May 25, 2009

Opening Up a Can of Confrontation-Avoidance

It's pretty common for checkout clerks to make small talk with the littles. Things like, "Oh, are you tired of shopping?" or "Oh, is that your favorite blankie?"

Yesterday as I was putting things up on the belt I could hear the clerk talking to the twins softly and confidingly, so I turned on the smile I give to people who are being kind to my children. But when I tuned in, I heard that she was saying quietly to Edward, who was sucking his thumb, "That's disgusting. Don't do that. Take your thumb out of your mouth. Ew, yuck. Disgusting."

Well. I could feel that smile drop completely off my face. Perhaps you are wondering if at this point I opened up a can of whoop-ass, but that is not my style. If I can manage to open up any sort of can in a confrontational situation, it tends to be a can of sob-kleenex.

In this case what I did was push the stroller forward so that Edward was no longer within her soft-chatting zone. I stood right where Edward had been, now between her and Edward, and I continued to not-smile. I finished the transaction and I left.

Would you have done it differently? I'm interested to know what other people consider The Right Reaction in a circumstance such as this one.

86 comments:

Heather said...

I would have done the same thing.

Whimsy said...

Oh DUDE. That makes me SO MAD on your behalf! I know what I WISH I'd do, and it's to politely but firmly tell the clerk to mind her own business. But I'm more like you, and in those cases, I get absolute stage fright.

I think I need to PRACTICE or something.

(The closest I've come was telling a Walmart clerk that no, my daughter did **not** need to give him her pacifier when he was trying to be funny or playful -I GUESS???- as he demanded with an open hand that she GIVE THAT HERE in the check out line. It was neither playful nor funny from my point of view.)

St said...

OMG, right?! I probably would have done the same. I don't really know but that is OUTRAGEOUS!!
Stage fright is a good term for it.

Shannon said...

Darsie still sucks her thumb on occasion and I would be peeved if somebody did that. I would have just said that we allowed it so it was ok or something. I'm not confrontational, too. I think you did the right thing.

Kristi said...

That really makes me mad! I think I would have taken the passive-agressive approach (I'm good at that) and pushed the stroller forward while ignoring her and loudly talking to my child - something like, "Are you tired honey? I'll bet you're so glad you have your blankie to suck on!" Sometimes people can be such unnecessary assholes...

Jess said...

I might have said something, but I would have tried to make it polite. Like, "Oh, I'm sorry, but you could you not say that to him? We still allow him to suck his thumb so I'm afraid that will confuse him."

Or I would have done what you did.

Kim said...

One of the things I can't stand about myself is how far I go to avoid confrontations, even when they're warranted. I would've done the same thing you did, but boy am I steamed that it happened to you. God, some people!

sizzie said...

I am new here. Just dropped in and liked what I read. I would have handled it much as you did. You protected your child by standing between him and the offender, and that ended the threat. You were alert enough to see what was happening and you stopped it. And, most importantly from my angle, you showed your kids a good example of how to deal with intrusive people. If a first step can be non-agressive and still get the point made, then it is the right step. We don't want little ones to believe the first course of action is hitting and biting (even when that would have felt good !).

Nowheymama said...

I am non-confrontational, too, and would have done the same thing. I would have also said something to Edward after the fact, like, "What a silly lady! You know it's fine to suck your thumb." Or whatever.

It is so hard when it's your kids because you want to defend them to the death, but on the other hand you don't want to model behavior in front of them that is inappropriate (ie. slugging a checkout person).

Angella said...

Emily's a thumb-sucker, and I get little old ladies making comments to ME.

I usually grab their purses and smack them over the head.

I'm kidding. Maybe.

Actually, I do stand up for myself. I tell them that my dentist has told me that until the age of 5 or 6, thumb-sucking will do no damage to her permanent teeth.

In the meantime, it keeps her happy and I think it's cute.

Then I walk away.

(I'm feisty. I can't help it.)

Cherish said...

I think I would have just confirmed to my child that it was something that was allowed. Who cares what the clerk thought of it? What's important is how my child feels after being talked to like that. Or I might have just done what you did, and talked to my kid when we walked away.

Omaha Mama said...

Just what you did. I'm a big avoider of all things causing confrontation.

