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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What would you do?

Hey guys? I need some advice. This is longer than usual but if you could read to the end and then weigh in I'd appreciate it...

The other day we went to Costco as planned and just as I feared, Michelle Paul (the baby coconut) was buckled in and ready to make the trip.

The outing was uneventful. The coconut got plopped in the shopping cart and, frankly, there was so much food in the cart only a few people noticed her. I got a couple strange looks but nobody said a word. Mostly they just wanted to shove by us and get to the free samples because they were handing out delicious cream puffs--who can blame them?

And then we went to Target.

We only needed three items so the coconut-baby was much more prominently displayed. A few folks stopped us to ask good-naturedly about the kinda strange looking green thing swaddled in a too large shirt what exactly we had in the cart. And of course we ran into a friend who just laughed and remarked that she wasn't the least bit surprised to see one of my kids pushing a cart with a coconut dressed as a child. I'm still pondering that remark...


Anyway, it was all good until we went to check out. The line was fairly slow, and an older lady was behind us. Emily had taken the coconut-baby out of the cart and was cooing, "Mama wuvs you, Michelle... " The lady (we'll call her GOB - short for Grumpy Old Bitch Bag).

GOB: Child, what is that awful thing you have wrapped up in that blanket?

Me: (Interjecting to take the situation out of Emily's hands) That's her souvenir from vacation! She's so proud of it and she's having a ball!

GOB: (voice dripping with disdain and condemnation) Yes. But what is it?

Emily: (looking wounded)

Me: (Frantically using mommy code to try and get this old biddy to change her tone) It's a coconut! Isn't it sweet the way she's decorated it with a face and dressed it in one of her shirts?! I love how she uses her imagination.

GOB: (Silence. Shakes her head. Passes judgement) Maybe you should consider buying her a baby doll so that she doesn't have to drag that rotten thing around.

At this point our items had been bagged and the cashier was awaiting my attention. When I was finished the girls had the cart loaded and were heading deliberately towards the door. I shot my best "you suck" look over my shoulder and followed them out.

I spent the next several hours replaying the scenario as it would have happened in the world according to me -- where I would have had witty, cutting retorts to slap GOB into place and embarrass her for having pitiful behavior. I hate that I stood there and threw subtle hints rather than telling her to lay off my kid. I feel as though I set a horrible example. I didn't exactly stand up for Emily.

I was brought up to be kind and considerate, but what do you do when the other person isn't playing by the same rules? I don't really want to engage the person in some sort of verbal sparring match because I'm not quick with cutting remarks. I'd get torn to shreds and I don't want my kids to see that either. I've been sitting on this post because I'm embarrassed. And I hate the embarrassment with every fiber of my being. I hate that I can't figure out how to shut-down stupid people and show my children by example how to stand up for themselves in a strong, yet civil way. If given a choice I'll let myself be walked over like a doormat rather than make a stink and I want my girls to be stronger than that.

So.

What should I do? And I realize I could leave the coconut at home. This isn't really about the coconut. I understand that we kind of opened ourselves up for this but occasionally you get this sort of thing and you aren't acting like a Looney Tune. How do you guys handle it? Take the high road? Tell 'em where to get off? Ignore it?

63 comments:

K said...

I think you're doing it.

All you can really do is support your kids. You let her bring it and you tried to get the old lady to lay off. I think you did just fine.

ScoMan said...

I don't know, I'm some guy living on the fringe of society with no children and no idea when GOB's are judging him, so I don't know how useful I will be.

I think your kids happiness is more important than some GOB's opinion. If your child is happy, let the GOB's think what they want.

Either that or every time you go to the shops is "nap time" for Michelle Paul because "growing babies need their rest"

Megryansmom said...

You handled it exactly as you should have, with your kids in tow. It's far more important to teach them to be considerate, even of GOBs. I might have turned as I was leaving and so that the kids couldn't hear and mumbled, "I'll pray for you today, because you need it"

Shawn said...

I think you handled it just fine. She was the one with the problem, not you.

Tammy Howard said...

I am in complete agreement with the above commenters. You were the better person and THAT is a great example to set for your kids. There was no reason to lower yourself to her level and you didn't. Kudos.

Kathy B! said...

