The straw that broke the camel’s back*

*Warning: Unfunny

It was Sunday, 5.30pm. I’d taken my two oldest cherubs to the library and the grocery store. We’d meandered through the aisles of the Superstore and gathered a collection of random items. Ketchup. Strawberries. Juice. Cheese. Straws. And then we made our way to the checkout.

One of my boy-children began unloading the cart. He took a pack of straws and tossed them onto the conveyor belt. It was a careless act that caused the pack-of-100-straws to sail across the ‘order divider’; landing  on the order of the customer in front of us.

I don’t really like for my kids to throw things around, or mess with other people’s stuff, so I reprimanded the guilty party for tossing the straws. Audibly. The customer ahead of us, a woman in her sixties, who’d already ridiculed my other boy-child for being upset that the straws in his pack were falling out of the package, (‘oh, what’s the big deal!) picked up the errant item and placed it back in our cart.

‘I don’t think your Mommy appreciates what you just did,’ she admonished my boy in a deliberately measured tone while gazing into his eyes. So that every ounce of humiliation and shame she was sending his way would penetrate. Thoroughly and completely.

It’s a personal pet peeve of mine when other adults parent my child(ren)….while I’m in the process of parenting said child (or immediately afterwards.) If my kid[s] are out of line and I didn’t notice, sure, feel free to speak up. But if I’ve already addressed the matter, already chided-corrected, feel free to let it go.


Unless, of course, you enjoy watching shamed-humiliated children sob for fifteen minutes…..because their packet of straws touched your groceries.

Shame on me for not speaking up.

5 thoughts on “The straw that broke the camel’s back*

  1. I am sorry your boys and you had that happen. I do not know why the geriatric generation feels they have the right to do *anything* simply because they have lived longer. Anything often includes telling younger people how to do it and how they are doing it wrong. And often when their help is not needed.

    What she did completely undermined your authority, and that is the worst thing another adult can do in front of a child. Children need to see their parents affirmed, not reprimanded.

    Perhaps if she had said something like “You should listen to your mother, because she loves you”, it would have been better. If she felt she HAD to say anything, which she did not.

  2. Soooo have been there. I think the problem is that I am also so flustered at someone saying something that I don’t have time to think of an appropriate response, and by the time I’ve gathered myself it’s too late. I don’t really think there’s ever an appropriate time for someone else to ‘correct’ your child unless it’s a situation where danger or safety is an issue. I feel your pain!

  3. oh this one gets me too. I was somewhere and my (then) 3 year old was sassing me about an instruction I’d given…I was standing my ground … However a grandma with her not yet sassy 1.5 yr old grandson said very loudly and with all the disdain she could muster “Let’s go, you don’t need to see this, YOU would never speak to YOUR mommy this way”. My blood boiled and before I thought I said something to the effect of “My son is 3 he is still learning how to be polite, but by the time he is your age I hope he has learned better then you have”. Not my proudest moment, but some things just need to be said.

  4. Thanks ladies! I think I’ve come up with a phrase for future occurrences, when I’m too flustered to speak up, but want to let the person know they’re overstepping: ‘thanks, I’ve got this.’ We’ll see if I remember….

  5. I had a similar problem recently, except it was with a friend. I’m going to try and remember the “thanks, I’ve got this” line as well. It is one of my pet peeves as well.


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