One mom is seething today after an unfriendly and humiliating encounter with a store employee at high-end retailer John Lewis. The staffer allegedly approached the mom and her 16-month-old to say that the toddler’s tantrum was disrupting other shoppers and the two would have to leave.
Apparently the little one, Heidi, had just discovered the magic of walking and didn’t much care for her mother’s choice of outing to John Lewis, a high-end department store in the U.K. known for its role as — and we’re seriously not making this up — “suppliers of haberdashery and household goods.”
Heidi’s mother, Lindsay Robinson, was holding her when the toddler decided she was all done with that now and wanted to walk. As Robinson struggled to get the little one into a walking harness, she went into full toddler mode and had a noisy meltdown right there in the store. It’s almost as though the little 16-month-old didn’t care one whit about the shoppers milling about in search of fine haberdasheries.
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The mom was trying to soothe her daughter when she says the employee showed up and escorted them from the store.
We’ve all been there: You’re going about your business in some public place with a toddler in tow. Then, just as you’re deciding which spatula to purchase/whether or not you need an industrial case of bananas/your DMV number is called, your kid. Just. Loses. It. It’s embarrassing, and you can’t help but feel like everyone is staring at you as you work whatever magic you can to soothe them. Sometimes people look at you with pity, sometimes with naked disgust. Every time it happens, you reassure yourself that if anyone’s going to be kicked out of a store, it’s going to be the obviously drunk man over on aisle 7, not the kid whose brain functions don’t allow them to quietly protest your shopping trip.
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Usually nothing happens, and you’re no worse for the wear (except for maybe your ego, which may have suffered some light bruising). But if you’re actually kicked out of the store, that’s a different story. It’s humiliating, and you’ll probably end up spending the rest of the day wondering what you could have done differently. The answer, besides voluntarily cease to be in that place at that particular time, is “nothing.”
Tantrums are what they are, and what they are is a child’s normal response to boundary setting in a world where they have just begun to discover new things. When Robinson wanted to place her daughter in a harness so she didn’t knock into, say, a display of spiked meat tenderizing mallets, her kid didn’t know that it was for her own safety. All she knew was that her mom was trying to hold her down. And that didn’t fly.
When your toddler doesn’t throw any tantrums, that’s when you ought to worry.
In the meantime, there’s not a whole lot you can do except pray for the end of toddlerhood to come quickly and know that eventually it will. Contrary to what your fellow Target patrons and the odd John Lewis employee think, there isn’t a way to force your child to stop crying that won’t get you arrested.
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It’s unfortunate that as you settle into motherhood, you’ll find people who resent the fact that you, like all other adults, are allowed to be wherever you have a reason to be. It’s infuriating to know there are people who think that as long as you have a baby or toddler in tow, you should just stay out of sight and away from purveyors of haberdasheries. The thing is, that isn’t just rude, it’s a little deluded. It would be impossible to never step foot inside a department store or restaurant for three to five years.
As for Robinson, she’s been offered a whole $30 for her humiliating experience, but she doesn’t really want it. All she wants is an apology, which is something even toddlers know to cough up when they’ve hurt someone’s feelings.
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