Dec 032010
 


So.

I’m at Target yesterday with Tish and Amma. We’ve made it through the shopping part and we’re in the check- out line. I can see the Promised Land, which is: We’re Done Shopping, Let’s Go Back Home.

I watch Amma notice a pack of gummi worms. Her eyes widen. I brace for chaos. She grabs the worms, shows them to me with tears already in her eyes and says, “I need dese worms!” I say, “Uh-huh. That’s the curse of Target. It makes me think I need all this junk, too. The Target curse is why you’re not going to college, baby. No gummi worms. Put them down.”

Now. You know I try my hardest to describe my ridiculous little life to you. But there is no way to convey to you the drama that crashed down on poor unsuspecting Target immediately following the word “No.”

Amma threw herself down on the filthy Target floor and screamed like a person who maybe just found out that her entire family had died. Amma’s particular tantrum style is that she chooses one phrase to repeat seven million times at seven million decibels until everyone around her seriously considers homicide or suicide. Yesterday she chose, “I SO HUNGWY! I SO FIRSTY! (SKULL SPLITTING SCREAM.) I SO HUNGWY ! I SO FIRSTY! (SKULL SPLITTING SCREAM.”)

This was a long, crowded line. And every time the line scootched up I had to grab Amma’s hood and drag her forward a few feet while she kicked and screamed, like I do with my luggage in the security lines at the airport. And then Tish started crying because it was all so ridiculous. And so I gritted my teeth and made my scariest face at Tish and growled STOP at her like some kind of movie monster, and this sort of thing does not tend to calm a child down. So she cried harder. People started moving away from us and shoppers were actually stopping by our aisle to stare. I was sweating like I was in a sauna, and wishing the “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” song that was on replay would just end. With the kids jinglebelling and everyone telling you, be of good cheer!Riiiight. My experience exactly.

Up until this point, I kept my head down, but it seemed time to offer my best beleaguered, apologetic, what are you gonna do? looks to the other shoppers, in hopes of receiving some sympathetic looks in return.

But here’s the thing. When I finally looked up, I realized with mounting discomfort that there weren’t gonna be any sympathetic looks. Everyone was staring at me. Every. One. One elderly couple looked so disturbed that the grandmother had her hand over her mouth and was holding tight to her husband’s arm. At first it appeared to be an effort to shield herself from my rabid animals. And I thought, I hear ya lady, they scare me, too. But then I realized that she wasn’t looking disapprovingly at them, she was looking disapprovingly at me.I locked eyes with her and without subtlety, she looked down at my clothes, then to my cart, and then away.

So I did the same thing. Down at myself, then to the cart. Oooooooohhhh, I thought. Shoot.

My stupid Lyme is back, and I’ve been sick for a little while now. Yesterday was a bad Lymie day, and so was Wednesday, so I may have forgotten to shower or brush my hair. For 48 hours. And also, when I looked down I noticed that I still had on my pajama top. Which apparently I had tucked in to my ripped jeans. Like seventh grade. I looked bad. Not like a little bad, like offensively, aggressively bad.And also, here is what was in my cart: 6 large bottles of wine and curtain rods. Which wouldn’t have been so bad if my smallest child would have stopped screaming: “I SO HUNGWY, I SO FIRSTY!”

And since I was so tired and in such a state of self pity – I couldn’t even bring myself to feign sympathy towards my starving, parched child on the floor. Because I wasn’t sympathetic, not even a little bit. I definitely remembered feeding her the previous day. Faker.

But based on all of these things, I decided to forgive the frowny, judgmental lady. I had really left her no other choice.

I resigned myself to suffer through. I stopped trying to help the girls at all. Just left Amma there on the floor screaming and Tish beside her crying and prayed the line would move faster. I am sure there were a lot of people praying that the line would move faster.


All of a sudden, a uniformed police officer started walking toward us. At first I was alarmed and defensive. But he stopped in front of me and smiled warmly and winked at me.

He looked down at the girls and said, “May I?”

I was not sure what he was asking exactly, but I allowed myself to hope that maybe he had a paddy wagon and was planning to take them away. And so I nodded at him.