I guess I just made a mountain out of a molehill. I simmered about this for the better part of a few days. Maybe that's the bigger issus is learning how to let things go :)

blueviolet@A Nut in a Nutshell said...

First of all, that wasn't a long post. At all.

Secondly, I liked how you handled it. You modeled exactly what you would want your daughter to do in those situations in life. You showed how to take something that's perceived as different and look at it with a positive spin. I thought it was brilliant. You can be positive that your daughter noticed and learned from your fine example.

That being said, your over the shoulder look of death on your way out....well played!

Gibby said...

See, this is why you should extract the milk out of the coconut and keep it in a squirt gun for people like this.

Kidding. I hope Anon Mom doesn't read that. (Hello!)

Anyhow, I think you did the right thing. Personally, I give you kudos for even taking Michelle into the stores. I would most likely talk my girls into leaving it in the car, thus squashing their creativity and joie de vivre. But you are a good mom like that and I think the mere fact that you addressed that GOB showed your kids that you were sticking up for them. Well played!

Kate said...

I think you did good. I wouldn't have said anything either. If she wants to be that way let her but you don't have to stoop to belittle her like she did to your child. I am surprised how many people can be like that and WHY??? Keep smiling and have a great week.

Alice said...

I think I would have said, "I'm sorry, this is your business why?"

Rachel said...

This totally sounds like something my oldest daughter would do.

You did just what I would have done, too. I would have made sure to emphasize what a great imagination your daughter had, so everyone in line could hear.

I get irritated by comments/suggestions from GOBs in grocery stores, too (do you know how many times I heard "Why isnt' that baby wearing socks/a hat?!?!") but I usually respond: "Well, she looks pretty happy to me!" and let it go almost immediately.

Cassie said...

Inconsiderate people suck. I think you did well. I on the other hand would have shot back with some wise ass remark. Just because you didn't cut up the GOB it doesn't mean that your kids will grow up to be pushovers. Stand tall Kathy B !!! You dun gud :-D

Tsquared417 said...

I think you should let the girls take Michelle anywhere they want and everywhere they want. I think you handled it well. :) Was Michelle's mom upset or was she ok? If she was ok, then you did fine.

Tisha Doyle said...

Saying "I'm not interested in your opinion" wouldn't be nasty.
You did great!
Tisha

Meg said...

Hmmm...by myself (carrying around my coconut baby) I would have told her to fuck off.

With kids, I would have ignored her first question. If she had pressed it, I would have said something along the lines of:

"You know what, lady, nobody asked you."

Had she pushed it further:

"Do you really think I care to listen to you?"

You were totally right in not turning that scene into an episode of Jerry Springer, which sets a baaaaad example for kids.

There are some older folks who think that being old is an excuse for being rude. Your kids (all kids) need to know this is wrong. This is also one of the reasons I hate living in the South. Southerners think it's okay to get all up in yo bidness and think it's okay to say what they want. (send your hate email to uptightyankeebitch@biteme.com)

Kids do need to know that polite is important. They also need to know that sometimes grown ups can be really rude and they don't have to take it just because they're kids.

But most importantly, no kid should ever, ever be made to feel like a weirdo because she is using her imagination. Ever. (This from a former little girl who had 17 imaginary cats who followed her everywhere, even on the trolley.)

Oh, and go this post about Steve's kid who adopted a cabbage:

http://www.thesneeze.com/2003/cabbage-fever.php

You're not alone.

i am the diva said...

if you're still worried about it, you could sit down with mommy and coconut and explain how proud you are of her for being such a good mommy and how you love her imagination and how even though sometimes older people get grumpy, it's only because they've lost THEIR imaginations and they're jealous.

Mary K Brennan said...

First may I leave a small note to Emily? Hey cutie, you are so lucky. Not only did your Mom let you keep that coconut, she gave you a better gift...imagination. The world can be a cruel place, but you have been given a gift that few parents for whatever reason forget to pass on to their children. This experience is one you will never forget. There is only one rule. Remember to pass that gift on.
To Kathy: Embarrassed you say? No way.You answered that woman's question kindly. Whatever comments she may have added were cruel, but you never stooped to her level. How is that for a lesson? Kids need to learn to stick up for themselves by also being kind; a trait that is often second to throwing a fist or hard words. There are many things you could have said, but at the end of the day you walked away with dignity. You're doing a great job. Keep smiling. I hope you have a car seat for that coconut!

