Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Oh the Humility!

This entry has nothing to do with house renovation but serves as a warning to what can happen when your 3 year old has a tantrum in a grocery store.

Today, Elizabeth took offense to the word "No". It's not like she had never heard that word before. It is one of the most used words in our daily vocabulary. I entered a local Meijer store with my daughter to pick up 4 items. Milk, cheese, cereal and you guessed it, beer! After getting the beer, Elizabeth decided she wanted out of the cart and tried to stand up. A few sharp "No"s and she started screaming at the top of her lungs. "I want out!", "Let me out!" were two of her initial cries. At the milk section she stood up so I put her on the ground where she tried to run off. I grabbed her and put her over my shoulder so I could push the cart. Only cheese and cereal to go. "Put me down!", "Let me go!" she screams repeatedly. (You can see where this is leading, right?). I grab the cheese. "I don't want to go (home)!", "Put me down!" I smile as I pass the other customers staring at us. One old lady said "She needs a good spanking!" to which I replied "She will get one, but not here." More of this through the cereal aisle and another 5 minutes at the checkout. She could be heard throughout the store. Her cries are now "I want to ride the horsie!" I get her to the car and she won't get in. She won't sit down in her seat. Five minutes of this and she got put over my knee and spanked once behind the car door. Didn't work. Another two minutes and she gets another smack on on the bottom and one more. Doesn't work. Now there are Meijer employees with radios watching me from the entry doors and more cart attendants in the vicinity than I have ever seen before. It pays to be observant of your surroundings. "Now look Elizabeth, people think I'm stealing you and they probably called the police." I said to her. The screaming continues so I shut the back door and sit on the passenger seat with the door open. Some lady approaches and asks if she can be "blunt"
"Sure, be blunt" I reply.
"Is this your daughter?"
"She is having a coniption fit?"
"Uh-huh, and you are?"
She states here name, some child related job and that she was a concerned customer then goes away. Elizabeth screams some more "I want to ride the horsie!", "I don't want to go home!"
The police arrive. A female officer.
"Come here little girl."
"I want to ride the horsie" she says.
" What's that? You don't want to go with this man?" states the officer.
"That isn't what she said." I interject "She wants to ride the horsie."

Well once the officer realized that she wanted to ride the horsie and she referred to me as "Daddy" several times she knew that this was my child and I wasn't beating the crap out of her, all was well. She didn't even check for ID. Eventually we got Elizabeth in her seat but she screamed the whole way home and even more at home. For a complete hour she screamed. From 5PM to 6PM. She was put in her bed without any supper and has been asleep ever since! Could you imagine my plight had I attempted to drive away from the store. I would have been pulled over, searched and most likely released after much questioning. So, for all you daddies out there. If your child has a tantrum in a large store where there are hundreds of people as witnesses and your wife isn't with you, I suggest that you don't smack your child in full view and take your time leaving in case the police were called. If I were a woman this would have been different. I will not be shopping alone with my child again for many years. If I were a younger man, I wouldn't have the patience that I have now so there are advantages to waiting until you are older to have children. Of course there are advantages to not having children too!


Anonymous said...

Oh my. I do not have childern. I have witnessed kids being 'ornry' in the stores. Every time I see a 'situation' I feel for the parent - and wonder what they are going through.

I dont know if I would have had the ability to maintain such a composure as you did.

Amazing that the police actually changed her words - That I fear would have pushed me over the edge.

I raise a cup of coffee in your general direction in salute - You are indeed a fine father with tremendous patience, relaxed and resolved in a difficult situation.

I admire the manner in which you handled the situation.

All my best to you

Beautiful home by the way :)


Ms. P in Jackson said...


My daughter pulled something similar to this several years ago. She was about the age of Elizabeth. We were headed into K-Mart and she pulled the screaming stiff-legged toddler so you can't get me into the shopping cart act. After a few minutes of me trying to get her cooperation and seeing it wasn't there, I took her to the car, got inside, closed the doors and spanked her butt good and then asked if she was now ready to behave and go to the store. Honestly, it was the last tantrum she ever had in a store. Another effective solution is to make a point of going to the store without her and tell her why she's not invited. Inconvenient for a parent, but it works.

You are lucky worse things didn't come of this. It is alarming the way the officer asked such a leading question. I have watched too many American Justice stories where people are ruined because authorities ask questions that frame a situation thusly creating a story of imagination only to find out years later, after lives are ruined that it was all wrong.

