I had a bit of an "experience" at Costco recently.  I was cruising the aisles with my kids, loading up the cart when we stumbled upon one of the sampling ladies.  This silver-haired gal was pandering whole wheat crackers with crab salad on them.  I was happy to partake in the whole shebang, but I knew my kids would think their throats were melting if they had a taste of the crab salad.  So, I reached toward the back of the tray where there was a stack of "crab-free" crackers.

Guess what happened?

Grandma Costco slapped my hand.  Yes. She. Did.  And, it was not the softest slap in the world.  As I recoiled, she then said very loudly, "NO! NO! NO!  Do not touch that.  You must have gloves!"  How was I to know that I could touch the crabbed crackers but not touch the un-crabbed crackers stacked on the same tray.  

It was so incredibly awkward.  There were a few other shoppers who witnessed it all, and they would not make eye contact with me.  They could have been equally appalled at my "nerve" to reach for a cracker.  But, my guess is that they were embarrassed for me.  

I sheepishly accept the cracker from Grandma Costco and then walk away on the verge of tears.  I want to crawl into the mountain-high stack of paper towels and hide right now.  I am a grown woman.  How did this person just shame me and make me feel like I am 4 years old?

And then, it hits me.  Hard.  My daughter is 4.  Is this what it feels like for her to have me publicly chastise her?  

I am not one to physically swipe at my kids, but I definitely can bark out a criticism before I think it through.  I know I have seen that same look in my daughter's eyes.  

It is a good reminder for me.  I want to think before I speak.  I want to choose my words wisely and make sure I am aware of the context.  Will I always do this?  I am sure I will fail.  But, I hope, hope, hope, that when I fail at this, I will be quick to hug my children and apologize for making them feel so small.


  1. What a weird experience!
    But I love the perspective you took from this. I think about this a lot- how my kids and kids in general feel when we react the way we do.
    I see public discipline A LOT, and it always hurts my heart a little bit, the shame that is written on the child's face.
    I don't generally do that stuff in public, but sure need to work on being more careful at home.
    Thanks for the reminder,

  2. Wow! This is an insight! While I know that there will be many public situations in my future which require discipline in that moment I am really going to think about how I reprimand in public and make sure that I am not heaping humiliation on to my instruction.
    Good stuff today!

  3. Ok, so yeah that was a little odd of that lady (and rude of her!) but wow, what a life lesson for you! I guess I hadn't thought of it that way either! Thank you for sharing this! I am not one to do that in public either (I'm that mom that brings them in close and whispers what their punishment will be if they continue to act how they're acting, and if I need to discipline, I will take them elsewhere). Thanks for putting it all into perspective!

  4. I had a similar experience the other day in Trader Joe's. I was so excited to make a quick run in for a few things without my kids. I was still nursing my coffee and I grabbed a couple of things with my other arm. I was on my way to check out until I passed by the samples table. There were two people already there speaking with the samples "chef." As I reached for the delicacy....the container of salsa slipped right out of my arms and SPLAT onto the floor. It only splattered on me but it did make a huge puddle.

    Now, I have seen things broken and spilled in TJ's all the time. I was embarassed of course but never expected the samples lady to look at me and say, "you have too many things in your arms and you should use a basket next time." I was so humiliated. I could only respond with, "I come here all the time...." I didn't know what to say. I somehow wanted to prove that I do know how to use a basket and how to shop without spilling. I wanted her to see that I'm responsible. She then said, "two people have already spilled things today." I also walked away to purchase my food with tears in my eyes....and outrage.

    I love TJ's and had never been treated this way. I also made the connection that Ali made. When do I jump too quickly on my kids' mistakes...especially in front of others. I am thankful for that lesson and realization. I also called the manager an hour later to complain. I'm curious to see how I will feel when I see her in there next week. Will I still go for her sample or give her a sample snub. We'll see.

  5. Love, love, love how you found a lesson to learn in that otherwise shaming moment! I have a four year old daughter too and if she knew to, she would thank you for writing this!

  6. I am on the other side of the fence. I rather have people look at me with that judging eye than let my kids run wild. I think a slap on the hand or a firm repremand is perfectly acceptable. If the gray haired lady was YOUR mother would you have been as embarrased? Just like strangers have no right judging how you discipline your kids, she didn't have the right to slap you. I would have demanded free crackers from the management ;) There were two situations that I was repremanding my daughter verbally and both times (at Dairy Queen and the Phoenix Zoo) I left the situation the proverbial "winner". In the restaraunt a woman told me I was too hard on my daughter for spilling red juice all down the front of her (from shaking the cup with a straw) right when her child fell off the chair he was STANDING on and landed face first on the tile floor...score one for me! At the zoo I was scolding my daughter for climbing the glass wall to the monkey pit and a woman said "she is just a little girl, let her have fun" I said "I am her mother, I can handle it" the woman looked at me and then proceeded to flip me off and say f..u - wow, yeah I won that one too! I have gotten a hundred compliments on my children's behavior in public and two judgements of my "stern" parenting... my kids are HAPPY, goofy and as well adjusted as the average kid - I'll continue to dicipline in public with hand slaps and my "mom words" and because of that I hardly ever have to do more than that!

  7. Emilie- I appreciate your perspective. I am all for discipline! Believe me, I am on it with my kids. I just think that, for me, there is a type of discipline that still shows my children that I respect them. I do not want my kids to be my best friends. I am their mother. I desire for them to listen to me and to adhere to my rules. But, I know the difference between using a stern voice and reprimanding my kids when necessary in public and jumping all over them in a frenzied manor.

    In that moment in Costco, I felt misunderstood and I felt like all that gal had to say to me was, "Please do not reach across the tray for these crackers." I know there are plenty of moments where all my children need is a simple, calm instruction or steering towards a better decision. That is where I want to be growing.



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