Jan 162012


originally published december 12, 2010


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. It appeared as if perhaps I was planning to build a wine bong. 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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  133 Responses to “Officer Superhero”

  1. […] was reading Momastery a few days ago, and really enjoyed this particular post about The Tantrum. You can read it for yourself (SO well written, so funny!) but the abridged version is this: basically, both her children chucked […]

  2. You officially win the “Favorite Person of the Day” award for this. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Thank you, thank you. I’m laughing, I’m crying, thank you. I love you.

  4. This is just to say that I come back and re-read this entry every few months, for the hilarity and for the reminder to be in solidarity with all the other parents around me. Thank you!

  5. My kids are teenagers now so I cannot relate right now to what you write about but the amazing thing is that through your writting I look back and remember all the times I felt like a failure or embarrassed or crazy and I am starting to know that I was actually a good mom having normal mom experiences. Your blog has allowed me to let go of those negative stories about my abilities (or lack thereof) as a mother of youngsters and reframe those memories with laughter and grace for myself. Thanks!

  6. I can totally relate to this story! I have a 2 year old and let’s just say, we are in full blown toddlerhood. I’m sorry this happen to you, but I find comfort in the fact that I am not alone 😉 lol! Have a blessed new year!

  7. Been there….done that…I literally died laughing! Before I had kids I remember looking at kids like this having tantrums and think “What is wrong with those parents?” Now that I have two adorable little munchkins, I look at them and think “I’m sorry today is your day!” :)

    • I do that too! Only I’m not as kind. I’m usually thinking, “Thank God it’s your day and not mine!” Once one of my kids was pitching a royal one in Target (What is it about the Target?!) and some guy came running up and yanked him up off the ground and stuck him on his feet and then looked at me, and looked at my little guy, and turned red in the face, saying, “Sorry, I thought it was mine. Guess it’s not my day for it.” Tantrum over. It was pretty awesome.

  8. […] was reading Momastery a few days ago, and really enjoyed this particular post about The Tantrum. You can read it for yourself (SO well written, so funny!) but the abridged version is this: basically, both her children chucked […]

  9. Absolutely wonderful!!!! Thank-you for sharing.

  10. Oh. My. Goodness. I laughed so hard at this. I will keep the memory of it handy the next time I have to deal with a store tantrum, and maybe it will enable me to smile and fool everyone into thinking I’m feeling perfectly unruffled. Hehe.

  11. oh how i love this…..

  12. 01-22-2012 Glennon-I’m a new monkee. I”ve never been blessed with children, but reading your blog gives me more understanding of them for future times. Your very funny-love anything I’ve read from you. Saying an extra prayer for you-that God brings more Acts of Random Kindness (ARK) and more good days than bad into your life. (Thinking you should patent the wine bong thing too). Take care. . . .MJ

  13. You are overflowing with awesomeness! I believe in honest truth in mothering too, happy to be on your team.

    ps The portrait of your family at the bottom of the page is stunning, what a beautiful image to have.

  14. […] this post at Momastery about how ignoring tantrums in Target will get you arrested (and how thoughtful parents always save the day). And how, when someone tells […]

  15. I LOVE this! THANK YOU for sharing this story! I am a new to this site and I am over the moon to have found it. It is so calming to know that there are other women out there who deal with the same things I do! It is almost as if you can read my mind! And the pajama shirt and unbrushed hair thing…that’s totally me, lol! The daily, better yet, hourly struggle of being a mom without any help is totally difficult and seems almost impossible at times. I find great comfort in knowing that I am not alone and to breath deeply & laugh…Just laugh like crazy! It beats crying every time (although I do that plenty). These days I find falling head first into my role and embracing my life, the good, bad, funny, scary, crazy, calm, etc. has really helped me to “climb this mountain” in a much more positive way! Your blog is amazing and feels like a breath of fresh air, a familiar refuge, and a comfort for my fears and my tears! Let’s all just keep laughing!

  16. thank goodness for police officers that understand!

  17. Best. Blog. Ever. Thank You!!!!!

  18. When i was out east visiting family, I was grocery shopping and my son decided it would be a great time to throw a ginormous fit because we didnt go the way he thought we should….this started in the parking lot, into the store through the entire store, and back out to the car (even part of the way home). I was so frustrated, but because i was staying with friends, I had to help with groceries and we needed some things. Anyway, I was almost on the verge of crying, when a store associate came up to me and started talking to me (everyone to this point and after this just avoided me). She told me that she understood what i was going through and that even though others may not think so, i was doing a good job. I admit, i cried a little, because this was the first time someone had told me something like that. It was very much needed, and i thank her for it.

  19. L. O. L.
    Hours later. :-)

  20. My friend posted this on her facebook. SO glad she did. This was AWESOME, and so absolutely the story of my life with kids that I could relate on every level. Target or Walmart, or ANY store is sorta the devil for the kids wanting EVERYTHING. I’m impressed that you could just keep moving forward and not grab them or yell at them too. It is SO HARD when they’re freaking out and everyone is watching you. God bless that awesome officer for stepping in. I had an experience with my son a couple months ago where I had to pull out the “I see a police car over there, should I call him and tell him you’re disturbing my peace?” It shut him up immediately. Apparently, threatening my kids with jail is the only thing that works around here. Anyway, sorry I’m so long winded. LOVED the post!

  21. I try to give sympathetic smiles to parents in situations like this…or just keep walking/shopping/waiting/whatever without looking or staring…because I know how it feels. Before I had children I was one of those who wondered why these parents couldn’t control their kids and, if the child was having such a meltdown, why didn’t they just take them out of the store….oh, I was so naive. What a wonderful thing that man did.

  22. That made me laugh out loud! You are hysterical! ….and completely gifted!

  23. oh gosh. i have never in my life read a funnier blog post because it is SO TRUE. i wouldn’t have blamed you for a minute even if you were building a wine bong because that’s just how it is sometimes. any mom worth her salt can relate, and the ones that can’t probably fit back into their skinny jeans at 2 weeks postpartum. thank God for cool people like that officer. if i’d been at target near you that day i’d have bought your kids the gummi worms, you a diet coke, and probably tried to hug you. all the best, i’ll be reading here often :)

  24. Yay for Officer Superhero! And yay for you! I really enjoy your writing, thank you so much for sharing.

  25. God. Bless. YOU!
    Hope your new year is better than this one run to Target.

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