Mimi said...

I would've done the same thing. No point in having a shouting match (or whatever) with a grocery clerk, but I'm sure she got the message when you pushed him away. I can't believe the gall some people have!

Melessa said...

Under normal circumstances, I would have done what you did. Because I am a pregnant mass of crazy hormones right now, goodness only knows what I might have said. A few days ago, a Wal-Mart employee reprimanded my children right in front of me for "taking too long at the water fountain." I said in my coolest tone of voice "It was VERY hot in our car on the way over here" (it was) "and I will be their mother if it's all the same to you." Non-pregnant me would have been mortified by that.

Lynnette said...

Maybe I'm a bad-ass. I would have easily said to the clerk, "Excuse me, but I fail to see how what he is doing with his own thumb is any of your business. May we continue?" THEN I would have blushed furiously with rage. It would then be a race between my conscience and my sense of indignance to get to the car before I did something stupid and unnecessary like tell her manager.

Heather said...

I would have WANTED to say to her, "So in your world it's ok to chastise the children of random strangers?" but in reality I would have done what you did.

I am working on this though...I've got it all planned out in my head what to say to the next obnoxious teenage boy who comments on my weight and boy are they gonna regret it lol. I think we dont say anything just to keep the peace but why should people be allowed to get away with rudeness?

samantha jo campen said...

I know that's what I would have done too. But when I got in the car or made it back home I would have created this Grand Master Plan of what I SHOULD have done. Like:

"Well it sure beats screaming in your face for taking so long!"

or

"Well, I finally got him off the crack pipe so if this is his new oral fixation I'm happy with that."

or

"I know right? It's a good thing I stick his thumb in boiling water every day to sanitize it. Then swipe it with bleach--it has really helped the germ problem."

Theo sucks his thumb too and I'm so sick of people saying it's gross because of the germs.

2Forgetful said...

I think I would have said something to her if only to send a message to my child that this random person should make him feel guilty/wrong about what he was doing. OR, maybe I would have passive-aggressively talked loudly to my child about not some poor underpaid clerk make him feel bad about sucking his thumb since his Mommy and Daddy say it's okay. Geez.

Swati said...

Interesting how many of your readers, and you, find this comment, this innocuous comment made by the friendly teller damaging. My kid sucks thumbs too, and when it was ok - at a younger age - I'd not mind because kids know who to listen to, and besides you know how hard it is to get them off it? Do you think someone would stop just because the store teller lady said so? Ha! Now, that I am trying to stop the habit, I welcome any kind of comment that can reinforce my persuasive efforts.

But I guess the issue is not really about thumb sucking. It is about you feeling that - 1) telling your child off is not allowed, even if the other has the best feelings behind that; 2) the other person is pointing out your deficiency, even if that is not so, because at some level you feel just a wee bit guilty but don't think you should. Whatever. If you walked away, that was good - its not worth making a mountain out of a mole hill. Possibly there was something else which made you feel mad. In my experience, there usually is. Can be the neighbour's cat which peed on your roses, or the milk which curdled - anything which one is powerless to control but can't totally accept, and which hasn't been ranted about yet (that helps a lot, don't you think?) For instance, right now, I might have shrugged, not commented if I didn't agree, for what is the point of reading negative comments from random strangers? Yet I am writing here, and not to your liking either - because - I am sleep deprived and prone to be irritable and there are a thousand things pending and I feel like breaking apart into a hundred pieces myself. Not sensible, no, but what I am trying to point out is that given the scenario you are describing, there may be other reasons why you felt as you did whereas you may have passed it up otherwise. Or not. I can't say, but I am always willing to allow for doubt :)

TOO long, far too long, and likely not coherent, but am really too sleepy. Sorry if I disturbed you.

Misty said...

I would have been completely bitchy to her within the confines of the business I was conducting at that moment. For instance, I have a really great evil stare. Totally intimidating. Kind of like, "Don't make eye contact, biotch or I'll rip your throat out." But what I would have LOVED to say is:

"Excuse me, do you have children? Then please practice your parenting technique on them/your chihuahua and leave my kids alone." The 'biotch' would have been implied.

