On Target

Go cheerWhen we see bad parenting in public it raises thorny questions about what to do, or not do; but what about when we see good parenting… and what about if most everyone nearby fails to recognize it as such?

At the end of a long day yesterday, my wife and I were walking the dog through a hot summer night when she told me the following story and it just had to be my post for today.

She had been at target when, from across the store, she heard loud and relentless wailing.  As she approached the checkout lines, the one with the still-howling toddler was empty although all the other stands had long waits of people who would rather wait extra time than be near the screaming kid.

So, my wife pulled right up behind them and watched as the child continued his tantrum in the service of a hoped-for Hot Wheel—throwing himself onto the floor and pulling out all the stops.  The mom was not having it and held her ground, firmly but without anger.  Meanwhile, the checkout clerk was being trained and had broken into a profuse sweat.

The transaction was complete, the Hot Wheel, with much piercing anguish, left to reside at Target.  The mother and her still-crying child made their way out as the employee training the soaked trainee quipped, “That’s reason for birth control.”

In reward for her willingness to be close to the tantrum, my wife was in the parking garage quickly, where she saw the limit-setting mom struggling to get her child into his car-seat.  My wife walked over, and the mom looked a little defensive, which was understandable after virtually all the shoppers had been glaring at her.  But when my wife said that she just wanted to say how great a job this mom was doing, the mom’s eyes filled with tears and she said that she felt she was doing the right thing, but that it was just so hard.

My wife was going to say a little more about admiring this mom, but her own eyes had moistened and so there was a moment of silence between them. Even the child had quieted down.  The mom then said, “Thank you for making my day,” and she placed her hands together at her heart in a gesture perhaps of prayer, or thanks or mutual recognition… the traditional gesture of…


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4 Responses to “On Target”

  1. Darlene Says:

    Nice thing your wife did. It’s so nice to get recognition when you’re doing the seemingly thankless job of setting limits, but in the long run it does pay off!

  2. Marcia Says:

    Thank you for a heart-warming story! I had tears in my eyes as I read it. Your kids are lucky to have the Mom (and Dad) that they have!

  3. Erin Says:

    Tears in my eyes. Thank you.

  4. Pamela Says:

    Thank you Bruce. This post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for reminding me we are all in the same big leaky boat!

    Much love,

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