How the kindness of a stranger made me feel like less of a Beta Mummy

Today a little old lady gave my son 50p.

We were in Waitrose (free coffee) and the boy was being a pain in the backside.  We only popped in for a few bits, but within seconds he spotted the Babybels and he decided that he needed some.  When I attempted to explain no fucking way was I buying Babybels at full price (nearly 30p each!) when I had an enormous lump of cheapy cheddar at home that he was welcome to bite chunks out of – he went mental.  Full blown, lying on the floor, kicking and screaming apoplexy.  I remembered why I avoid taking my children to the supermarket at all costs.

I did that thing where you pretend that you’re really calm and serene and that you don’t secretly want to punch your child upside the head and loudly said “Now then darling, you’re very sad that you can’t have the Babybel, but let’s go and look at the toilet rolls, can you help mummy find the toilet roll section?”  Of course he ignored me, and carried on, now making weird growling, snarling sounds whilst thrashing about in the aisle.  A middle-aged lady tutted loudly and stepped over him.

I tried ignoring the problem, and started walking away.  Unfortunately I got to the end of the aisle and there decided that I couldn’t very well disappear off around the shop – although I would have been able to locate him again quite easily given the volume of his screams.  So I stood at the end, unsure what to do next.  I felt myself getting riled, going pink.  Embarrassed that it was my child making that godawful noise in Waitrose, of all places.  You expect that kind of behaviour in Asda, not in Waitrose, darling.Beta mummy holding her head in her hand as a very feral child goes crazy

Then my little blonde-ringleted cherub stopped screeching, stood up, and clambered into the fridge.  “I am getting my Babybels”, he announced, and started climbing the shelves.  I had no choice but to drop my basket and dash back down Aisle 3 to retrieve my child, who was being observed by a number of bemused/horrified shoppers by this point.  Extricating the little net of brightly coloured variety pack bastard cheese balls from his grip, I hissed in his ear “You stop this behaviour right now or there will be no CBeebies for a whole week!  And no treats ever again!”

Cue wailing, a bit of hitting (from him, not me!), more thrashing, and immediate regret from me as I had just sentenced myself to either living without the lifesaver that is CBeebies, or being forced to not follow through on a threat…  I know which one was more likely.

“That’s it, I’ve had enough”, I declared, and turned around, ready to march back to claim my abandoned basket, thinking that a bottle of merlot would definitely need to be added to it.  Then behind me, I heard a voice: “Oh dear, oh dear”.  Great, I thought, someone stopping by to criticise me and my child and my shitty parenting skills, fabulous.  The voice continued, and Feral Child fell silent.  “Don’t you like shopping?  I thought all little girls liked shopping!” (Feral Child is a boy, a very pretty boy, but no, he doesn’t like shopping.)

The voice came from a little old lady, impeccably dressed and with curly white hair just like little old ladies should have.  She continued to talk to him, asked him his name (I did feel obliged to mention that he was a boy at this point), and basically talked him out of his massive sulk, before rummaging in her purse and presenting him with a shiny 50p piece.

A picture of a 50p coin

I thought his eyes were going to pop out of his head!  He hesitated, then reached out and took it from the lady, saying “Thank you” (to which I raised my eyes to the heavens and said hallelujah).

“Thank you so much”, I said to the lady, “that is so kind of you”.
“We’ve all been there my love”, she said, “don’t you worry about it”.

I could have kissed her, but I’m British and we don’t do that sort of thing, so I said sorry and thank you several more times, blushed, choked back the lump in my throat and scuttled off to do the rest of my shopping, with a happy toddler in tow.

I very much doubt that old lady will ever see this, but I wish I could let her know how grateful I really am that she chose to be kind, and understanding, when she could have been mean, and rude.  She turned my morning around with that simple gesture, that 50p.  I hope that when I am old I will be like her, and give a struggling mum a lift when she needs it.  It takes so little, but means so much.

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  • Karen 14/10/2017 at 8:51 am

    Awww how sweet! I had something very similar happen to me in Sainsbury’s when my two-year old son (who’s now 24) was having a melt down in the fruit and veg aisle. I did the, “right that’s it, I’m going” routine and marched off around the corner leaving him to it but spied on him out of sight as he screamed and totally lost it among the carrots. Other shoppers tutted and frowned and huffed at us and when an old lady asked me, “is that your little boy?” I was so upset and stressed and embarrassed and thought she was going to tell me off that I snapped, “yes, why?” She said kindly, “you’re doing exactly the right thing dear. Just give him some time to calm down.” I could have cried. What a lovely lady!

    • Beta Mummy 14/10/2017 at 8:57 am

      Oh that’s so nice! Sometimes a little compassion and validation is just enough to stop us completely losing the plot! X

  • Abi Shepherd 17/10/2017 at 9:42 am

    That’s such a lovely story! Made me well up cos we’ve all been there!!!


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