Beth said...

could it have been that there was a cultural difference between you and the cashier?

the reason i ask is b/c the woman who watches my daughter while i work out at the gym (in the play center) always comments that my 2.5 year old looks "sexy" when (i guess) she thinks she looks particularly cute. at first i was pretty shocked, i mean, obviously. but then i realized that she says that to all of the little girls, regardless of actual cuteness, or age of the child. (all of the kids there are pretty much under 5). she's an older woman (60s) from central america (still has a strong accent) and has been doing childcare as a career her whole adult life (13 years at this facility). she's great, and the three or so hours a week my daughter spends there is fun for her, so no big deal, but "sexy" is obviously not a term we use for our daughter.

Barb @ getupandplay said...

I think, Swati, that when someone calls your child's behavior "disgusting" that they can no longer be considered "friendly."

There are a lot of issues here- chastising a child not one's own, belittling a child for an age-appropriate behavior, and the fact that the clerk was doing this behind Swistle's back in a confidential manner. None of which are acceptable.

I think Swistle did the absolute right thing.

jamie said...

I'm sure I would have done the exact same thing you did. Before I had my kids, I never knew this kind of thing would rile me up so, Oh, but it does.

Linda said...

I don't like confrontation either, but I've had enough practice now that I can do it, and if a stranger is SHAMING MY CHILD, you can bet I'm going to CONFRONT.

I would have said firmly, "Yes, he CAN suck his thumb," to her and then "It's okay, sweetie. Different people have different rules. We follow the rules in OUR family" to him.

I disagree with Swati above - this teller was NOT being friendly. If she was friendly, she would have said, "Oh, aren't you a little too old to suck your thumb?" or something kind of know-it-all or bossy grandma like. But to call it "disgusting" and say "ick" is not a friendly reminder of social norms.

Annika said...

I would most likely, after moving Edward out of her range as you did, say to him, "Don't listen to the nasty lady. You suck your thumb all you want." And yes, I would have said it loud enough for her to hear.

jonniker said...

Swati,I find your comment kind of odd, because ... well, I don't know, is ANYONE okay with a stranger telling you how to raise your kid, or in this case your kid, how to behave? The thumb-sucking is a parent's call, not a stranger's. And parenting is perhaps THE most personal thing in the world, so to have someone, a stranger no less, step in on that is really offensive to me.

Hell, I was pissed off enough when a woman at the mall told me to let my daughter scream when she was clearly hungry, saying, "Oh honey, don't feed her. Screaming is good exercise for her!"

Letting a starving child scream = the new gym. Who knew?

Anonymous said...

I'd have been PISSED! Fortunately, (or unfortunately) I have plenty of experience with comments like these from my MIL. I've learned to ignore and or give a dirty look and I probably would have done the same thing as you, or if I'd been feeling REALLY brave - I would have said something to the clerk.
~d e v a n

Erica said...

I won't say that I consider this a *right reaction,* just *my reaction.*

I would have calmly asked the checker to stop speaking to my son in that manner. I would've told her that I was his parent and therefore would be the one to decide whether or not his thumb sucking was appropriate and that as a perfect stranger she had absolutely no right to admonish him. After my transaction was finished, I would have gone to the business center and asked for a manager. Then, I would've told him/her what happened, why I was upset, and asked that employees be trained to avoid these types of issues. I also would have told him/her that if I had another experience like this one in the future, that I'd be taking my business elsewhere and asking everyone I know to do the same.

But then again, I'm an assertive person... bordering on supercrazymotherbear aggressive when it comes to my daughter.

Kathy said...

I always *mean* to do what you did, but I end up saying haughtily "I'll parent my OWN child, thank you!" Or something like that. Some times, there are curse words/nasty names.

Badness Jones said...

I'd have loved to have told her off, but I probably wouldn't have. And she's probably one of those people who wouldn't get it anyway.

Erica said...

Just to clarify a little more, I'm a manager and a customer service trainer and her comments were completely inappropriate in the business world. You were a customer, as was Edward, and as such deserved to be treated with the utmost respect. She treated both of you with complete disrespect and went far beyond the boundaries of her job as your checker. Speaking to the manager isn't "tattling" or anything like that. It's a favor, really. Managers don't know there's a problem unless someone tells them.

