As I mentioned, there has been some fire in my life. This has led to some emotional days. Some emotional subjects, and some emotional outbursts. The latest one was, sadly, in a very public setting.
The children and I were grocery shopping at Costco. We'd gone to the Asian food store that morning, then ran to the mall to exchange some recent ill fitting purchases, then to the bank to open a savings account for my oldest (only to realize that, duh, she needs her ss# with her!), then BACK to the mall to have lunch with my husband, and finally to Costco. By this time, we were all a little tired of running around as a group in public. I was having to repeat my famous line, "walk behind me in a row, not around me like a crowd". Trying to get 4 kids, no matter how well behaved, through the tangled web of people at Costco is always a chore.
My children LOVE that Costco has samples, as do many adults I know. I abhor them. They cause traffic jams and make me feel guilty about eating an advertisement and then not buying the product. Thus, my children have to ask before taking samples and even with that permission tend to feel a bit guilty about it. Did I mention we'd JUST ate lunch? Another reason I dislike the sample gallery. I tend to eat things when I'm not hungry if they're offered to me.. I need a "no soliciting" t-shirt while walking through there!!
Any-who, we had made it through produce, deli, and were into the frozen foods section, the "gauntlet" of samplers and shoppers. I'd said yes to some samples, no to others. We came up behind a woman sampling egg rolls and on the other side of the aisle, a man was sampling some other food. Their tables made a narrowed aisle so I asked Naomi to go in front of the woman's table and grab a different package of spring rolls than the indigestion inducing egg rolls the woman was sampling. I received a text from my friend about our running date that was in about an hour, and was replying and told the other kids that yes, they may sample the egg rolls from the woman in front of me. She did a lovely job of announcing her product, British accent and all. I was texting, Na came back with the spring rolls, I had the kids get "behind" me, and we began making our way through the little aisle space between the two tables. As we were passing, I happened to see one of my kids swipe a second sample off of the tray. We continued walking and I pulled that child up and was correcting their swipery when all of a sudden I hear from behind in a crisp, clear, beautiful English accent, "Not ONE of those children said thank you!". By this time we were about 15ft from her sampling table. (I'm shaking again just typing this and it was three days ago!)
I turned around, walked back to her table and said shakily, "If you have a problem with my children, I'd appreciate you talking about it to me, instead of announcing it to the rest of your customers!". She proceeded to argue that she hadn't announced anything. When I repeated her words she again argued that she wasn't telling the customers. I replied telling her how far from her table I was when I heard her exclamation of my children's lack of manners. She followed that with, "Well, I try and provide a service with manners and appreciate it when customers reply with manners."
About this time is when I think I went from shaking over confronting someone to realizing I was being watched by everyone around me and in the middle of an argument with a store employee. I began to tear up not only due to embarrassment, but the overwhelming feeling that this woman has no idea who I am, how I train my children, or how much of my life is spent doing just that. For goodness sake, it was 2 in the afternoon on a weekday and I was dragging 4 obviously school age children through a crowded grocery store. Because, I feel it is MY job to train and educate my children and not someone else's.
Trying to hold back the tears, I continued the argument. "I train my children to have manners. However, they ARE children, and they don't always remember them. I'm sorry they didn't say 'thank you' however, I don't appreciate your telling the rest of the store that I am not doing my job." And.. the tears began to fall. At this point a crack appeared in the glossy veneer of this woman's stone face and she said, "I'm sorry if I insulted you. Thank you for training your children, good job and keep it up!" Ya, about four arguments too late she listened to me and saw that she had indeed crossed a boundary that was inappropriate for a food sampler to cross. Her job is to offer samples to sell product for her employer, not correct ill mannered children through humiliation.
Through my tears I said a final, "You never know what people are going through and you should try and be more understanding." Then turned, gathered my chicks and walked a few aisles away where I cried and snotted and told my kids that though they knew they should've said thank you, this situation wasn't their fault. We made our way to the front of the store picking up the few other groceries we were in need of, and by the time we got to the registers I was back to simply shaking uncontrollably. I asked to speak to a manager and told him what had happened back at the "egg roll sampling table" with the woman with the British accent. As I repeated through more tears, "she doesn't know what people are going through, I am trying my best here".. he stopped me, "Put it out of your mind, it wasn't her place." He then turned and headed back to talk with Super Nanny.
I paid for my groceries and put my glasses on so my favorite receipt checker, Teddy, wouldn't see me crying and we headed to the car. My children thanking me for every thing they could think to say thank you for.
I've struggled with whether confronting this woman was the proper thing to do. Was I being proud? Was I doing what I accused her of, not thinking about what other people are going through and jumping on them for offending my own code of ethics? Perhaps she too is going through a rough patch and feels unappreciated (under-de-me-see-ated if you've ever seen Bedtime Stories). I've asked God to show me how to be more gracious toward those who offend my sensibilities, or attack my children for something that I harp on them about day in and day out. I see that I went into confronting her "protecting my children" but was really protecting my place as trainer of those children. Lord help me to be humble, help me to walk in the grace you extend me for offending your sensibilities daily. May I view others as you view them and not simply see the wear and tear that this life has caused.
I encourage you reader, try and view others not through the lens of who you aim to be, but who've been. You never know what someone else is going through to cause them to act the way they do.