I was having one of those days where nothing was going right; the kind of day where, if I wasn’t responsible for a toddler, I might’ve started humming “It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere” while inviting a friend to lunch at our local brewery. Instead, I decided our favorite pastry would be enough to help us survive until at least nap time, so we strolled over to the coffee shop, just in time to see the person in front of us buy the last one. It was one of the cruelest things anyone can do to a mom with a toddler, made all the worse when he shrugged and flashed us a half-hearted “Sorry!” grin.
OK, whatever. I guess he couldn’t possibly have known he was ruining our lives. But there are plenty of moments when, whether they realize it or not, people are completely ruining our lives. Like when they host pop-up dog adoption events outside of totally not dog-relevant stores, and straight up ask your toddler if he wants the doggy to come home with him. (Yes, this actually happened to me recently. Like, what? Thanks a lot for making me look like evil incarnate when I have to say no, we’re actually not prepared to take a random dog home with us when we only came here to buy lemons and kale.)
The world is full of temptations for toddlers, and pitfalls for moms. If looks could kill, a lot of toddler moms would be on trial after encounters with people who do things like the following:
Offer Them A Treat Before Asking Mom If It’s OK
To folks not currently raising toddlers, "Hey, there cutie! Would you like a cupcake?" sounds like a nice thing to say. To moms with toddlers, that is basically a declaration of war — a war no one can win. If she concedes and lets the toddler eat it, she and everyone else around are going to have to deal with a sugared-up dynamo until they crash and have a meltdown. If she says no, everyone will have to endure the epic tantrum that follows, because just by mentioning the treat, they've turned it into a necessity (even though mere seconds earlier, the toddler was totally fine without it).
Limit Their Free Samples
Costco employees who let my toddler eat limitless samples without the slightest hint of judgment: y'all are the real MVPs. To everyone else, who takes that "one per customer" rule way too seriously: you are the worst. Technically speaking, he's not a customer — he's a hungry ball of screams who will torture the whole rest of the store until he gets another chicken potsticker. Help me help everyone else, will ya?
Push The Button On An Elevator Right In Front Of Her Toddler
I have seen the face of evil, and it is the grown man who saw me and my toddler approach the elevator at the same time he did, heard him clearly say, "Button? Button?!" yet stared him right in the face while pressing the button first.
Could I have stopped the five-floor tantrum that followed? Possibly. However, that mofo needed to experience the consequences of his actions.
Put Bulk Bins In Stores
Whoever invented supermarket bulk bins either never had a toddler (least of all one who resists the shopping cart seat), or is secretly in league with toddlers everywhere, plotting the downfall of our entire system of free enterprise. Toddlers don't understand the concept of paying for things before consuming them, or the fact that they might have severe allergies, or that they will feel horrible if they eat multiple handfuls of chocolate covered pretzels before lunch. All they know is that, unlike all the well-wrapped items in the rest of the store, all that stands between them and chocolate pretzel glory is a little door they can easily open (and whatever's left of mom's will to stop them).
Put Candy In Checkout Aisles
Bright, thin packaging? Check. Right at toddler height? Check. A totally pointless battle of wills when you were so close to escaping the store unscathed? Check.
Basically Anytime Someone Leaves Tempting Things Right At Toddler Height
Forbidden foods or fragile items on coffee tables; keypads to enter "employees only" spaces that are inexplicably positioned beneath the door handle; pens shaped like fruits and vegetables on a low table in a conference exhibition hall. All way too easy for toddlers to reach, and all forcing moms to either fight with the toddler, or deal with angry adults. Sigh.
Try To Talk To Her When Her Child Is Running Away
"Hi, stranger with a clipboard! I'd love to keep talking to you about whether I can donate to Save The Children, but right now I mostly just want to save my child from oncoming traffic."
Stare At Her As She Tries To Do Eighty Different Things And Wrangle A Rambunctious Toddler
Is it entertaining to watch a mom juggle 10 library books, a backpack, what remains of her tea, and a screaming toddler who won't put his coat on? Or is there some other reason why some people just watch this all unfold, without even offering to help?
Give Them A Toy That Makes Noise
"Ohhh, wasn't that nice of Uncle Never-Gonna-Get-Invited-Over-Again to bring you an musical robot with a hidden off switch? Don't mind me, sweetie, I'm just making a note of which batteries this thing takes so I can 'forget' to buy them every time we go to Target."
Interrupt Nap Time
Don't ring a mom's doorbell in the middle of the day. Don't walk up to her and exclaim, loudly, about how adorable her sleeping toddler looks in their stroller/carrier. Don't knock on the window of her car when her child has fallen asleep while idling in the store parking lot or her driveway. Just never, ever interfere with nap time, unless you want her to shoot fire out of her eyes at you. Then do all of the above, for sure.