To My Grocery Store Grandma

Dear Well-Intentioned Lady at IGA,

Last night, you were unlucky enough to be in the pickle aisle with me and my child. He was crying, and I know no one likes to hear a baby cry. You were concerned, which I appreciate, so you came over to see what was wrong and if you could help.

I’m sure you’ve calmed dozens of babies in your time. I’m sure you could calm my baby. For a minute, you did. And I was glad. But the next time you offer your service to a harried mother, do me a favor and keep a couple things in mind.

First of all, for the love of Pete, don’t touch the baby. Specifically, don’t rub your fingers all over the baby’s face and hair. You know that you are all Purell-ed up, but for all I know you just came from the restroom or a smoke break or the meat counter. And it makes me cringe.

Secondly, don’t give the mother passive-agressive suggestions on how to do a better job under the guise of talking to the baby. “Just tell Mommy you need some attention. Tell her to talk to you while she’s shopping.” These things are not helpful. Assume that the mother is reasonably attentive and that she’s doing the best she can. “Tell Mommy to pick you up and carry you” is not helpful either. If this mother is like me, she is kicking herself for leaving the Ergo at home. And she is really, really trying to get out of the store as quickly as possible. Odds are, she doesn’t like hearing her baby cry any more than you do.

So, dear lady at the IGA, I appreciate you worrying about my little boy. I wasn’t trying to torture him, I was only trying to grab a few basics and get the heck out of dodge. And if seeing my baby cry made you sad, you should have seen his sister cry that morning because she wanted cereal (and milk. and bread) but we were out. Yeah, you would have definitely been clucking your tongue and thinking “I never…” in your head if you’d have been there for that one.

Next time you see a mom whose baby is crying while she’s rushing around the grocery store trying to match coupons and avoid high-fructous corn syrup and get everything on the list, just offer an understanding smile. And then get out of the way.


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27 Replies to “To My Grocery Store Grandma”

  1. Doesn’t it amaze you that people think they need to have long involved conversations with you just because you brought a baby to the store??? It drives me nuts!!!

  2. Totally feeling you on this. It’s right up there with the “Preggo-Mom-Belly-Feel-Up” by creepy strangers.

    That Thomas family rule, #11, penned in my Unc Meatball should be shouted from the rooftops:



  3. I didn’t even know IGA still existed!

    In a weird way, I’m glad my kiddos are past that stage… now they are the ones you want to hide your children from.

  4. Hear, hear!!!! Very well said.

    I’m single and I don’t like hearing a baby cry in a store either… but you know what? That’s their job! They cry, they coo, they yell, they scream…. get over it folks.
    And like the lady said, get the hell outta the way!


  5. I agree with you. But, I have something to add. Once, I had a new baby (think this was the 6th one) and I was trailing three kids, toddlers and non-school kids at the grocery store. The baby was flipping out, completly freaking and screaming. I couldn’t really sit down anywhere and nurse, and this lady came from nowhere, asked me if she could help and took the baby. She calmed her down, held here and followed me around while I picked up the basics. I have never been more grateful for an adult helper in my life. She was a Godsend.

    Of course, this was my personal experience, and it wasn’t the same for you, I am sure. But, the lady’s intentions were good, and at least you let her try to help you. I’m sure she’ll talk about it to her daughter/son and grandkids… About how this poor lady was trying to run through the grocery store and she was able to help her a bit through her hectic day.

    PS. As for the Purel thing…well, call me silly, or maybe you will find me uncaring after having 7 kids, but over-disinfectant use is not too good. It’s not horrible to expose your children to regular germs. Especially if you are exclusively nursing, your baby immune system is much stronger than you can imagine. I’ve been through massive Norwolk flu, and various school-brought colds, and never once did the babies catch it when they were breastfed. 🙂 Maybe I was lucky, it is possible. But, I do stand by letting my children experience the world a bit and get used to it’s everyday germs. I was also raised by a nurse, btw, so I was taught to wash my hands well with soap and warm water, which I teach the kids to do. The Purel-type stuff was not aroudn back then. 😉

  6. You nailed that one on the head! I bought a shirt for my little girl that says “My Mom Doesn’t Want Your Advice”. Blunt and to the freakin’ point! Works like a charm, even to this day!

  7. Bravo, bravo. It’s the passive-aggressive talking-thru-the-baby stuff that drives me nuts…

    (It’s okay Rosie – I liked hearing your story, too. It’s good to remember that there are some truly helpful people out there, but there are also a lot of just judgmental irritants….)

  8. You’ll enjoy this one! I had a JCPenney Grandma today while I was out shopping with the girls (at the 3rd mall of the day!). Their patience had run out some time ago and they had had enough and were playing near the escelator. I had asked them at least 3 times to move away, but they did not. Then, the blessed JCPenney Grandma stepped in and said, “Girls, the escelator isn’t a place to play.” Normaly I don’t like such nosy people, but this lady was a Godsend. Faith was so embarrassed for being “scolded” by a stranger that she was good as gold the rest of the time we were out!

    I immediately thought of your post and how pesky your IGA Grandma was… and how a few years may change your opinion of pushy old ladies who interfere while shopping.

  9. Well, ain’t that the gospel!!!!
    I always try to put part of my body between “those people”. And you know it’s sad that “those people” don’t know we all talk about them.

  10. I’m a married father with a very opinionated, temperamental and active 1.5 year-old son.

    What really annoys me are “well-intentioned” women (of any age) who assume that, just because I’m a man, if my boy is acting up or making a fuss, I can’t handle the situation and I’m in over my head. Things have changed in the last 50 years ladies and a great many men are active in their children’s lives and are doing a fantastic job.

    If, for some reason, you see what you feel is a man in need of help, and you can’t resist, politely asking if help is needed (and taking acceptance or rejection graciously) would be appreciated. We’re not all helpless you know.

    (And that passive-aggressive talking-to-you-via-the-child thing is the worst.)

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