Let me set the scene.
It was 5:15pm in a bustling grocery store. People walking up and down aisles, filling their carts with last minute dinner ingredients. The air was full of beeps from the registers, humming of freezers and refrigeration units, conversations, laughter, and squeaky cart wheels.
I had run in with my two girls for a handful of things. Being a small town it was almost a given that I would bump into someone I knew. So, when I saw a friend and her two young sons at the end of the frozen food aisle I was not surprised.
We pulled our carts next to each others and started chatting. Elsa stayed in our cart while my friend’s boys stood next to mine. They were chatting and laughing, as you would expect from a six-year-old, five-year-old, and two-year-old.
After about five minutes of conversation an older man slowly walked by us. I saw him glare at the kids but didn’t pay a lot of attention. Not everyone loves kids as much as I do. No big deal.
Until he decided to speak.
“EXCUSE ME. While you two are gabbing, the entire store can hear your children. We are trying to shop.”
I blinked thinking maybe if I blinked enough he might wipe the Grinch-esque look off his face and start laughing or smiling OR SOMETHING BECAUSE HE CAN’T BE FOR REAL.
Oh, but he was.
“They are just being children,” I said, still wondering who this person was and why the hell he was speaking to me.
“Oh, I have raised children,” he said, shaking his head.
I found his choice of words to be very telling. He said “raised children” kind of like one would raise cattle. He did not choose to say that he was a father or that he had children. No, he had “raised children.”
I nodded and smiled at his ever growing scowl, “And I am sure they are lovely, just like ours are.”
He scoffed and muttered something as I turned my back, no longer interested in what he had to say. You see, my kids (and my friend’s kids) were being very well behaved. Was their volume louder than ours? Sure, but most children are stuck at an 11 while we typically speak at a 5. But, were they whining and crying? No. They were talking about their day and laughing, just like their moms who were standing right next to them.
I was pissed. My kids have just as much right to be able to talk to their friends in the grocery store as I do. I refuse to subscribe to the thought that children should be seen and not heard. I want to hear my kids. I want them to express themselves and be social. I want them to laugh freely and enjoy life without worry that some grumpy man is going to chastise them just because he wants to buy his frozen food in peace and quiet.
Shop from home on Amazon if that is what you want because the world, it is loud. There is laughter and beeping registers. There are old friends catching up and new friends getting to know each other. There is Muzak and squeaky wheels. If you want to shop in silence, buy some ear plugs. Otherwise, enjoy the sweet cacophony of life around you.
My friend and I said our goodbyes and I pushed my cart two aisles over. With every step I took the sound of her boys’ voices faded. Not a single other shopper so much as hinted that they may be disturbed by the sound of our children.
I sighed to myself, feeling bad for the grumpy state that man lives in. I paid for my groceries and headed to my car.
As I walked out the automatic doors an elderly man and I made eye contact. He smiled at me and said, “You are doing a great job, mom.”
“Excuse me?” I said, unsure I heard him correctly.
He smiled even bigger and gestured at my cart with Elsa in it and then at Aria, in the carrier on my chest, “You are doing a great job, mom. Look at those girls. The proof is them.” He winked and walked into the store.
I blinked but this time it was to fight back tears.
Balance, it is an amazing thing.