I must confess that I occasionally will glance for a brief moment at the ” People of Wal-Mart ” clips that are out on the internet. When you spend as much time at the place as we do, its almost like watching home movies. The people in these clips are very unusual -they seem to have no idea that what they are wearing is causing people to laugh at them and even film them . Perhaps they do it for the attention alone, I really am not sure. One thing I do know is that my state is privileged to be in the top 5 most popular of the Wal-Mart people states. Personally I attribute this to the fact that ours is a 24 hour store, and is right next to the interstate. I think people are cruising down the interstate at 3am in their bunny rabbit pajamas with the 5 foot tail, and they just get the urge to hop through .
At any rate its clearly something that is reserved for the cerebrally challenged. Thank the Lord my relatives are not in there. My family was brought up different, we know what is proper and what is not. My father had taken parenting classes in prison and mom was the best behaved on her unit before they met and I was around. Needless to say I am blessed and therefore I don’t judge the less fortunate. I actually got into the human services as a way to give back a little something. I help those parents who may not see the error of their way and gently nudge them back on course. Not all parents have the training I have so its the least I can do.
I wasn’t always the parent I am today though-it was rough in the beginning. I will never forget one incident that took place when I was just a young dad. My first son, Micah was about 1and 1/2 years old and we were just walking into the local grocery store. He always loved to sit in the cart in the kid holder . I pushed the cart in and remember stopping at the restroom to change his pull-up. We then started down the first aisle and gathered the things we needed and made it through the second one quickly. I think it was when we were rounding the 2nd when I noticed it and quickly hit the brakes. I had glanced at the floor and saw what looked like a line of round brown dots following us around the corner. This may have been my first child, but it was not my first awkward incident with him. I knew right away what time it was, and I was ready to handle it accordingly.
I put one hand on the cart and one hand on the floor clutching a wad of paper towels, casually squatted down and pushed the dripping boy as I waddled forward wiping the floor -I doubt anyone even caught it. I got that boy to the restroom fast and before I knew it he was good as new and we were back on the road, aisle 4 looking for more. We had a good time as we strolled through the aisles just me and my boy picking out the sugar filled snacks and the least healthy things we could. I must admit, I was feeling good about my parenting skills as I knew what I had just gotten away with. It was time to head home and momma would never know about the little incident so all was good. I rolled up to the checkout counter and started to unload the groceries onto the counter, when suddenly I met eyes with the checkout lady… ” Oh My Lord! What is that horrible smell? ” she yelled. The entire line was peeking up at us now and the next line over was taking a look too. Nosey people, what were they looking at anyway?
I continues to unload the groceries realizing that maybe the odor from the boy was not completely gone. Oh well, if that’s the worst thing that happens to her all day she should be happy. I tossed the last of the groceries (the ones that were directly under my son in the cart) up onto the counter and suddenly everything was slow motion it seemed. The meat was slowly sailing through the air and the girl was starting to back up and her eyes got really big… ” Its on the meat- there it is! Nasty!” she screamed as she ran from her counter and our cart. I guess I missed a few spots when I cleaned up, a little of the brown stuff had leaked down onto the meat below the kid seat. Now I was completely busted, the whole line was laughing and then I even heard someone announce cleanup needed at checkout.
I made the best of it and slowly made my way to the door and out to the truck.
I think of that story often and wonder what people must have thought of me as a parent. I tried so hard to do all the right things but somehow I just could not cover all the bases. Today when I see other parents with small children struggling, I often will joke with them about how I can relate. It turns out there are no perfect parents and we all have those moments. Just when I am about to judge the way someone else’s child is behaving, my own will remind me publicly that we all have issues. I have taught parenting classes over the years and been involved in many family trainings for my work. I rarely have run across a parent who did not want the best for their child or who was not making an effort to teach them right and wrong. What I have seen consistently over the 20 years in social services is the lack of parenting skills and the lack of confidence in the parents. Besides these factors the only thing I have seen more frequently that does damage, is the parent who is simply doing exactly what was done to them when they were a child.
There is another group that I have seen that are much more difficult to work with, and one that causes much more damage. The group who seems as if they are not interested in being parents, but have no choice. It is important that this group get help since they likely are doing things and saying things that are hurting the children. As a social worker, these are the parents I tried to get to the quickest and work out a plan for parenting and in rare cases a plan for foster care or other long term care. No matter what the issues most parents just lack basic parenting skills and are well meaning people. The best thing we can do for the young or untrained parent is to help them. Offer some assistance, not in a judgmental way but as a friend.
The truth is that we all have weak points and strong points in our parenting skills. Some are more obvious then others, that’s all. Its not so much that we are the better parents – just that not everyone knows our grocery store stories…lol