This morning I took my three children to buy new shoes for the spring and summer. We went to Payless Shoes because of their buy one get one half off sale. For a larger family this can be a good deal, in my opinion, though I do get frustrated because sometimes we cannot find leather free shoes.
While at the store, my two daughters independently searched for shoes which rocks! My son and I looked for toddler shoes together. They all did a great job using their words, listening to my directions when I had something to say, and respecting the store as well as the products.
Another family came in with young children. The parents were trying to look at shoes and the children were being children. I mean what typical young child isn't noisy, isn't full of energy, and doesn't like to explore? Unfortunately, the parents were very stressed out, I have been there plenty of times, and used loud menacing voice and actions several times. It was rough enough that I said something to the clerk who seemed fearful to speak up or give gentle direction. At one point the male, perhaps the father, picked up one of the young kids by the shirt and shoved his face in the child's face while shouting.
Well, you all know me, that was NOT going to fly especially with my children present. I gently and calmly said, "Please don't do that. I know children can be stressful. I have three as you can see, but please do not do that. It would be sad if someone got hurt because of anger." Of course I got a dirty look and mumbling directed at me, but that was the kindest way I could muster to speak up. I really do understand. Stress can make a person very very upset and makes it hard to think things through. I know I am fortunate to have had a lot of practice before I had kids. My parenting tool box is very full, though there is always room for more strategies and ideas. After all, no one is perfect and stress does affect our behavior.
I realize the children probably have a bleak home life and wish I had more time to talk with the parents in a low stress environment, but that is not always possible. I can say that I often wonder if stores understand that the profits would dip if all the peaceful parents chose to shop only in places that require calm voices and gentle touch. I spent nearly $100 today. I do not know if I will go back to that particular store with my money again. Maybe I will because people need to see peaceful parenting in action plus what are the odds the same family will have the same stress level and be there at the same time we are again? Maybe I won't go back because my children deserve to have a calm, peaceful, kind experience when out shopping.
At any rate, I did the best I could. I was kind. My children saw me being respectful and patient. They saw me stick up for those whom cannot defend themselves. If I had my phone I would have most likely called someone to investigate further, possibly rather than say anything, because it is my belief that if people will bully a child like that in public, the child may be in danger at home.
While we finished our purchase, the clerk praised my kids repeatedly and said, "Your peaceful way works better than their non-peaceful way." I hope that, at the very least, the clerk passes on my concerns to the manager of the store and also that she internalizes the experience of seeing peacefully parented children behaving successfully in public.