Christina said...

Ummmm.. WHAT?! How old was this teller? Are we talking teenager, or grown woman?

I sucked my thumb and close members regarded it as a bad habit, but I was never told it was "disgusting" - what a horrific word choice for a young child - especially one that you do not know!

I'm a much more confrontational person so I would have delivered a line like: "Please just continue checking out my items, which is what your job description is - not to parent my child."

Although, I don't have kids so I might tone it down if I did, b/c I wouldn't want to set a bad example, or get in an argument w/ a stranger in front of them.

Natalie said...

I can be pretty passive aggressive and I would have probably done the same thing as Kristi; except that I would wait until we were walking away, and then I'd turn and give the clerk a dirty look while she helped the next person and state very loudly that some people should really just mind their own business.

But that's probably not the right approach, I think you handled it wonderfully.

squandra said...

I probably would have given her a sort of "I am having trouble believing this" look and said something like, "This ... isn't your child."

I always want my snark to be simple enough that it actually makes the person realize they're being a jackass. So, it never works the way I wish it would. :)

daysgoby said...

I guess my reaction would depend upon my child's reaction.
How was Simon afterwards? Did he cry or look confused? Or was he smiling the simple smile that kids do when adults they don't know (similar to the smile we do when kids compliment our children!)say vaguely soothing things?

Not that I would think she was any less of an ass. But HIS reaction would matter most to me.

Julie said...

I can think of all sorts of things I would have liked to have said to her, but I probably wouldn't have. I used to get "helpful" remarks about Nicky's pacifier. It always irritated me. Mind your own business, clerk, and pay attention to not smashing my bread.

Swistle said...

Swati- FRIENDLY clerk? There was no friendly clerk in this story. She was hissing and scrunching up her nose.

Christina- She was a grown woman, probably around 50.

the new girl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the new girl said...

also find Swati's comment odd, even though I agree the issue isn't the thumbsucking, per se.

I don't even think that the issue has much to do with actual parenting decisions or anything like that.

To me, the real ass-burner is the SHAME that the checker was (QUIETLY) foisting onto your kid. It's the same kind of comment that the WORST kind of MIL makes, if you see what I'm saying.

How could that NOT piss someone off on their child's behalf?

Bea said...

In real life, I would do exactly what you did.

Telling her off, though, would be really fun if it was in my imagination or in somebody else's story.

Out of all the imaginary comeback lines, though, my favourite is Melessa's: "I will be their mother if it's all the same to you." It's short and sweet, makes the point clear, and emphasizes the offensiveness of the behaviour without really giving the offender any possible reply.

Ashley said...

I probably would have started sucking my thumb....take that nosey lady :)

StephLove said...

When my son was almost 3 a woman at the bus stop suggested to him he give up sucking his thumb for birthday.

Soon after any mention of his birthday or his party would make him sob, "I don't want to have a birthday!" I was so mad at her. I should have suggested she give up butting into other people's business for her next birthday, but of course, I didn't.

DCMomma said...

There is really no reason for anyone to comment about that. Just like there was no reason for any checker to comment anything that isn't nice to a customer.
I was checking out with both my kids in one of those car carts at Giant and the checker took a microwave meal out of the baby's hands and said something like, "honey you don't want to eat that, that has WAY too much sodium for you..."

I said nothing but was really annoyed.

p.s. My 4 year old still likes his thumb.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

Ugggh. That's bad.

What bothers me more than anything that was said in particular, was that she was whispering this to your child. Adult strangers should not act secretive with children, no. thanks. .

Even the tellers who are being sweet and "consipratorial" should be doing the stage-whisper thing where the parent is still involved. That's what I did when I was a cashier during high school.

I'd probably react how you did. Not say anything, but definitely move my baby and then stew a bit about it, and stop being smiley. Yup, that'd be me too.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

Oh, dude. That was supposed to say "conspiratorial". lol. I CAN spell sometimes, I promise.

Shannon said...

I would definitely have been upset about it. But I'm also not a really confrontational person. I probably would have tried to point out my annoyance in a passive-aggressive way by make a joke like "Oh! Well, if that's the worst thing he ever does then I'll consider myself pretty darn lucky!" and then proceed to move him away as you did. She was completely out of line.

