“Come find me when you’re done,” mom abandons child having a tantrum in store aisle, other parents applaud

Mary Duncan

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.*

I think most parents would agree that the hardest job they’ve ever had in their lives is parenting. I know there are some out there that will wave me off and say “parenting isn’t a job” and say things like: parenting is a gift, parenting is a privilege, and parenting is the purpose of life.

Well, I don’t think so. I am not one of those parents who is all hooey-gooey over raising my kid, I just do the best job I can with the resources I have, because that’s what parenting is to me. A job. A very hard, constant, unrelenting, and often thankless job that seems as if it will never end. I love my daughter to pieces. She’s seventeen now, and despite her multiple disabilities that make her much less mature than her peers, we are working on building a comfortable, respectful relationship with each other that will carry us into the future.

The past, though, wasn’t so easy. Tori was never the easiest child to deal with, and still isn’t in some ways. Seventeen years old and she still hates playing games with people because she never wants to lose, and the worst part is, it’s her way or the highway. If Tori doesn’t get exactly what she wants, even if she can get a very close variation on what she wants, she’d rather punish herself (thinking she’s punishing me) and choose nothing over the singular thing she wants. I’m still trying to reason with her over these situations as she’s growing ever closer to adulthood. Can you imagine what it was like when she was a toddler? Oh yes, there were a lot of tantrums.

Tori was the type of child who, when told “No” in public, would throw herself onto the ground in a dramatic fit and start flailing her limbs about and wailing, inevitably causing quite the scene. I can’t count the number of times I had to abandon my cart in a store, pick Tori up off the floor, and carry her out as she screamed, unable to finish my shopping.

One day, when she was about four, I was just done dealing with that behavior.

Tori and I were in a Walmart on a quiet evening after I’d picked her up from daycare, and we were walking past the shoe aisles when she darted away from me and grabbed onto a pair of sparkly pink slippers hanging on a rack.

“Tori, you already have, like, four pairs of slippers,” I told her, shaking my head.

“Mommy please, they’re so pretty,” she begged me.

“No,” I said, and that was all it took.

Tori threw the slippers onto the floor and then threw herself down with them as well. Laying on her stomach, she beat the floor with her fists as she screamed “I hate you! I hate you!”

I sighed, my heart beginning to pound, and looked around. There was only a single woman in sight a few aisles away - a veritable Walmart miracle.

“Okay, Tori,” I said. “Come find me when you’re done throwing your fit, I’m not listening to it anymore,” I said, and began to slowly push my carriage away.

I had only gotten a few feet when I heard Tori’s wails stop. I kept walking farther, but at a slow pace.

“Mommy?” I heard her cautiously call from the shoe aisle.

I kept walking, taking a left into the ladies’ nightgown area, and disappearing from the main aisle.

“Mommy?” I heard her call a bit louder, but still, I kept slowly walking away from her.

“Mommy?!” I finally heard her shriek, then the pounding of little footsteps as she searched for me. I turned around just as she spotted me from the main aisle, the face that had gone from fury to confusion fell into relief as she ran to me and clutched my legs.

“I am not going to deal with these tantrums in the store anymore,” I told her. “You can’t always get what you want, and you can’t behave that way every time you’re told no. If you keep doing it in public, I just won’t take you out with me anymore,” I explained.

Tori nodded and said she was sorry. That’s when I heard a low round of applause coming from two women who had apparently witnessed the entire thing. I didn’t know anyone had been watching, but one of the women came up to me and gave me a pat on the back.

“Kids are so hard,” she said. “But you two will be okay.”

We were, and we are.

If you are a parent, how do you handle your child’s tantrums?

Hi, I hope you enjoyed this story! I am a freelance writing single mom trying to create a better life for me and my daughter through words. If you enjoyed this, please consider leaving a small donation: https://ko-fi.com/maryduncan

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I write about the weird complexities of relationships to make a better life for me and my daughter through words. https://ko-fi.com/maryduncan

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