Things Not To Do When My Special Needs Child Is Having A Public Meltdown


A few days ago, I experienced what was probably the most horrific shopping trip to date with the boys. Col’s behavior has spiked to an all time high…again, and there are just some things that need to get done in the day. On our way home from therapy last week, I had to make a stop at the fabric store. What should have EASILY been a fifteen minute trip ended up being the most terrible two hours that I’ve had well, almost ever. We entered the store and Colin was polite, patient, as patient as a three year old could be in the silk flower isle of a craft store, and we even played one of our fave made up games, “Superhero, where are you?” Keke, always an angel, was on his best behavior too. Six minutes into the store and a switch flipped. I’m still not quite sure what did it but, Dr. Jekyll left and Mr. Hyde quickly appeared.

This was like no other behavior I’ve ever seen. He went from screaming at the top of his tiny lungs, to flopping on the floor like a fish, literally running from me through isles, and screaming “boo boo” and “ouch!” any time I’d even reach for him, and the screaming only got louder when I’d actually make contact to pick him up. Now that you have that vision in your mind, let me paint an even better picture for you: not only is Col acting out like a child in a horror film but, I have had to take K out of his stroller to hold him, bag on my hip wide open, wallet falling out, pushing the stroller, holding the bottle in kekes mouth, me chasing a child full speed through the store, two bolts of fabric laying across the stroller falling off every two feet…Yes, this was one for the books. If there has ever been a time in my life to star in a reality television show, this was that moment. During all of this, our fifteen minute trip has turned into 1 hour and a half, a stranger/fellow momma giving us a fruit roll up, two elderly women offering to hold Keke, and me shouting over the cutting counter for the associate to hear that I only needed two small samples cut. There was no turning back, had I left as he was screaming, before I had gotten what I needed, our next trip out would have been even worse. He knows what he’s doing, at this point, he’s a pro. I couldn’t give in so, I battled until I’d won the war. After we had our two tiny samples cut..which they charge for apparently, I headed toward the registers.

Second in line, whew! Almost done, only another two minutes…WRONG. Col is still screaming but, at this point he’s in the stroller and I’m still holding Keke. All the while, I look up to see two women in a ten person line, pointing, LAUGHING, and starring at Colin. I made eye contact TWICE and they continued their actions.

It’s our turn to check out, thank God…..except, the cutting counter associate rang our ticket wrong, at full price for an entire yard! No way, had it been a couple bucks I would have paid it to get out of there but, $17?!?! No way, this needs to be fixed. The cashier didn’t know what a sample or 1/8 of a yard was, nor what the price should have been so, after about 6 minutes, she finally sorted us out. I just so happened to look up as I’m walking out to see the same two “women” that had been judging myself and my son a few minutes earlier. I’m sorry but, I was really struggling, on the verge of tears, and trying to contain my composure as I try to understand the feelings my child is struggling with. Not only that but, the three women who had been so gracious and helpful to us earlier on the store, were in line also watching these two disrespectful “women” as they made complete fools of themselves. So, as I catch them with both eyeballs before walking out of the store, I turn away for just a second to snap myself back into the reality of a mother who has serious anger towards what they just made me feel. What they didn’t understand is that my stress levels were already at a MAXIMUM height, and I was highly irritated at the extra few minutes I had to spend at that register because of someone’s mistake…no big deal though, accidents happen. However, these two “women” HAD to know their actions were wrong, rude, degrading, embarrassing, and horrific. So, needles to say I gave them quite the piece of my mind…actually more like a chunk. I don’t need to relay the exact verbiage but, I did make it clear, ESPECIALLY after she finally admitted to being a mother and jokingly making life decisions based off of the judgement she was placing on my child…After leaving the situation, I cried…balled my eyes out.

Please, I’m asking you, if you see a mother struggling, it’s not because she’s perfectly content with her child screaming in a store but, it could possibly be that they are STAYING in the store to CORRECT that behavior. If you can’t offer a helping hand, please, keep walking. Do not stare. Do not point. Do not judge me. And if I decline your offer to help, it’s not that I don’t appreciate it or that I don’t wish I could take you up on it but, it’s likely because that will only hinder in the end, rather than help.

I hope this story encourages you to think about your actions when you see a fellow momma in need. A pair of “I’ve been there, you’re doing a fab job” eyes, goes a long way!

*Images by Sara Kearney Photography & from The Mom’s Magazine Juggling It All As The Happening Housewife article.

kisses THH

7 thoughts on “Things Not To Do When My Special Needs Child Is Having A Public Meltdown

  1. I’m so sorry this happened to you! One of the most important thing I teach my child is to be kind to others, what a shame that this “mother” would behave that way. Makes you wonder what she teaches her children. I’ve been there with my strong willed 4 year old, not funโ€ฆ but you are not alone. ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. I think anyone with a Toddler has been in a similar situation. Definitely not to this extend, but I know I’ve been in plenty of stores where I would have absolutely judged myself a few years ago for not leaving immediately. I admire your bravery and I’m so glad you stood up for yourself and your son! They absolutely needed to know what they were doing was NOT OK!


  3. I felt all of your stress as I read this,the sweat, the racing around the store, the public scrutiny, all of it. I too, have been there too many times to count. I will say this, you are one strong mama!! Many times I left my son home with my hubby( along with my three other boys) because I could never get anything accomplished! Kudos to you for seeing it through.
    My second thought is how heartless people can be. A cashier once behaved poorly after my son yelled too much ( he was melting ) and exclaimed how happy she was to see him leave. My typically quite husband walked back to her register and firmly told her that he hopes she never finds herself in a similar situation, and that she never has to endure what special needs parents endure every day. She wound up looking like a very foolish person. It is true when they say you never know what someone is going through until you have walked in their shoes. You and I are wearing the same shoes, and we will keep walking for miles and miles, chins up, heads held high, knowing how we love our children and will sacrifice everything for them. Shame on those rude ladies…however, I feel bad for know why? Shallow people like that will never be able to give of themselves to anyone like we do. They will never know what is truly important in this life. Heck, they couldn’t even reach inside their selfish heads to offer any kind of help of compassion….I aging being them,it must be awful.
    Keep up the good work, even though it can be brutal at times. The unconditional love that our boys have for us, and the trust they have in us, makes us richer than most. Keep smiling…tomorrow is another day.


  4. Girl i feel ya! This older lady gave my son a lollipop in hobby lobby a month ago to help me. I was like I shouldn’t take things from strangers but obviously this is an exception! Sometimes I just walk through target while they are screaming just waving and smiling at people and they look at me like I’m crazy but I’m not going to give in and say yes to avoid a tantrum..another day in target my littlest one was running up and down the aisle as I was sweating in embarrassment as like 4 people were trying to catch him too meanwhile this other lady just watched me and talking like I was so bad.. and it does get better!


    1. lmao SERIOUSLY I do the same thing sometimes!!!! Just grin and wave, grin and wave! And then when I get to the car I laugh about how well IIIIII did, forget his behavior, I was a champ!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ & The strangers with candy, I got over that one quick…We will take ANYTHING if our snacks are empty!


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