Tiffany said...

I think you handled it beautifully. As much as you probably wanted to punch the old bag in the mouth so that her dentures fell out onto the floor, you showed your daughter to "respect your elders" and to "treat others as you would want to be treated" which are the same lessons that my parents tried to teach me. I would like to think that I would have handled the situation just as graciously as you did. But I totally get where you are coming from. I have always felt like I never stood up for myself either. Of course, I only felt this way about rude people who were bullying me. Another saying from my parents: "you lay with dogs and you will get fleas". Maybe it's a good thing we don't sink to the level of others like the GOB!

koopermom said...

Don't give the GOB another thought. You are great for letting her bring her coconut doll shopping with her. She'll get rid of it on her own when she's ready.

Ryan Ashley Scott said...

Encouraging her to bring Michelle and playing along with her imagination is one of the best things you can do for her. It's a show of support, and it will empower her in such a way that her self esteem won't be bothered by such GOP's nearly as much as it hurts you, as her mother.

We can't protect them from everything, and crappy things like that will ultimately help her figure out how to deal with it. You showed restraint, and by you not making a big deal about it, she probably feels less hurt about what that grouch said. The biggest thing is that you are supportive. I admire you for going along with her play, really and truly, you are fabulous and your kids will be better people because they are encouraged to express themselves and not worry about what other people think. (I'm sure that's what your friend meant when she made the comment)

sunnymom said...

I have had GOB's confront me on stuff with Tooter's and most of the time I ignore them or tell them, "That is your opinion but we will do things our way." But if it is something like that my claws tend to come out. Usually I end up saying something I shouldn't but makes me feel better for a moment to defend my daughter.

I was raised to be kind and respectful but there are some people that just bring it on themselves. Besides we all are allowed to lose our tempers at something like that sometimes.

I commend you on how you handled it tho.

P.S. there is an award for you at my place.

Kim said...

Well, that lady (GOB) was obviously a horrible mother who never let her kids have any imagination or fun when they were growing up!

You should have asked her if she wanted to hold Michelle or maybe change her diaper! :0)

You are a great Mom and good for you for letting your kids be goofy and have fun in this life! I am sure your daughter will remember this little moment of fun for the rest of her life and will most likely share it with her kids.

Way to go Mom!

LadyFi said...

First off - I think you DID stand up for your kid. You said she was proud of her coconut and you said how sweet it was.

Perhaps next time, you can just add that you support your kid and her wonderful imagination (you said that last part) and maybe just add... You're entitled to your opinion, but it's very thoughtless to hurt a young child. And now, I have nothing to say to you.

We have a GOB (Grumpy Old Bat) - I've even posted about her too! - and I've learned that she just won't listen. The best thing is to ignore her, or to kindly but firmly tell her to butt out.

As for Michelle - why leave her at home? It's a phase - let your kids enjoy it while it lasts!

Oh - just one other thought... Maybe if this happens again, you could let Emily answer the question herself. Kids are very good at giving simple answers that might just stop the conversation in its track...

Sorry about this long answer - it's nearly as long as your post!

Hope it helps...

Kristina P. said...

Here's what Miss Manners advocates.

You say, "How kind of you to take an interest.", said in a very cold manner, and then you turn around and walk away.

zelzee said...

I would have fretted like you did for days, too....woulda, shoulda...coulda.....

But, you handled the situation perfectly! You could have added, "Really must run, because Michelle Paul needs her bottle"....

And, you stood up for Emily just fine. You are teaching them to be kind and considerate, yet stand up for their beliefs.........

Stop fretting......

The Blonde Duck said...

In my perfect world of the Pond, fire breathing Chihuahuas would have leaped onto her head and turned her into a living human torch as you shouted, "It's a baby, b****! A baby with feelings!"

Anyway...

Please let her take the fruit baby everywhere. I do like how you stood up for her. Her creative spirit needs to be free!

And feel free to snarl and borrow the fire-breathing chihauhaus whenever. They're on the back porch. Just grab them!

CynthiaK said...

Looks like you've got all kinds of support here for your decision to take the high road. And, of course, I'm in agreement. While it can take every ounce of calm you can muster when these things happen (or, if you're like me, take extra ounces of wine to get over for days after the fact while stewing about it), it's worth it to keep your cool. And, you did.