The police officer patted Amma on the head gently. She looked up at him and stopped mid-scream. She stood up. Tish fell silent and grabbed Amma’s hand. All of a sudden they became a pair of grubby little soldiers. At attention, eyes shining, terrified.

The police officer said, “Hello girls. Have you two ever heard of “disturbing the peace?”

They shook their little heads no.

He smiled and continued, “Well, that means that your mama and all of these people are trying to shop in peace, and you are disturbing them, and you’re not allowed to. Can you try to be more peaceful?”

They nodded their little heads yes.


The officer stood back up and smiled at me. I tried really hard to smile back to show my gratitude.

I noticed that the girls grabbed each other in a bear hug and held on for dear life. It appeared they had lived to die another day.


He said, “Being a parent. It’s a tough gig sometimes.”

For some reason, I became desperate to be perceived by him as something other than a struggling mom, so I blurted out, “I’m also a writer.”

He looked genuinely interested and said, “Really? What do you write”

“Lots of things. Mostly a blog.”

“What’s it about?”

“Parenting, I guess.”

His eyes twinkled and he grinned and said teasingly, “Oh. Does anybody read it?”

And I said, “A few. Mostly for laughs, though. Not for . . . well, advice. Obviously.”

I miraculously found the energy and ability and space and breath to giggle.

And my officer smiled and said the following:


“You know, my wife and I raised six kids, and I think that’s actually the only parenting advice worth a damn. Just try to keep laughing. Try to keep laughing. It’s good advice.You’re doing good, mom.”


Then he tipped his hat to me and my girls, and walked away.


In the end, only kindness matters. Thank you, Officer Superhero. Merry Christmas.


The girls were silent until half way home from Target when Tish announced loudly, “I can’t believe we almost went to jail.We better not tell daddy.”

And I said, “No way. We have to tell him. What if we don’t and then he sees the report on the news tonight?”


More silence.


Joy to the World.



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  70 Responses to “Officer Superhero”

  1. […] open with the chapter “Officer Superhero” (you can read it from Glennon’s blog here).  Much to my happiness, my kids found it as humorous as I did (how could they not?).  We were […]

  2. […] see. Sometimes Glennon’s stories are so OUT THERE it’s just a wee bit hard to believe. And then there were the haters… and I read […]

  3. […] If you’d like to read a really funny story about Target, check out Officer Superhero. […]

  4. My friend is a cop. Her kids continue to scream. Heh.
    Cheers,
    Caryl

  5. […] lost to food and booze and bad love and drugs… Nine sober years, one beautiful marriage, and three kids later – I’ve learned more true things about myself and life.” Her writing about […]

  6. Since I am officially in love with you and your blog—im going and reading all your older post because I can't get enough–you make me feel so normal! This one was GREAT!!

  7. I am so glad you experienced such kindness in the face of mommy hell. joy to the world indeed!

  8. FREAKING HILARIOUS!!! I have 2 boys 5 & 6, 18months apart…no police officers yet, but definitely know THAT situation!

  9. freaking. hilarious. I am stalking your blog now and reading old stuff so don't be surprised if you have a bunch of comments from a creepy girl.

    I have so been there done that. I always say really loudly, "your life is soooo hard. keep crying. I wish I had someone to push me around in a cart. And provide for me. " I tough love her. It doesn't work any better than the monster growl. I know beucase I do both. A lot.

  10. You are hilarious. I love it! Absolutely love it. Can't stop laughing. I even pinned it :) http://pinterest.com/pin/113293746845792107/

  11. That was the funniest thing I've ever read. Thanks for the laugh! I HATE those moments, but feel better knowing I'm not the only one!
    Anne

  12. Glennon, I DO like you! My husband sent me the link to your blog, saying how authentic your writing was and that he thought I would enjoy. This is the first entry I read after your bio and family stuff. I haven't laughed that hard in awhile! I cried with sympathy and then laughed until I cried. Now I am tearing as I type this (with sympathy for myself that this is so, but grateful at the possibility that it will happen more now that I have found your blog!). Thank you! You do importantly wonderful work here and as a mom and wife. Much love, appreciation, gratitude, and respect.
    Courtney

  13. So, now that my kids are grown I finally know that behind the classic "judgmental" look of veteran parents is is a giddy, almost guilty laugh, because we know that we will hear nothing but the radio when we get to our car. The pursed lips- that's just to suppress the grin that says, "you think that's bad, you shoulda seen my little *ahem* 'angels.'" Hang in there, many women have gone before you and survived, you will too.