Bring A. Torch said...

I'm not sure what I would have done; I'm very conflict-avoidant but I'm also not yet a mama bear, so I don't know how royally pissed I'm going to get when this occurs. I'd like to think I would have looked the woman right in the eyeball (something else I usually avoid), and helpfully suggested where she might insert her own thumb. More likely, I would have been sure to get a good look at her nametag, and then written the management a detailed letter, including the fact that I was so "digusted" by her remarks that I'd be going elsewhere in the future. (And if I had a large family like yours, I'd delineate precisely how much money they'd be out.) Grrr, I'm frustrated for you.

Bring A. Torch said...

Sorry, "disgusted." Typing while perturbed!

Farrell said...

I would love to say that I would have told that bitch off, but no, I probably would have done exactly what you did. With not only a non-smile but probably a snotty teenager-ish face as well.

Safire said...

Yes, the teller was out of line. I take more issue with the fact that she was trying to be secretive with your child. Nothing good can come from secrets from a stranger!

I probably would have said, "Excuse me, I couldn't hear you. Can you please repeat what you said?" and stayed there until she did repeat what I heard. Then I would have said, "That's what I thought. Please point me to the manager's office." Talking to kids in line is fine. But trying to do something to a child without the parent's knowledge is NOT. Her manager needs to know.

Lippy said...

Wow, I think I would have been too speechless to say anything. I think you handled it very well. What is up with people?

Joanne said...

I am sleepy too but I am going to try to NOT be a jackass about it. :) I think any reaction to bad behavior is good, as long as it doesn't involve the smack that some people seem to be begging for.

I would have asked for the manager and I would have complained. I think it's beyond creepy to say anything like that to a child! To use a word like disgusting!

I had a similar situation a few weeks ago, and I wrote about it here: http://luckynumbertwo.blogspot.com/2009/03/story.html

I was SO mad - like mad for weeks afterward and I have been afraid to run into this cashier again. But I think maybe she no longer works there, or else I have just been really lucky. I am a confrontational person, though, I see nothing wrong with your reaction - in fact it's probably kinder and more mature than what I did.

For the record, I always say that I went right from thumb sucking to smoking! Not really but I and my brothers sucked our thumbs for a long time and none of us ever had to wear braces or anything and we are relatively well adjusted adults. :)

halloweenlover said...

Wow, that woman was outrageous. Talk about minding your own business! It has happened to me before and I always freeze up too. I had someone comment about my being pregnant while I was pushing Gabe around in a cart, as in it was wayyyy too soon for me to be having another baby. I didn't say anything, but I think an appropriate response would have been "Wow, that was rude." and then smile. People never know what to do then and try to backtrack and explain themselves.

Dr. Maureen said...

While I would like to think that I'd say something to the clerk, in reality, I'd probably be too stunned to respond. I'd find myself flipping through the mental card file to find, "Inappropriate but not physically harmful words addressed to my child, responses to" and coming up dry. But I agree with whomever said that the worst part is that the clerk was *whispering* to Edward, because that makes it all creepy. Gah.

Kelsey said...

Yes the whispering is creepy - like she was TRYING to subvert your parenting. I would have found it much less obnoxious (though still obnoxious) if she had been all, "Wow! He still sucks his thumb? How old is he?" It would still have been inappropriate, but not in a horrifying manner, just in a faintly annoyed I wish people would mind their own business manner.

I probably would have done the same thing as you - I try not to "get into it" with people we randomly encounter!

Michelle said...

Wow. That's just wrong. I probably would have interrupted with an "excuse me" and a raised eyebrow. Poor kid.

Melospiza said...

Ugh, I hate this situation. For sure I would have said something to my son on the way out, along the lines of "what-you're-doing-is-fine-and-other-grownups-can-suck-it, esp.-that-one." If I was thinking fast, I'd say it loudly to my child in the hearing of the checker. Like, "Oh, honey, WE know sucking your thumb is fine, don't we?" Unlike the bozo here, in other words.

I'm not sure that my reaction is the best reaction. Always in my internal monologue I'm thinking something like, "Kid needs to learn that people will say rotten things--but he has the power to ignore them."