I hope that was the last of it for you.

John said...

I'm not too sure whether being a woman would have saved you.

A couple years ago in Faulkner County, Arkansas, a woman went to look at a house she and her husband were thinking about buying. She was just going to drive by the house, and, being a stay at home mom, she took their baby with.

Well, she go lost out in BFE and ran out of gas. She couldn't find anyone to help her. She called 911 on her cell phone, but, since she didn't know where she was, they had to search the better part of the rural section of the county before they found her. She and her baby spent the night in the car.

When the police found her the next morning they arrested her for child endangerment and put the baby in foster care. When the mother had a complete and total emotional melt-down, they claimed that she was acting irrationally and questioned whether she was mental competent to have custody of their own child.

After a few WEEKS, the situation was straightened out and she got her baby back.

This story, yours, and others I've heard scare the hell out of me. I personally don't care for this hyper-vigilent atmosphere where strangers and police feel the need to get involved in a tempertantrum. You know big brother is always watching when the police show up for tempertantrum at the grocery store.

I'm glad things worked out for you in the end. I can't wait until my son is three. Two has been entertaining enough.

The Bishops said...

So what you are saying is, enjoy my son now, who is four months and can really go anywhere?

Wow! That's is unbelievable. It must have been quite a circus if some one called the police. I would have totaly lost it myself.

The Bishops said...

I like that - hyper-vigilent atmosphere. Too true. It's usually that way or the complete opposite. Both scare me.

Aunt Jo said...

I hate that you had to deal with that situation. I would have most definitely lost it when the officer started changing Elizabeth's words.

I spanked S. one time in a store when he was about 4 and he never threw another fit with me. I dared anyone to say anything to me about it.

Anonymous said...

My daughter's five, and pulls these kinds of stunts constantly with her father, mostly.

Back when I was a single gal, I was doing some grocery shopping one day when I saw a young child at the other end of the aisle attempting to climb the shelves while his mother was selecting groceries. As soon as she noticed what he was up to, she quickly grabbed him and gave him a good, well-placed (and deserved) spank on the butt.
Just at that moment, a lady had entered the aisle and started going ballistic on the poor woman, saying how wrong it was for her to hit her child, you should talk out your problems...etc., etc.
I had to get involved and approached them, saying, "Perhaps you didn't notice that this kid was in the process of climbing the store shelves, and in danger of them tipping over and possibly killing him. I really don't think there was time to 'discuss' why he shouldn't be doing that."
To the woman with the child, I said, "I can't believe how people who haven't got the slightest clue about anything are the first to criticize...I saw what your son was up to, and I think you handled it the only way you could have."

You'll find that your daughter (if she's anything like mine) will constantly push her boundaries with you over the next while, seeing how far she can go before you give in to what she wants. You have to be firm with her and sometimes it's hard, but I can tell you that my husband sure wishes he'd listened to me when I told him he was being too much of a pushover with ours...and would regret it.

Anonymous said...

I've been in the same situation with my now-nearly-four-year-old, and as much as I might've needed groceries that day, I walked out and took her home, kicking and screaming. Then she had a time out. She's not done it since, and it didn't take a spanking, but to each his own, I guess.

Anonymous said...

I've been in the same situation with my now-nearly-four-year-old, and as much as I might've needed groceries that day, I walked out and took her home, kicking and screaming. Then she had a time out. She's not done it since, and it didn't take a spanking, but to each his own, I guess.

Anonymous said...

I've been in the same situation with my now-nearly-four-year-old, and as much as I might've needed groceries that day, I walked out and took her home, kicking and screaming. Then she had a time out. She's not done it since, and it didn't take a spanking, but to each his own, I guess.

Gary said...

I figured that some anti-spanker would pick up on this! So, let me make this clear. I had no plans on doing any spanking at least until I got home. I chose to spank her because she wouldn't co-operate with me in the car and mainly because I had told her that if she wouldn't get in her seat that I would spank her. I had to carry out the punishment otherwise the threat has no meaning. She knows that her daddy WILL do what he says he will do. I always have. That should hopefully instill values in her that very few people exhibit these days. Ones of moral standards, ethics, discipline, limited use of force, committment to follow up and most importantly honor and a sense of fairness.