  14. so. . . I might have thrown this particular tantrum at my husband when I came home from work tonight. . poor guy.

  15. Oh my goodness gracious…that is hilarious! You literally almost made me pee my pants! I have shared it with so many friends with small kids and it has made their days as well! Awesome! Thanks for sharing, girl! :)

  16. My Officer Superhero story: I had my nephew in addition to my 3 girls in the minivan going to a train museum. I moved my oldest into a booster seat that day (she was well over the age and weight) because it would be a bit easier to herd the 4 kids in car seats into their seats. She was so proud that she could be in a 'big girl' seat, finally. Of course she unbuckled about 10 minutes later when we were driving on a highway and could not re-buckle. To her credit, she told me right away and I pulled over to refasten her seatbelt and swear under my breath that perhaps moving her to a booster seat was, in fact, the dumbest idea I ever had. And then, not a moment later, Officer Superhero, in the guise of a MD State Trooper, pulled up behind me with lights flashing and a full uniform (I love their hats!) and asked if everything was alright. I explained why I was pulled over, we smiled at each other, and he proceeded to climb into the minivan to refasten her seatbelt for me (hat and all!) and talk to the kids about the safety of seatbelts and the law. I was sitting on the ground outside of the van laughing so hard, but silently, that I was crying. We shook hands when he was done his talk with the kids and he told me that doing that was probably the best part of his week. I was so grateful, and more than 5 years later, my kids buckle up and make darn sure everyone uses a seatbelt!

  17. This blog seems to have fallen from the sky and land right in my computer screen. And I am so glad it did. I have laughed, laughed, laughed and cried as I've read some of the blog posts. You're my new best friend. I love your blog!

  18. This is the best thing I've read in a long time and I just Facebooked it. Your officer has had NVC (nonviolent communication) training. Spreading a little more peace in the world. You're a terrific mom, a hilarious writer, and thank you for sharing this. The bit about kindness and laughter? Spot on.

  19. Oh, Glennon! I just survived an afternoon of Sylvia screaming after her swimming lesson and it was lovely to see this post today. Sigh. There was no kind police officer. Only a woman who didn't ask me, but started to talk to Sylvia after I walked out of range. I was also mortified because I was having a very bad, very curly hair day. Thanks!

  20. This is almost too funny to be true, thanks for sharing!

  21. G –

    As the wife a policeman, who has been a superhero to many – Hooray for good police stories!

    Also, you might enjoy knowing that one of my kids worst fits ever was on Greek Row, during a trick or treat event just a couple years ago – in front of about 200 students…I was mortified. My son was so mad at me about leaving, that he was screaming at me in a way that prompted a fraternity member to say to his friend: "dude, I'd be terrified to talk to her like that" (Loud enough for all to hear) – then Ryan and Ellie both promptly crumbled to the ground screaming and crying and bad Mommying me.

    I just held my head up high and told the students that this was all a planned lesson on the wonders of Birth Control! Then I drug my kids off the row.

    The students just laughed and laughed! This parenting job REQUIRES a serious sense of humor….

    Hate the lymie news….really, really hate it.

    Kristin

  22. I have formally removed Target from the places I go with the children in anticipation of them putting a picture of me by the door with an 'X' through it.

    Superhero, indeed!

  23. Adding this to my Top Momastery posts.

    A bit worried about this Lymie business again. Thinking of you.

  24. I LOVE THIS STORY! First off, what a great man that officer was. And then, of course, I'm so relieved to know that you aren't actually perfect and that your kids have meltdowns, too. I just got those same horrified looks in a hotel lobby when 2 of my 4 kids were having meltdowns while another accidentally ripped off her toenail and gushed blood all over the lobby. It was a Bad Day. But now I know I'm not alone.