I mean, it wouldn't have been the best example of mature, respectful behaviour to pick up Michelle and thrust her into the face of the GOB and ask "but how could you resist a sweet face like this", then proceed to bonk her in the forehead with it.

Really. You did the right thing. You set the best example for your kids. And, don't let others' bad attitudes bring you down. That's exactly what they're aiming for.

evenshine said...

To GOB- "A baby doll? How kind of you to offer to spring for one."

Sha-zam.

angie said...

You did the right thing.

Why should you have to leave the coconut home, though?

Some people are just bitter and mean spirited.

I ran into one on Sunday! :)

D said...

You could have said, "I'm sorry you feel that way, but we just adore her."

I can never think of the right thing in the moment.

peewee said...

you were awesome. She's lucky i wasn't there cuz I maybe woulda crawled over the counter and slammed her face into the scanner.
But that's just me.

Also? next Time...I'd be all "what do you MEAN coconut baby?...SHE'S A REAL BABY!!!" and do it with and eye twitch. That shuts people up REAL fast!

(oh, and also talk baby talk to michelle, and then MAKE GOB say sorry...to michelle!)

Minxy Mimi said...

Hmmm.... Well, what else could you do? I like the way you emphasized her using her imagination. So few kids seem to nowadays. Plus, IMO, you dont want your child to see you being rude. 2 wrongs dont make a right. I would have just left it as it was and also given her a look... I think you did well. Sorry the GOB was rude.

Lynnette Labelle said...

Here's a reply you could use if someone makes such ridiculous remarks in front of your daughter again... "It takes a lot more imagination to use a coconut as a baby than a doll. Creative people go far." LOL Or something like that.

Don't worry about the whole situation or what other people think. For crying out loud, it's just a coconut. She was acting like you had poop or a dead bird in the cart. Why can't SOME people just mind their own business?

I don't know that you could've really done anything differently. I think the woman would've become combattive and you wouldn't have wanted your daughter to witness that. You did good. Pat yourself on the back.

Lynnette Labelle
http://lynnettelabelle.blogpsot.com

Susie said...

I think you did a really good job. The only thing I would have added would be "then, I am glad that your opinion is not important to us."

Nana said...

I have done all three.

My kids like it when I take the high road, less embarrasment for them, so don't feel so bad. That old bag has to live with her ROTTEN self.

My problem is I can usually think of some sarcastic thing to say. When I do I really don't feel any better.

faemom said...

Wow, the comments were as good as the post. I think you did well. I would have said, "Let me just run get that doll now" and then stared at her. If you feel like you don't have that good of wit, you can be a nerd like me where I practice witty, biting lines and lay in wait to use them. It's amazing how often that actually works, but you do feel like a real dork talking to your mirror.

Riddle Girl said...

You are a GREAT mom! A+ for holding your tongue. I can't offer much advice because I am one of those who thinks of the comebacks after the fact and just get so mad I shake when I leave the situation. (Yep, comes back to manners!)
But a good comeback may have been:
"Isn't it like ALL kids to love the things best we don't buy...Like refrigerator boxes, dirt piles and baby coconuts!"
Also, I KNOW one of those GOB's...My mother in law is one of those that gives people "the look" when they aren't doing things the way she thinks is right. Let's just say...when visits with them are done my tongue has had a work out from all the biting I have to do.
(And I only had the courage to tell her off once about ME being my kids parent---and it was in an email.) Still love her though!

for a different kind of girl said...

I'll just repeat what so many before me have already said, because it's true - you did the best thing for your daughter by responding the way you did. You absolutely stood up for her with your remarks about her imagination, etc. Far better, in my opinion, for that to be heard than to have cut down the lady (though I absolutely understand the desire to do so).

Heather said...

I would have been so mad, but probably would have done the same thing you did, while cursing GOB under my breath.

You stuck up for your daughter, the comments you made let your daughter know you thought it was fine, and appreciated her imagination (which I think is pretty awesome too!).

I just wish people would mind their own bees wax! With GOB's attitude, it sounds like any children that were around her must have had loads of fun.

Amy said...

