Claudine Phillips

What happened when my son had a melt down in the grocery store

0487876895e76b702bcc3e7a5dac73d4Have you had one of those moments where you just wanted to disappear? Perhaps your desire to crawl under a rock suddenly rose to your surface of existence?

Today was that day for me.

Cut to the “one last errand to Safeway with an ever growing impatient three year old moment”.

With the intention to just grab milk, I pulled him from his car seat, yet again.

He says softly, “Mama, where are we going? I wanna go home.”

“Yes, baby, we are grabbing milk and then headed home.” I whispered.

“Awe, mama, please I wanna go home.” he cried.

I held him close with him pressing into me, relenting, as I walked into the last errand. He faired well for about ten minutes, but as he saw the basket fill to more than milk he grew anxious asking when we were going to leave. I ran into a friend and we chatted for ‘just a sec’, I grabbed yet another packaged of wipes and pull-ups (Dear God, when will this child poo in a potty!) and, knowing I was on borrowed time, I hustled back to produce due to a text reminding me to grab onions.

Then it happened. In the middle of the produce section, he lost it. I mean screaming, crying, yelling, hitting lost it. It was an amazing spectacle to witness. Taking a deep breath, I tried to calm him with soothing words of “we are leaving buddy”, yet he was on fire. Nothing was going to stop this tantrum. I know this child and I knew we needed to leave now. I decided the less time in the store the better and quickly progressed to the check out isle.

I wanted to die, sink into a hole, disappear, melt away….but there I was with eyes all around starring at me. I smiled here and there with apologetic eyes when I was brave enough to look up and I continued. I heard a whisper as I walked by one person, “It’s ok buddy.” I was too embarrassed to look up and thank whoever that was…”Thank you, whoever you were. You helped me feel a tad but better in my little tornado.”

I finally reached good ol Kevin, our checker. He calmly checked out our items and I continued to keep my kiddo at bay and calm. I thought I heard, “You are doing good mama,” but dismissed it figuring that it was my inner voice trying to calm my nerves. But when I heard  “We have all been there!” from another voice I began to listen. “He’s just tired…” I heard from yet another!

Kevin finished up. Still too embarrassed to glance up, I hear “Mama! Mama!” From a woman’s voice. I look behind me and she said “No, you!”  She ran from behind her counter and gave my son a yellow ballon animal.


He immediately calmed down and started talking to his new yellow friend. I don’t even know if I thanked her, I just hurried to the car, unloaded the groceries, and a gentleman came up and asked if he could take my empty basket. I graciously said yes.  He parked his cart, took my basket to the stall, and came back to get his own. I thanked him, but those words did not seem enough.

I opened my door and as this gentleman passed to go to his car he said, “Hang in there hun.”

Hang in there hun? No, “You better get your kid under control?” of “What do you think you are doing running that many errands with your kid?” or ” Don’t you see he’s tired?”

Instead, I was gifted with, “Hang in there hun.”

I got in my car, took a deep long meditative breath, and paused. I sat there is awe. I could not believe what I had just experienced. I was unexpectedly bombarded with people who came together to help my situation. To calm the child, the mom, and make it a bit more quiet in such a sweet and endearing way. They were angels.  They carried me through the store today and I just want to say thank you, whoever you are.


I pray you sleep well and know you made a difference in someone’s life today.

I want to be like you one day, gentle and giving balloons to sad children, wiser, telling young mama’s out there “He’s just tired,” or “I’ve been there,” or “You are doing good mama,” and the one that got me….”Hang in there hun.”

Do you need to hear that today? If you do, here it is:

You are doing a good job.  I’ve been there. And if I could give your troubles a yellow balloon animal I would.

Most importantly, Hang in there hun.

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