April 25, 2006

It's All in a Look

Now that it’s finally stopped raining, my son and I have gotten back in to the habit of walking to the grocery store. Actually I walk while he “strollers”.

Grocery shopping with a two year old is getting tough. This past weekend was even tougher. To begin with, I’ve been fighting this depression thing so I’ve not been thinking clearly. On a side note, today is the two year anniversary of my mom’s death and I’m excited to report that I’m having a fairly productive day with no bouts of depression so far! Anyway … back to the shopping adventure. As I said, I wasn’t thinking clearly which just has to explain why I went knowingly in to the grocery store unprepared. No snacks for V. No crackers. No cheese. No pretzels. Nothing. It didn’t take long for him to start the “I want a cookie” dance. Under normal circumstances, I would have immediately pulled out an alternative snack to offer him which would have ordinarily put the cookie dance on hold. But I was unprepared.

I’m definitely not one of those mothers who can tune out their whining, crying child while continuing to shop as if nothing is happening. I will, without hesitation, immediately walk out of a store to calm V down before subjecting innocent bystanders to his tantrums. Luckily for me, his tantrums are few and far between (I know, I know, it’s only a matter of time). This past weekend, my head cloudy and not thinking clearly, I relented and bought him a cookie to eat while I continued to shop so that I wouldn’t have to listen to him cry and so that I could finish my grocery shopping. It worked perfectly. He didn’t make another peep as he sat completely engaged in his effort to eat every morsel of his Starbucks Chocolate Chip cookie. Nothing but the best for my little man.

Admittedly I felt a brief bit of guilt for giving in and getting him his cookie. The guilt quickly gave way to my justification process. He had eaten a healthy breakfast, lunch and snack. We ran around outside quite a bit during the day. He was a perfect child all day. Justification. Justification. Justification.

While in the check out line, the 19-year old checker made a comment about how cute V was with chocolate all over his face. Looking down at V, smiling, I agreed. He’s definitely cute. On my way back from the glace down at V, I made eye contact with a woman who had just finished paying for her groceries and was walking past me while headed to her car . In a matter of a half a second, her judgmental look of disgust stabbed me like a knife in the stomach. What was I thinking giving a 2-year old a chocolate chip cookie rather than a healthier alternative?

Without thinking, I reacted. I told V that he had enough of the cookie (it was about ¼ of the way eaten), and took the rest from him and threw it away. He immediately started crying, but I was on my way out of the store so I didn’t mind. The crying only lasted about 10 seconds, so it wasn’t disastrous – but no sooner did the cookie land in the garbage can that I was mad at myself for reacting that way to the woman’s look of disgust. She doesn’t know me and how I raise my son. She doesn’t know how well he ate the rest of the day. She doesn’t know anything about his diet. And what the hell is wrong with a cookie now and then? Why is that so bad all of the sudden? I know, I know .. because we live in a society overrun with obesity. I’m aware of that. And I’m also aware of what foods I expose my son to – both good and bad – and a cookie now and then is not a bad thing. Why should I feel guilty? I shouldn’t! So why did I? I don’t know!!!

All of these thoughts running through my head suddenly halted when I spotted a fancy sports car at the neighborhood car wash. It was a blue convertible with a clean cut man in his mid-thirties climbing in behind the wheel. He began pulling out on to the street just as I was approaching the driveway. Suddenly his wheels screeched as he gunned the engine and got a bit squirrely. We made brief eye contact. This time it was me who shot a complete stranger a look of judgmental disgust. In the same instant, the look on his face communicated an “oops … didn’t mean to do that”. By the time his look registered he was already past me and I was left feeling simply awful about passing judgment in exactly the same way judgment had been passed on me only moments earlier.

So, for the clean cut guy in the fancy blue sports car – I apologize. My lesson has been learned.


Post a Comment

<< Home