I tend to be the same way when it comes to confrontation... I'd rather give someone the ball then have them fight me for it.

I think you handled the situation great- people are too full of themselves these days... can't believe that lady wouldn't take a chill pill about baby Michelle. I think you're a great mom for letting your little one use her imagination- too many people block that... and good for you to not let GOB be one of those imagination blockers!

Stesha said...

You did exactly what you were suppose to do. And never have any regrets about that.

Now me on the other hand...girl you know that grumpy old hag wouldn't have suffered from an unfortunate "accident". "Old hag down on aisle 5."

A great mother you are Kathy B!

WhisperingWriter said...

I think you did the right thing.

I would have been tempted to say something like, "Have a nice day, you cranky bitch," on my way out though. I mean I WOULDN'T have said it but it certainly would have rolled through my mind.

lizspin said...

Could have said. . .that thing is a whole less "rotten" than you are old bitch. . .

Just so you know... I never would have said that. I would have slinked, slanked, slunk out of the store.. .

Jen said...

Hayden LOVES to wear girly things like hats and necklaces and crowns and at one point in time he wanted to have pigtails in his hair every time we went out. Well, this did not go over well with some people. With some people I was able to talk them down and get them to laugh about it, other were no so nice and he told them off while still kinda taking the high road. Hayden was too young to understand all thing but I would like to think that I would do that same thing again and then explain to him how he can stand up for himself.
Sorry for the ramble. I hope this makes sense.

Wifey said...

I think you handled it perfectly. You interjected so that your child didn't have to answer her ridiculously inappropriate questions. You also showed your daughter that you don't have to sink down to other people's levels.

Kudos!

And I, too, always think of a million zippy little answers I could've shot off once I'm driving away in the parking lot. Ugh.

Winks & Smiles,
Wifey

forever folding laundry said...

Ugh, some people really do suck. I think you handled it well. And I think you were perfectly within your rights to give her that look!

~Keri

Ink said...

You did a great job, KB, including shooting the look over your shoulder. And hey, you got some revenge by naming her GOB! Tee hee.

I really like all of the cool suggestions here and shall be adding them to my future-incident tool kit. Can already imagine the frosty tone I'll be employing, too, with the Miss Manners one: "How KIND of you to take an interest...." Oh YEAH!

Kristen said...

I think you are fine. That old lady obviously doesn't realize that a child who can make a baby out of a coconut has a much bigger imagination than a child who uses a baby doll!

I see no need for you to make your daughter leave the coconut at home (unless of course it would be harmful or it is starting to rot :)

But really the old lady obviously has never been around children or not been around children for a really long time.

You did the right thing to try to stop the lady (who obviously should have shut up) and then to not get in an argument since the kids were there.

I'm like you though, I reply situations and what I could have said or wanted to say, haha. But I think you did what was right!

Helene said...

Kathy, I honestly think you handled it perfectly. The worst thing you could have done was lose your temper (as much as you would've rightfully liked to do)....we always have to remember that our children are watching us constantly and doing what we do, saying what we say.

You were a perfect model for your child that day on how to be polite to others even when others are being rude and/or disrespectful. Not that you want her to be a total doormat, which I don't think you were at all....but you want her to grow up handling uncomfortable situations like that with grace...to be proud of herself as she walks away from the situation, know what I mean? I think you handled that situation with grace....you took the higher road and that's something to be proud of!

Please don't be embarrassed....if anything, feel embarrassed for that GOB who should have known better when it comes to manners, esp around children!!!

Juls said...

I think you did what most of us would have done..
GOB needs to have some fun...obviously she has a stick so far up her....well, nevermind.
Usually when we encounter a rude person in public-- I'll mention something to the girls like:
Gee, that lady wasn't having a very good day was she?.... I'm so glad that we aren't rude like that. Sometimes I say it within ear shot of the GOB's I encounter. Passive aggressive?!? Maybe....

3 Bay B Chicks said...

I always find myself re-analyzing situations too and hate that I usually come up with the perfect come back after the fact. Honestly, I would have done the exact same thing, tried to make the best of the situation and been polite. Is it weird that your daughter is toting around a coconut? A little, but it is even more strange for an older woman, who is undoubtedly a mother herself, to draw negative attention to the matter.

Let's come up with a fun response for the next time this situation occurs. How about...