  25. There is a SAnta Claus!!! And it was that wonderful man! I have thought about going up to OTHER people's kids having tantrums and say, "If you don't stop, bad people come and get you!" but realized the parents or police may not see the humor in trying to scare the kids into submission.

  26. G – great story! One of my friends used to tell her kids that there were cameras in the ceilings of all the stores. The cameras went straight to Santa and he could tell if someone was behaving. That helped her kids act better in the stores. :)

    Praying that you are feeling better!

    Laura D

  27. I remember not wanting to shop when my kids were young. They are only 16 months apart in age. The meltdowns were many. This one particular time at Giant, an elderly woman stopped me and said that I needed to watch Nanny 911. It took every bit of strength I had not to meltdown myself!
    Thanks to the kindness of strangers like your Superhero. And yes, now I am more aware of mommies who need that kindness. It's the Monkee way, right?
    Hope you feel better soon, Glennon!

  28. Perfect post. Thanks for making me laugh and cry. truly!! The kindness of strangers is overwhelming sometimes :)

  29. Oh G–

    I tried to post yesterday, but discovered that I was in too bad a mood and was too pouty, and everything came out wrong.

    Anyhow, the first thing I want to say is that my heart hurts for you, and your Lymie-ness. It makes me want to kick my ked in the dirt and and mumble, "its not fair," like I used to when I was a kid.

    I think we should consider a class action law suit against Target. Seriously, they have seen enough tantrums by now to know that they are actually causing them. I mean COME ON! Its down right irresponsible.

    Thanks for the giggles.

    M

  30. Glennon- Totally funny post! But a little off the subject. If you have NEVER heard of or seen the documentary "Race to Nowhere". I HIGHLY recommend it!!!!!!! A MUST GLENNON LOOK AND SEE KIND OF MOVIE. Google: Race to Nowhere to find viewings near you!!!!

    That's really all I want to say right now. If you do see it…I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!

    Luv2run (Just becuase I REALLY never comment on your posts….I have read ALL of them and will continue to read them as long as YOU write)

  31. New reader here :) This sounds like me every.single.time we go shopping. Minus the Officer Superhero unfortunately. I need to find one of those!

    Thanks for the laughs, I truly needed it.

    Trena

  32. I love you Officer Superhero!! I love you, too, G! I hope that tomorrow is less Lyme-y.

  33. OH MY GOSH, I love, love, love this! And to think a cop decided to play superhero instead of being an added pain does make a girl smile with a twinkle in her eye….Merry Christmas!

  34. A friend directed me to your blog for today's story. Thanks I enjoyed the laugh! I have 6 kids, 2 married, 4 still at home… One of the 4 is a teen with Asperger. Asperger kids are stubborn and rude and have a BRAIN disorder. Of course strangers don't know this and usually have liitle grace or patience when I have been struggling in the check out line with the disabled son… I've been in silent tears more than I care to admit in check out lanes… Thanks for the smile.

  35. G–

    Whenever my (normally well-behaved, happy, smiley, and otherwise all-around perfect) baby pitches a fit in public, I tend to react as I always do when I'm nervous or anxious or otherwise feeling awkward: I giggle. Hysterically. I think it would offend people a lot less if I could at least ATTEMPT to look beleaguered and overwhelmed, but I can't manage it.

    Also, you should totally read this: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/09/party.html

    Not only is she hilarious, but it'll put your babies' melt-down into perspective — you could've been her mom!

  36. Hurray for Officer Superhero!! I have been there a couple of times over. My sweet Hannah screamed at the top of her lungs EVERY morning on the walk to Kindergarten because she didn't want to wear shoes. The neighbors would open their doors to see what was going on!

    So happy someone showed some grace in this crazy time of year! I remember the days and will let Mom's go first or give them a knowing smile. Hang in there!

    Praying for you to get some rest.

  37. This is one of the greatest mom stories I have ever read!!!!!! What mom hasn't been in the middle of their amazing little person's meltdown? Thanks for reminding us all that sometimes we eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats us…but it's all worth it in the end.

