiting in a supermarket queue is a stranger talking to her in a supermarket queue. It guarantees my baby will go from crying to full blown screaming.
3.Diagnose the reason my baby is crying. ‘Ah, she’s hungry/tired/teething.’
‘Thank god for you, Random Stranger in the Supermarket, I never would have thought of ANY OF THOSE THINGS!’ Just once I would love someone to look at my child and say ‘ahh she’s being an arsehole. They do that.’
4. ‘Peepo!’ Try to make her laugh.
Now I know the Peepo people mean well. But picture this. You are so upset you are sobbing your heart out, when a massive strange head you have never seen before suddenly appears out of nowhere right in front of your face and sticks out his long, salivary tongue. You would be TERRIFIED, right? So how do you think my baby feels?
5. Say, ‘You are brave taking your little ones shopping! I do mine online.’
I am not brave. I am buying some sodding milk. I knew there would be a good chance that one or both of my kids would have a tantrum during the trip. Yet here I am buying the milk anyway. What these people mean by ‘brave’ is ‘have you no shame? There are grown up people in here trying to find the organic hummus for goodness sake.’
The Tut people are DICKS. That simple click of the tongue could reduce an exhausted mother to tears. Because what you are really saying is, ‘I disapprove of your choice to bring small humans out with you in public. Control your offspring, you terrible mother.’
So, if you are ever in the supermarket and you see a mum with a screaming child please just say nothing. However, there is one thing you can DO. It won’t stop the crying but it will make that tired mother’s day – a simple smile.
An understanding smile that says; ‘It is tough, but hang on in there my friend. I have been where you are and I get it. I see you that you are sleep-deprived and stressed because the last thing you wanted to do was to bring your kids to the supermarket but you had no choice. You are doing OK.’
A kind smile on a bad day says more than a thousand words.