"I tried buying her baby dolls, but she just keeps sawing off the heads. In these hard economic times, a coconut is SO the way to go. I would think that an old, tight-ass like yourself could appreciate something like this.

Oh, look like it's my turn in line. Gotta run!"

XOXO
-Francesca

Undercover-Princess said...

I love 3 Bay B Chicks response. I second it.

Follow up with: At least if she cuts this open we will all have a nutritious snack.

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

I always think of the perfect come-backs long after the fact... ;)

You handled the situation brilliantly - I would have said/done the exact same thing. You're a great mom! :)

Jenny Penny said...

Do you think Emily was hurt? I think it's best to show her how to stay cool as a cuke when someone's rattling your cage, which you did. Remember my recent blog about the alpha-dog playdate? Alpha Dog is daughter to a woman who does not control herself in these kinds of situations. She uses cutting sarcasm instead. Our kids once had a gym class together, and when our girls were changing in the locker room and being a little loud and silly, a GOB was apparently looking down her nose in disgust. Alpha dog's mom said, "Oh, hey, girls. We better be quiet, because we're getting on this lady's nerves!" I totally thought she knew the woman, who proceeded to fall all over herself explaining that she's used to kid voices, being a grandma and all. I was half impressed, half embarassed by alpha dog's mom's behavior in the situation. She totally gave importance to the lady when the girls weren't really even aware of GOB before that. Oh, and guess how her daughter behaves? Critical and catty. Apple doesn't fall far...

Jenny Penny said...

P.S. I had a GOB at our grocery store walk up to me and my daughter when my daughter was four, ask me my daughter's name, and then proceed to tell me that it was also HER name and she HATES it. "It's such an awful name!" My daughter was mortified. I told our GOB that the name was my favorite and now deceased grandmother's name, my idea of the most beautiful name in the world, and therefore my lovely daughter's name. I wasn't sarcastic, wasn't mean, but also didn't just take handled your GOB, too!)

passionsandsoapboxes.com said...

You did just fine...you showed restraint not cowardice... Some people are just stupid, narrow minded, idiots. Have you talked to Emily and asked her how that made her feel. Ask her if she understands why you handled it the way you did instead of something more confrontational. When you know what she thinks you can offer advice to her for the next time. Talk...it will be ok...guarenteed

Jenny Penny said...

Okay, starting to feel like that guy in Swingers, who calls too many times. I deleted a sentence somehow. I was saying "...but also didn't just take it, and I think that's how you handled your GOB, too!"

ck said...

I think you succeeded on walking a fine line with this situation. You taught your daughter how to stand up for herself AND respect her elders. Not always an easy combination. Especially when the other person is so clearly undeserving.

Jonny's Mommy said...

I'm late on this one, but I think you handled it the best way you could have. Evil old bitty anyhow!

Zeemaid said...

I'm a little behind on my commenting but... honestly I think you handled it well. You did stand up for your daughter in that whatever the lady said you were counteracting it with something positive. Some times, it's just not worth getting into it with people. Some people are just GOBs and will always be GOBs. :)

On a side note, I'd probably make E leave the coconut at home so KUDOS to you mom for letting her be her. :)

Zip n Tizzy said...

I think you did a great job, and it's fantastic that you support your girls in their creativity and enthusiam.

Some people are just bitter and angry. I think that showing respect for other people even when they're being disrespectful toward you is teaching your daughters how to take the high rode and to treat everyone the way you would WISH to be treated.

Then you can always laugh about it together in the car afterward while you explain that, sadly, not everyone has enough imagination to find the joy and delight in a dressed up coconut!

Banteringblonde said...

I would ignore ... I think the coconut is a sign of true brilliance and creativity. Screw grumpy people!

Yvonne said...

Plenty of others have already commended you for your kindness to the ole b....h and supporting your daughter at the same time. I, myself tend to air on the side of sticking it to them so I must say that I WISH I was more like you. I believe that if know what our weaknesses are and are willing to grow and change, then we have the tools to do a great job as parents. After all, no one is perfect, right? You, Kathy have to remember let people walk on you, while teaching your child to address the issue and yet remain kind. I, on the other hand... must remember not to attack and be gracious. My kids are grown. I hope I did as well of a job as you did at Costco!