My biggest concern was the way the police officer asked my daughter whether she wanted to go with me. Had Elizabeth said "No" then there would be hell to pay. I sure would like to know who called the police. I have the ideal bath tub to leave on their front lawn!

Anonymous said...

Manners in a grocery store should be a priority with everybody! Well done!

Derek C said...

Hi Gary, to all the "super-parents" out there who want to Monday morning quarterback your decisions... fuck them. Their kids will all be drug addicted meth whores who wouldn't recognize any limits if they were spelled out for them. I am home with 3 kids, ages 4, 2, and 3 months. We gotta do what we can or go insane. My kids all know the "daddy boot camp" rules, no "tear talking" "no whining" and we pick up our messes. If they don't I attach them to heavy chains with spikes and snakes attached and throw them into the root cellar until they can write me an essay of 2000 words on why daddy drinks so much.

Derek C said...

Oh, and she will probably be a right in Brimfield. Let her walk into a tent where they sell Tiffany lamps and fine china and pull that stunt. It would be fun to watch the vendor have an anuerysm.

Anonymous said...

Been there been questioned. I was with a little 4 year old that I used to take care of and he wanted to throw a fit in the store. Yelling I dont want to go with you I want to go with my mom. Now I was browsing in the store while he was yelling this and I think if I was stealing him I would be running out of the store. This woman approached me and asked "Where is his mother and why is he with you". I explained I was his sitter and his mother was in CVS and we were going to meet her. I then looked at him and said "Please tell this lady I am not stealing you" He stood crossed arms and tight lipped and refused to speak a word. I just looked at the lady and said if you would like we can walk over there and she politely declined.......

I knew how smart the kid was from that day on.....

Anonymous said...

Hey Pete the Grocer!
Just think what could have happened if that occurred in a "Piggly Wiggly"!

Anonymous said...

Phew - sounds like a good one! Wait till she's sixteen, she'll really give you a run for your money.

I wholeheartedly agree with others - if you had to spank her, you had to spank her. It won't turn her into some violent psychopath, and it might just save your sanity the next time you go shopping with her. As for the police being called etc. - that is very scary. I'm glad it all worked out in the end. I give you credit for not losing it with the police and crowd of spectators.... haven't they ever seen a temper tantrum before? I am sure everyone meant well, but what an ordeal!

Good thing you managed to grab the beer - must have needed it after that!

Anonymous said...

Luckily you didn't have the van, that would have really looked like you were kidnapping her......heh.....

Anonymous said...

Lesson learned. That is, that smacking a child who is out of control of her emotions will -- surprise! -- decrease that control even further.

Don't raise your voice or be a jerk to a child who is upset or disappointed. What if your wife responded to your feelings by snapping at you or smacking you for your insolence. YOU escalated your daughter's behavior by refusing to acknowledge her feelings and instead making her feel like crap. From the beginning you should have been just calmly repeating to her over and over what she was saying to you (before she was screaming it). REFLECT how they are feeling, they feel understood, and it diffuses their meltdowns ("I know you want to get down and run. It's not going to happen, and you're disappointed. You just want to run. You wish I would let you down.") To you this undoubtedly sounds moronic. Indulgent. Lame. It's not. It's what you expect of your spouse when she listens to you whine about your life, and it's what your friends need at times, too. So does your tiny daughter, a toddler who can't manage to swallow mild disappointments, but is goaded on by someone making her feel stupid and powerless.

Not time outs, not hugging tight, not sharp little smacks, not yelling. Empathy. Before the hysteria sets in.

P.j. said...

To the last "Anonymous"--Are you a parent, or some "expert" who learned this crap while studying for a PhD in Child Psychology? I've not only raised 2 children who are now responsible adults, but ran a home daycare for toddlers. They are smart enough to know when they are in control & the adult isn't. I find it hard to keep quiet when witnessing a grownup trying to reason with a child who's out of control. Kids don't understand logic until they're older, but they do know when an adult is spouting empty threats. Empathy--what a crock of s***! BTW, I recommend keeping a wooden paddle for such occasions, although I never had to take it with me. After using it a couple of times (one or two whacks on the butt, over clothing), all I had to do was mention the word "paddle". 'Nuff said.

imaNYgirl said...

Haha! I know this is an old post, but your situation reminds me of this commercial.