Today was Back to School Shoe Shopping Day. A day I dread every year. This year was extra fun since two weeks of fun and sun at Grandma's caused Emmett and Charlotte to both grow out of their shoes while away from home. I had to buy them two pairs each.
We got to the mall bright and early to avoid the crowds. We found both pairs of Emmett's shoes and one pair for Charlotte at one store, and then had to go looking at another store for one more pair for her. (She is blessed with my very narrow heels so shoe shopping is turning in to a quite an ordeal for her, poor girl.) On the way to the second shoe store we had to walk past a terrible store. A horrible store. The worst kind of store you can imagine. A toy store. Matthew bee-lined into the store and buried himself in the Thomas Train section. I let him shop for a moment while I chatted with the sales associate (a friend of mine from Guides) while I mentally prepared myself for the melt down that would occur when I removed him from the premises for more shoe shopping. As predicted, the melt down was spectacular.
The melt down did not end in the shoe store, and was added to by a chorus of "I'm tired. I need to rest. I'm hungry." from Emmett as Charlotte tried on shoes. Matthew's melt down got louder when I told him we would not be buying the Thomas umbrella he found in the shoe store that he decided to carry around. My blood pressure rose ever higher.
While my kids were blocking the aisles at the shoe store a brave customer walked over to us. She looked at me sympathetically. She said to me "Back to school shoe shopping really sucks, doesn't it? Kids hate trying on shoes." She even had a Thomas sticker in her purse that she gave screaming Matthew. (She is another resident of the Island of Sodor. If you don't know where that is, then you don't have a kid who is mad for Thomas in your house)
This conversation could have gone very differently. There could have been dirty looks at my crying kids. There could have been comments about my lousy parenting in hushed tones to her shopping companion. She could have come up to me with tactless advice I am glad she took the high road. We all need random strangers to help us out when we are deep in the trenches. I need to remember to be that random stranger more often.
We really are all in this together.