Friday, July 31, 2015

To the mom at the store with the screaming toddler

We got to the store at about the same time. I saw you in the produce section with your toddler son in the seat of the basket. He was talking non-stop and pointing at everything. I smiled when I saw that because I have one who was the exact same when he was that age. A little while later I passed you in the bread aisle. Your toddler was no longer happily sitting in the cart, but fussing and trying to stand up and grab something. I could tell you were getting frustrated, but you stayed calm and tried to get your shopping done. Then I heard the screaming, the crying and I knew it was your son. I saw you a few more times and you were trying to be calm and ignore the tantrum and just get your shopping done, but I heard your son all through the store. I smiled again because I have been there. With all three of my kids I have been there more times than I can remember. As I saw you checking out and getting ready to leave the store I could tell you were exhausted. I wanted to come up to you and say, "Don't worry. These are the easy years." I know if may not seem like it, but those baby and toddler and pre-school years are the easy years. Pretty soon you'll have to hold back tears while your son waves good-bye and walks into school for the first time. You'll be at home all day, trying to keep busy and wondering what he's doing and if he's okay and if he'll like his teacher. You'll hate that you can't be with him all day anymore, that you have to miss out on watching him do so many new things. Then, when he's a little older, you'll go to school a little early when it's your day to help in the classroom because you want to watch him at recess. You'll go out to the playground, but then your heart will break a little when you see that your son is the only kid playing alone. After school you'll ask him about it and you'll have to go hide and in your room to cry because he told you it's like that everyday, no one ever wants to play with him. As he gets older you'll miss the times when he was little, when your kisses and hugs made all his hurts better. One day he'll be almost as tall as you, and then taller than you. It will be hard when he tells you he doesn't need you to tuck him in anymore at bedtime and it will hurt when he'd rather be with his dad or his friends or his brothers than with you. He'll roll his eyes at you and talk back, or he won't talk at all. But you know what mom at the store with the screaming toddler? It's not always like that. You'll get to have good conversations and watch  him grow in his confidence. You'll be his biggest cheerleader in all he does and even when he's bigger than you he'll still need you and still ask for a hug every now and then. And there will be days when you're sitting there watching him and you'll think back to when he was little and you'll be amazed at the man he's becoming and you'll think, "I did that. I helped with that." So be patient with your toddler. Love him and hug him, teach him right from wrong and how to open doors for girls and to be respectful and kind. Teach him how to work hard and that life isn't fair and that it's okay to cry. And the next time you're watching your toddler throw a tantrum in the middle of the store just remember that the best years are coming and you have so much to look forward to.

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