Friday, December 3, 2010

Excuse Me?

So, we took a shopping trip to the States this week. Despite the usual travel hassles, we got most of what we needed to do there done. One of our first stops was Whole Foods, so we'd have time to get our Rubbermaid container packed and shipped off at the post office the next morning. All four of us went in, and things were going well until Wyatt decided he needed to use the bathroom. Oliver took him, leaving me with Oscar who was sitting in the cart.

No problem, right? Well, that was true until we walked over to the spice aisle. Oscar watched me pick out a couple bottles of vanilla extract and apparently decided he would help me out. I glanced over to see him toss a bottle of peppermint extract into the cart. I handed it back to him and told him to return it. He did, but somehow managed to knock something else off the shelf that promptly shattered on the floor. I pulled him back immediately and reprimanded him for it, then looked around for a store employee to tell about the mess.

It was maybe 30 seconds later that I caught sight of a couple people chatting near a couple of swinging doors. I was just about to make my way over to them when a woman swept past me and told them that "someone broke something" and pointed it out. I stayed to be sure it was going to be taken care of, then turned around to see Oliver returning.

I was in the middle of telling him what had happened when the woman who had swept past me earlier walked up and asked if it was my kid that broke the bottle (she'd been standing in the aisle when it happened and clearly knew it was). When I said yes, she proceeded to tell me I should have told someone, and when I said I'd been looking for someone which is why I hadn't walked away, she said, and I quote, "Those people were standing there for ten minutes" (exaggerate much, lady?). Then she said something about how I should have used the experience to teach my kid better behavior, then stormed off when I didn't give her the answer she wanted. (I'm still not sure what she was getting at - I needed to make my three year old clean it up? He already knew he'd done something wrong. I didn't let him think it was perfectly okay to break stuff in stores.)

The whole thing left me a little baffled. I mean, I get that my kid did something he shouldn't, but since when is it some random stranger's job to give me parenting lessons? I cannot see myself getting in someone's face just because I perceive they are not teaching their kids correctly. And, really, what does she know about me or my kids, or even what actually lead to the incident? (We had a discussion with Wyatt the next day about how he needs to not point out every person he sees smoking and inform us they are doing some bad - loudly - as people have the right to their own choices. Oliver pointed out that he didn't want his son growing up into some person that would tell other people in the grocery store how to parent their kids. I thought it was hilarious, but obviously, you had to be there!)

Anyway, all this leads to the real issue I have facing me, one which she had no idea about (ignorance makes us such experts, doesn't it): after a year living on an island with no traffic, a store the size of a Seven Eleven where all the people inside smile at whatever antic my boys do, no real restaurants to eat out at, and almost no experience having to deal with crowds or people they don't know, my boys are a little on the wild side. It's frustrating to me (and this is why I found that whole exchange so upsetting) because they were actually pretty easy to take into public before we moved here. We'd worked a lot with them, teaching them how to behave, and were proud of how we could take them to nearly any place and have a decent time as long as we didn't overstay their ability to keep it together.

Now, though, they have adapted to a completely different lifestyle. What works here doesn't work so well in civilization. This is especially true for Oscar, who barely remembers his time in the States. There's unfortunately not much I can do about it. I can't really train them here to react to situations they aren't exposed to. It's too abstract for them. Mostly we just try to keep them close and head off problems when they arise (Oliver actually ended up taking both boys to sit on a bench outside Whole Foods after that incident with the crazy lady and a more minor one later with Wyatt). It's not perfect, but I don't see what else I can do.

On the plus side, they have adapted to life here very well, and we don't really have any problems here. Hopefully that means that when we move back, we'll have an adjustment period, and then they'll relearn how to act amongst people again. Here's hoping we don't run into any more people who feel the need to lecture others on how to do things. (Can I tell you how much I am dreading doing sacrament meeting again with these two? /shudder)

2 sonar pings:

Emily Snow said...

Wow I can relate to this is SOOOO many ways! Thanks for sharing!

Nick and Dani said...

(Hi, I'm Dani. I just found your blog on MMB. My husband is joining the military June 7th so I was checking out 'Military Life') I really like your blog. I think you're a great writer and I like what you write about. ...and I hope that lady ran into the door on the way out. She must not have children.