Thursday, November 11, 2010

Screaming Babies and Angry Cashiers

I heard the baby screaming across the grocery store. I heard the baby as I filled bags with almonds and raisins. I heard the tiny one's little voice echoing across the beams as I loaded up on produce and pushed my cart all the way to the checkout line. There in the next aisle over was the mom, her young toddler, and the newborn baby... still screaming.

The middle-aged cashier forced a smile at me and we exchanged the normal greeting.
"Hi," she said.
"Hi. How's your day?" I asked.
She rolled her eyes and looked to the young mom and crying baby and said, "Fine...except for that."

Here's what I really, really wanted to say...

"Oh yeah? That's bothering you?


Would you feel more comfortable if she whipped out her boob? Because the baby is probably hungry. Babies don't really know how to communicate besides crying. So would you have a better day if that young mom right there pulled out her boob for all to see so her baby can eat real quick?

Or maybe you'd prefer if she just abandoned all those groceries in that cart and left the store. Maybe you'd rather put away all those frozen bags of vegetables, those couple gallons of milk, those boxes of cereal for her toddler, that block of cheese she needs for dinner tonight, that bottle of wine she's buying for her anniversary... maybe you'd just rather her run out of the store and leave all that here for you to take care of.

Or better yet, maybe you'd prefer to muffle the baby with a sock? Or maybe just your hand? Because surely, surely you're not suggesting that you think babies don't cry. You don't really think it's as easy as saying "Baby, please stop crying" do you?

Because I would bet cash money that that mom right there, that young, tired, busy, taking care of the family mom right there... does not love that her baby is screaming to the heavens right now. You see the way she's avoiding eye contact and quickly loading her cart with all her bags? You see that?

That's because people like you keep giving her death glares, as if she wants to be out in public with everyone staring at her. As if her day hasn't been long enough already, she really wanted to come to a grocery store to pinch her baby and make it cry. That's so fun. Really.

So go ahead, keep rolling your eyes at her. That's helping."

But I didn't. I didn't say any of that, which is good (though my tongue was nearly bleeding from biting it.)

I just said, "Oh, you know babies. They need to cry. I'm sure she's doing the best she can" and I smiled.

The cashier grumphed again.

Fellow shoppers — please be nice to mommas with screaming babies. They really are doing the best they can.


  1. i freakin' love you! i miss you. i love reading your words. they way you put them together just makes my heart smile. doesn't matter what it is. you are incredible! you are such a blessing to so many. and i am sure that you are tired, but you are doing such an amazing job. so proud of you. so blessed by you. :D

  2. This is great. Before I had kids, I would be judgmental. Then, I had kids and REALIZED. Sometimes, people just forget what's like. Sometimes, people just need to look down on someone else to make themselves feel better. Now, when I see a mom having a hard time, I tell her "I've SO been there."

  3. The lady with the screaming newborn has been me, so thank you.

  4. People can be so self absorbed, and forget to have a thought about what others are going through. I've been the mother and 'ouch' I've been the cashier!
    Thank you for 'holding' your tongue, and still getting the point across! I recently over heard 2 women in a checkout line making thoughtless comments about generalities in regard to certain people, and I chimed in and made my own comment to correct their erroneous statements... Maybe they will think twice about making public thoughtless comments in the future...or maybe they will go home and talk about my rudenss?!