I know the first part of that monologue is good, but I'm guessing beefing up the second part of that monologue wouldn't hurt.

Chatabox Girl said...

Some people can be so rude! especially an employee, who should be focusing on customer service... Not telling off your kids.

I am the same as you. I HATE any public confrontations. My heart will start racing, and all I can come out with is Um... or Uh...

I would have done the same. But if I could I would have said something to the person at the customer service desk. (thats me, problems with talking to the problem person... but none at all reporting to the manager!)

She was so rude!

Guwi said...

Verbal. Whup. Ass. No question. Her, her manager, his manager, the regional manager, and possibly the doctor working in the hospital when she was delivered. And possibly Barack Obama.

This aggression will not stand, man.

Jane said...

Oh Swistle, I am sorry you had this experience! I think the comments have been very interesting, with most of us erring on the side of not confronting. I consider myself to be someone who doesn't shy away from confrontation with people I know, but strangers are another story. The other day I was at COSTCO, where they are having a Children's Miracle Network fundraiser (one in the store and another at check-out). I was at the check out with my two small children, when the clerk asked me if I wanted to donate $1. Normally I would have said yes, because it's a dollar (although I admit I resent being asked like that because then I feel it's mandatory--my stupid issue). That day I said no because I was distracted or in a hurry or not really listening. The clerk was cool (maybe he thought I had donated already INSIDE the store), but the guy putting the groceries in the cart said, "Not a good idea, you never know when you might need it." and NODDED AT MY KIDS!! I was so flumoxed that I just said "that's true" but the clerk immediately whipped around and told the bagger to can it.

I think if my husband had heard he would have said something to the guy, but because my mind immediately went to thinking about what I would do if something happened to my kids and then the horrible GUILT for not helping someone else's baby just left me silent. In retrospect, I wish I had at the very least spoken with the manager (per Erica's suggestion above).

Regardless, people say stupid things all the time. Sometimes I remind them that they are saying stupid things and sometimes I just stew about it (and sometimes I just let it go). It depends on the offense and how pissed off I am that day already.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't have said anything to the clerk, exactly, because evidently the process at that store is to talk to the child. Or whisper. Whatever.
But I would have said to my kid (also a thumbsucker): "You know you're allowed to suck your thumb, right, sweetie?" And he would have said, "Yes!"
Depending on how pissed off I was feeling, I might have added a bonus question: "Who decides what you can do? Mommy or a stranger in a store?" But he might have answered, "I decide!" which might or might not seem funny to me at the time.

LoriD said...

I would be pissed, but would likely do what you did OR disregarded the clerk altogether and said to Edward, "Your thumb's not disgusting, is it? No, it's delicious!" Then I would proceed with my transaction in a way that the clerk knew I disapproved.

Astarte said...

You know, I've been getting more confrontational lately. I might have asked her what she was saying to him, so she would have to repeat it to my face, since she was obviously trying to hide it from you. That in itself would have shamed her, and given me an opportunity to thank her for keeping her opinions on children to herself. I might even have said that having her foot in her mouth is a lot more repulsive than a thumb, but only if I'd actually been able to think of it in the moment, which is doubtful. If she was witchy about it to my face, I might have reported her to a manager on the phone or by email, which I have done before when a cart-return guy literally stood over me while I unloaded my cart with Patrick in it, and loudly informed me that he could stand wherever he wanted to when I said that I would bring the cart back myself when I was done. I was really uncomfortable with a stranger standing so close to my baby when my back was turned, so I reported him, and boy, nothing gets a manager's attention like reminding him that there are lots of stores in the area where the employees can remember to behave around shopper's children!

Jenni said...

oscar is a thumb sucker and we've had similar situations. I ususally just say, "Oh, no! We love thumb sucking. It's self soothing. He puts that sucker in his mouth and puts himself right to sleep. It's great!"

Tara said...

I would probably have said something along the lines of, "Excuse me, but I don't think that's any of your business" as I moved my child out of the line of unsolicited correction. Heck, I tell my son (he's 4) basically the same thing if he tries to discipline one of his friends, or if he parrots a teacher or parent who's disciplining a child.

