To the employee at the Panera in Augusta, Maine who attempted to Mom-Shame me because my four year old had a tantrum,
Your open condescension and judgment of my parenting choices was both obvious and unappreciated. The comments made, almost under your breath, to your coworker right in front of me were neither subtle nor appropriate.
While I do understand that no one enjoys hearing the screams of a four year old mid-tantrum, any parent would be able to confirm for you that tantrums do in fact happen, many times in public. My situation this afternoon was not unique. Yes, you were correct that my child was loud, disruptive, and poorly behaved. He was also removed from the restaurant once the situation escalated to a tantrum. I took him to the car where the tantrum ran its course.
It was there that I explained his options to him in an age appropriate manner. He made an educated and mature decision to calm himself down and return to the restaurant to meet with our friend for a quick lunch.
Upon our return, I ordered a cookie and a cheddar and broccoli soup, that I successfully shared with him. It was around this time that I observed your facial expressions of disapproval, irritation, a little disgust, and judgment, from pursed lips, raised eyebrows, side glances, and head shaking. All this was more than enough to make the transaction awkward. However, you took it a step further by muttering to your coworker who was trying to finish my sale about my poor parenting. Your shoulder was turned to me as though I would not understand or hear your discouraging remarks or grunts of disapproval.
I understand that rewarding poor behavior is an ineffective teaching method. The crucial bit of information you were missing in this scenario, however, was that I was not engaged in rewarding poor behavior. I was delivering on my side of an agreement that encouraged self control and decision making.
Children, particularly young children, are still developing coping mechanisms to deal with fatigue, hunger, frustration, confusion, fear, happiness, anger, joy, nervousness, and really any marginally intense emotion. I know several adults who still get hangry or hyper tired. So is it really any surprise that a 4yr old has trouble managing his emotions when hungry, excited, and in a new place?
Now, I understand that people, myself included, are prone to judgments based on first impressions and partial information. The key bit here is that most of us don’t make it a habit of blatant and expressed shaming. Many of us too, understand that judgments are often wrong and tend to wait before expressing them so obviously.
I’m not really sure what I intended to accomplish by writing this, as I know you are unlikely to ever see it. I suppose I hope that perhaps some other worn out and embarrassed parent reads this, knows that they are not alone, and refuses to be “Mom-Shamed”. I hope your day is going better than it was about an hour ago.