  38. Is he for hire?!

  39. G–we have lots to talk about tonight. I was just saying to Manal that I think something is wrong with Cooper b/c it is a screaming tantrum everywhere we go. SERIOUSLY! So happy to hear that Amma is keeping it alive a well. Can't wait to squeeze you in a few hours! Lots of love, Aims

  40. OMW Seriously in tears I'm laughing so hard!

  41. I once had a manager of an Office Max tell me that my 3 year old needed professional help. This was because I wouldn't let him push the 1 year old around in an office chair and he had an on-the-floor, screaming, kicking, crazy person tantrum. I found the comfyest office chair they had, sat myself down and waited. The store manager did not really appreciate this approach.

    So glad you met a hero parent on your journey today!
    Bummed about the lyme :(

  42. Glennon,

    You have such a way of telling a story that it's like we're right there with you living it. I, by the way, would have given you the sympathetic look…with 4 1/2 year old twin boys, I've had my share of Target meltdowns. You ARE, by they way, doing a great job.

    Thank you for sharing, new friend!

    Hugs,
    Shelley

  43. that was the best story ever. a friend of mine was in the same situation… as she was leaving the child started yelling "this is not my mommy, this is not my mommy". luckily there was no police officer involved in that situation. thanks for a great laugh.

  44. Great story– made me cry with laughter and "Me too!"

    Thank God for the people who understand that we're all just doing the best we can.

    My favorite Target moment was 2 years ago with the twins wailing (one in the Bjorn and one in my arms) and a 4 year old. As I tried to get my shopping done and get out of there, I realized that my gift to the world that day was to show people that their life COULD BE WORSE.

    So sorry the Lyme is rearing its head again. Praying now!

  45. Oh man. I wish this was the day that we bumped into eachother at Target…if you HAD bumped into me, you would have seen E on the floor (I've never had a child willing to throw down for a cause like that until he came along) screaming and crying, "I don't want a list!" over and over. You might have felt better when you saw that I was actually singing in a shrill, too loud voice, "It's the most Wonderful Time of the Year" over and over like a crazy person. It was so horrifying to Owen and Carter that I could see them side stepping away from me (not tantruming E, me).

    Maybe they called that magic Police Officer to stand post over there at Target to save all of us moms.

  46. hahahaha! So cute! That is seriously one of the best stories I have heard in a while! :)

    Love it.

    -Corey

  47. Fabulous story. Funny, and so very relate-able.

    But. Here's where it went sideways for me…

    YOU HAVE A TARGET!!! And a nice officer who helped with your kids???

    I will now sulk. Cause The Bay has got nothing on Target. Or so I've heard. I wouldn't know. C'mon, the US of A has invaded every aspect of my country, is taking all my water, and the least they could do would build me a Target. :)

    If my kids behave like that in public I am expected to offer them candy, toys, whatever, until they shut up and if I so much as, you know, parent them? I get the evil eyes from all around me. Yet another reason to move. That and you have wine and curtains. Sounds like a good enough reason for a visit!

  48. Rarely comment for lack of time. But this…awesome.
    Love. Love.
    Thanks for writing…

  49. nice! the girls' first (& last) brush with the law ended well for all of you :)

    so sorry to hear lymie is back. ugh. get some rest and ask for help from me anytime. really.

    i started reading this post as my usual mental escape from long meetings in rooms full of men with big titles, uniforms, suits, podiums, and such… you get the picture. girlfriend needed a laugh, a good laugh!

    even if it meant completely laughing out loud and disturbing the peace of the meeting.

    thanks for the laughs!

    p.s. – you are so brave. i am afraid of target during the holidays. i don't even have kids to bring along. also, i never leave that place without spending at least $100 on things i absolutely need. absolutely at that time.

  50. oh, and i'm so sorry about your lyme being back!?? will you PLEASE let me know if you need anything?!?

  51. oh.my.goodness!! you are so hysterical! that was the BEST. thank you.

  52. WAIT: They have WINE at your Target? REALLY?
    I must say I was laughing the whole way through this post, but then I was crying at the kindness of the officer. With 6 kids, I know he's seen his fair share of tantrums. Personally, I think you did the right thing. You'll never see those people again…most likely, anyway!