But--UGH, so frustrating. I understand not wanting to make a big deal of it--if the person responds, it could move from "teachable moment" to "total disaster" very quickly.

Jiff said...

Wow. Since becoming a mother, I've become VERY outspoken when it comes to my daughter. Where I would've before just ignored or laughed something off, I now say something to let them know I do NOT appreciate their actions/words, etc.

I probably would've said, "He's MY son. Mind your own damn business and do NOT tell him what to do." Then I probably would've been pissed enough to go talk to a manager. Probably overreacting, but I don't appreciate people telling other people's kids who are doing NOTHING wrong that something is wrong or disgusting.

Sigh.

Okay, I'm calm now. :)

parkingathome said...

I'd have licked my thumb nice and wet in the guise of needing friction to get out the credit card. Then you'll be handing her a nice, wet, slobbery credit card and you can enjoy her agony.

jen said...

I'll all about the "Excuse me???" statement. Doesn't need an answer and doesn't need to convey/defend.

Or there's always the "excuse me,w hat did you say? I had trouble hearing you?" and then when they stammer, you just keep pressing. Make them squirm a little. They'll have to say what they said, and then you can repeat it loudly for clarification! Or you can say "That's what I thought!" when they say "nothing." But either way you are calling attention to their lame asses.

You can do it. I used to be like you but the secret is to just make yourself mad to the point where you'll defend yourself :)

Pocklock said...

Oh wow. I probably would've gone all Mama Bear on her. What's WRONG with people?! First of all, keep your thoughts to yourself. Second of all, don't talk to my KID!

I applaud you for maintaining your cool.

Mommy Daisy said...

I'm like you, I pretty much avoid confrontation. But dude, really? Why do people do that? I don't get it. She had no right to say that. When she's raising a child, she can tell HER child things like that. But never someone else's child.

Mandy said...

I've been on both sides of this issue (but not with thumb sucking).

- On the one hand, she shouldn't open her mouth and reprimand child or parent for something that isn't her business. With people I know I'm non-confrontational, but with strangers I'm probably not going to see again I don't give a rats butt if I feel they are out of line. I don't have experience with thumbsucking, however I probably would have told the clerk something along the lines of "I didn't realize medical degrees were a pre-requisete to working here, you must be severely under-paid for all of your training." I don't know... I'm bitchier than usual due to pregnancy. Unfortunately I would probably cut her down like she cut my child down. On the other hand if it was something the child should have outgrown by that stage of their lives, I'm not sure if I would mind it... kind of reinforcement that the behavior wasn't socially acceptable at a certain age.

On the other hand, I have also spazzed out on parents in the past. Two instances come to mind:

1) I live in Minnesota, was out shopping and saw a mother & father and child, the parents were both wearing jeans and sweatshirts (it WAS cold) and their child was in shorts, a t-shirt and sockless & clearly freezing his arse off. It was probably rude but as we walked past I made a comment to my husband loudly about if parents need layers the baby probably does too.
- A different time a white trash woman was freaking out and swearing at her child in the toy aisle of Wal-mart, totally belittling him & being nasty, after that I pretty much made her cry and leave the store.

I was preggo during all of these instances though & cranky.

Heather R.J. said...

I would have smiled & said calmy & firmly, "Do not tell my child what to do" (smiling when being assertive tends to confuse people which is an added bonus). If she had persisted, I would have interrupted whatever justification she cared to name with a simple, "We are not answerable to you, thank you". The end.

Swati said...

Just got time to read your response - that does alter the picture from say, rose red to dark browns. I had pictured a young girl, just in college perhaps, trying to find a word to say to kids, or perhaps someone who was naturally friendly with children and not conscious of being around a stranger rather than a friend. All the same, good that you kept your cool: don't let a stranger get to you.

Michelle said...

"Confrontational" sounds like a negative thing here, when it's not - especially in this instance. Confronting someone who is behaving in an extremely inappropriate manner, in order to protect your child? A minimum requirement as a parent. I think if I were in same situation I would owe it to my child to stand up for them, and show them how to respectfully stop unkind treatment.

Tina G said...

