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.