  53. I will chime right in with the hallelujah chorus of thanks for the laughs and wisdom you disseminate here. I so needed it today.

  54. Can we please clone that officer and put him in every Target and grocery in the world? We've all been there, I've "growled" more threats at my children in the checkout line than I care to count. Sorry you're not feeling well due to the Lyme, but thank you for sharing this story- as always you bring joy to my morning.

  55. So sorry to hear the Lymie has reared its ugly head again. Take care of yourself!!! I have to say I could completely visualize that entire scene. You are a truly gifted storyteller, but more importantly a gifted mom. I do read for laughs, but more and more often for guidance. Every day gets a teensy bit easier, so thank you for making today that teensy bit easier by giving me a chuckle.

  56. Laughing hysterical over here. Which Target was this and what are the Officer's hours because that is where I will be shopping from here on out.

    Oh and I am so not happy to hear that Lymie is back. Get some rest hon and I'll be praying for you.

    Jennifer

  57. What a great story!! And so many of us can relate to those Target trips!

  58. How about when you take your foot and push your child down the check out aisle b/c they refuse to put the stupid check out aisle toys down. Or you just walk off and leave them and pray that the pedophiles in the store will find your children just as disturbing as you do. So glad the police officer came to your rescue. Too bad he didn't just take them away for a few hours though.

    Sorry you are having a difficult few days. Praying for you Glennon.

    Tricia

  59. Oh my goodness! Thanks for the chuckles. You are a great story teller. I have 10 month old twin girls—I'm sure at some point that will be my reality x 2. As crazy as it will be–I feel blessed to be part of every minute, or—that's what I'll keep telling myself, now, so that when the moment comes, I won't go completely crazy :)

  60. That was the best. Thank you, Mr. Police Officer!

  61. Just when you think you're the only one that has things like this happen to them! Well – minus the Police Officer…lol.
    I'm really glad I wasn't drinking my coffee when I read your post. I would have spit it out all over the keyboard!
    G – Love and Hugs:) And thanks for clarifying the 6 large bottles of wine!

  62. What a fabulous, hilarious, soulful story. Thank you so much!!

  63. That's so awesome! I have Max convinced that every single place we go has a secret jail in the back for noisy kids who can't stay in their seats. Of course he also thinks when he lies he gets a fib dot in the middle of his forehead and I can tell right away that he's fibbing. The joys of creative parenting!

  64. Love it! Just what I needed this Friday. What a nice man! I've never had anyone actually try to help me when my kids are misbehaving at a store. Hm, nice things do still happen these days. Thanks for sharing.

  65. I looooooove this! Where are the officer superheroes when we all need them? And we all need them, sometimes! Whenever this happens to me, I always hope and pray that the people in line will part like the red sea and let me go ahead. They never do. But I *always* let a mom in this situation go ahead of me. That's my contribution to the revolution :)

    And the officer is right…you're doing good, mom….lots and lots of good.

  66. laughter. tears. Beautiful post. I'm a mom of nine, I've been there. So glad officer superhero gave you such a gift of grace.

  67. I love it. So funny they think they escaped arrest! Now you have leverage whenever you go shopping! Awesome! That officer was an ANGEL.

    I hope you are feeling better … leave the pajama top on. Who cares what "they" think.

    I read you for more than laughs lady! You help make me a better person. I am trying very hard to keep that little jerk on my left shoulder quiet.

  68. You are an amazing storyteller Glennon.

    Hopefully, this comes out right, but I think your life is full of wonderfully blessed misfortunes.

    Celebrate it all – you are doing a great job!

  69. This is a great, truly great, story! I wish that had happened to me when Sam was log rolling all over the floor of Target. But it didn't.

    And if any of us had been there, we would have helped, not stared, I'm sure. Even if we didn't know you. At least I hope that's what we would have done. But the police officer makes a MUCH better story.

    I love it that they thought they were being arrested.

    :)MK

  70. For more on my love affair with law enforcement, see http://momastery.blogspot.com/2009/10/little-help-from-my-friends.html.

    Also, I haven't fallen off the wagon, Lovies, the wine was for Christmas festivities. Promise.

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