You see, I have gotten more confrontational with age....and I would have been SO mad at her! I would have definitely said something to her (snide, mean, rude) quietly, of course, so my kid couldn't hear, and I would have not just walked out. I am a proud former thumb-sucker, and both my kids did, also. It is NOT disgusting. Nose picking? yes. But even that is not grounds for a stranger's comment. UGHHHH! I am mad just thinking about her saying that to little Henry!

Ellen said...

I probably would have said something to her and then moved the cart like you did.

HOWEVER... I have a tendency to be TOO confrontational in these kinds of situations and maybe I should just learn to be more peaceful!

I would have definitely said something to the child, at least later, so as to help them not feel badly because of the incident. Perhaps you did that already. :-)

Dawn said...

My 2 year old is an occasional thumb sucker. You have now alerted me to be prepared in the event some moron tries this in my presence. Unprepared like that, I might have actually said something really nasty. I think you reacted in a respectful way, which is really important because your children were present. The clerk was way out of line.

Secret Mom Thoughts said...

I probably would have done the same thing and then maybe told the manager too. Depending on how I was feeling that day.

Meredith said...

Hi Swistle!

Settle in, this might be a long comment! I've been a fan of the Baby Name blog (and in fact, you just posted for our 2nd boy name), but just now realized you had a personal blog! I've definitely given up the hope of cleaning during this "nap time" and instead have been perusing your blog and found a couple interesting posts that I had to comment on!!!

1. The first is this post - I don't know what I would have done in this case! I'm definitely not confrontational, but I'm thinking that when it comes to my kids, I'll be different! I can't believe that sales lady did that!!! Seriously, some people, huh???

2. I'm so sad I'm about a month late on the Baby Spacing post!!! I grew up with 2 younger sisters and we were each about 2 1/2 years apart. I guess that's what I'm used to, so that's what our first 2boys will be (having another boy in August; 1st boy will be 2 yrs. 5 mos. at that point). I'm trying to convince my husband to have 3, but he says if we have 3 we have to wait longer than 2.5 yrs, so that leaves me wondering, is there an age that women feel uncomfortable being pregnant because of high risk complications? Is the "younger than 35" thought a thing of the past? I'd love to see people's thoughts on the mother's age!!!! Maybe I'll do that post on my blog....

Anyway, just some rambling thoughts. Thanks for the help on opinions for our 2nd boy's name!!! Much appreciation!!!

Susanica said...

I am always amazed at how people feel the need to comment on the fact that Danny will suck his thumb. And last week at a Nationals baseball game a beer vendor walking by me when I was holding now sleeping toddler Danny, smiled, then leaned in and actually pulled on his arm to pull the thumb out. I couldn't believe it. Danny to his credit put it right back in.

I then informed the gentleman that Danny was perfectly fine and although I'm sure he meant well, he should not touch anyone's baby without their permission. He said "but thumb sucking is not good for a baby". To which I said, "that's fine for you to believe, but you still don't do that." He seemed chastised and apologized.

Danny is going to meet a lot of ignorant people (especially some who don't like that he has two moms) and I want him to learn that sometimes these are great opportunities to teach ignorant people something. But I was still ticked. -Monica

Heather, Queen of Shake Shake said...

I think the Right Reaction is whatever you did. I love how all the little things we do in life have a place and a purpose and, wow, can we really get it wrong?

I was a thumb sucker as a child - until 2nd grade, in fact. People said all sorts of terrible things to me. Hell, I didn't care. I stopped when I was ready to stop and I'm not scarred by it.

bluedaisy said...

I would have the done the same unless my child was upset by her comments--then the can of whoopass would be wide open ;)

toddlerplanet said...

Oh, I've confronted them. I'm a proud mama of a thumb-sucker, and I don't mind a bit.

Stacie said...

What I would actually have done: what you did.

My fantasy of what I would have done: "Excuse me, it is not your place to reprimand my child. Sucking his thumb is perfectly acceptable. You are out of line. Shut your mouth and ring up my purchases."

Brenna said...

I don't know that I would have taken it as far as "whoop-ass", but I probably would have said something along the lines of 'Don't talk to my child that way'.

Michelle said...

My favorite response to such situations:

Since he was born via c-section I know they turned on the good drugs, but I don't remember you in the delivery room. Right. You weren't actually there. So clearly you're not his mother.