I was in the store today with Josh, and he had a serious case of the CanIGets. As in, “Mom, can I get this? Can I get that? We were, blessedly, next in line to check out, and he’d gone through pretty much everything on the candy shelf. My tongue was ready to fall off from saying “no” so much.

Then he gets this silly grin on his face and says, “Hi” to a passing customer. I turned to find one of the aides from his school standing there. She greeted us, made small talk, and the subject of his CanIGets comes up. “Yeah, Mom’s been saying no.”

So she looks at the candy and asks him what his favorite is. This didn’t bother me, since lots of people would do that. “What’s your favorite? Oh, mine is M&M’s.” And leave it at that.

But no. This time, it was, “which one is your favorite?” “The Orange gum.” “Ok, I’ll get it for you!”

I’m sorry, what???

Mom says no, and this woman just goes and buys the gum for him!!

And if I say no thanks, then I look like a world-class b*. Petty. Have to make a point. Even though I wanted to.

To Josh’s credit, he was very polite about it, thanked her several times, and offered (without being prompted) to share with me. But what the heck? Since when is it ok to find out that a parent has said no, and you just go right around and buy the stuff for him yourself???

I really need to be faster on the uptake, because I should have told her, politely, thanks but no thanks, I told him no. But I was just so shocked that she’d do it, that I didn’t say a word.

What would you have done?

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26 Responses to Overstepping

  1. Jenny says:

    Wow! As a mom, I would never do that! And like you, I don’t know what I would’ve said. That’s not ok!!

  2. mssc54 says:

    What a hard-ass you are. Big deal the lady was generous to Josh. It’s sorta Lima a grandma.

    But if you insist on being Hammer Mom, tell Josh that was all okay except for one thing. Next time don’t eat anything. When the generous person leaves put whatever it is in your purse. OR return it for a store credit!! 🙂

  3. SKL says:

    I get this so much, I can’t even tell ya. There have been times when I’ve said “oh, that is so nice of you to offer, but they know they’ve had enough [sugar] for today.” Usually I feel very awkward saying “no thanks,” so I will allow it, but if it’s wrapped, I’ll make them save it for later and add it to their rationed stash. But there are many times when there’s just no solution other than to bite my tongue [and plan my revenge later].

    The thing is, moms have to be the hardass, and that’s not fun. But as long as a kid has one hardass in his life, it’s probably OK for others to spoil them a little. At least, that’s what I tell myself when I have no other choice.

    One thing that can be done when they are overindulged is to get them to “pay it forward.” Use it to teach them about how lovely random generosity is, and encourage them to give something of theirs to someone else. That at least helps to balance things out a bit.

  4. Sue says:

    Depending on my mood, I would stay quiet or tell them sorry, this one doesn’t get a treat today thanks though. I think it undermines the parents when other’s do this and what does it really tell a kid? It’s nice to be generous, but only if the parent gives the ok.

  5. Joy says:

    I disagree with Michael but I’m with Jenny. I’m not sure what I’ve done. I’d like to think I’d have said “thanks but not this time” but I’m not sure I would have had the guts to do it and I probably would have been mad at the kid for the rest of the day. That women knew you told him no. She shouldn’t have done that without a private word with you first. You told her what was going on and I think she shouldn’t have butted in. It wasn’t anyone else’s place to do that and she made it look to Josh like what you said didn’t matter and she could overrule you. On the other hand, it was someone from school so I would have been like you. Speechless.

    My mom used to do this to me all the time. I’d tell the kids something and she’d tell them they were going to Dairy Queen when she knew they were being punished. It’s not nice or the thing to do that to kids.

    It’s hard enough to discipline your kids in public and I think this woman was well intentioned, she was in the wrong. Did you let him have the gum? I wouldn’t have. That much I do know.

  6. SKL says:

    I think one thing that softens this one (for me, anyway) is that this was a one-time incident. It would be different if it were happening all the time. I remember that when my younger siblings were little kids (like 3 and 7), their babysitter used to take them every day and buy them each a big candy bar. I used to ask her not to do this because they were gaining weight and that was obviously an unhealthy practice. She’d say “I know, I know, but I like to make them happy. I’ll cut it down,” but she never did cut it down. Not to place blame, but those kids grew up overweight and still struggle with their weight. Why do this? As the mom of kids who are affected more than average by sugar (Miss A) and fat (Miss E), I am so tired of fighting this battle day in and day out, because other people can’t or won’t rein in their excesses. Once in a blue moon? Fine, go for it. But on a daily basis, back off.

    As far as the aide making Josh feel like Mom isn’t in charge – Josh is smarter than that. As my mom used to say, “friends may come and go, but I’ll always be your mother” [so watch out].

    I’m also not above telling folks if my kids are being “deprived” as a punishment versus something just not being healthy/necessary. So far I haven’t had anyone force a goodie on my kid after hearing that she was on punishment for xyz.

    • Joy says:

      I know it was a one time deal and I know Josh is smart enough to know his mom calls the shots but she still went over Laura’s head after Laura told him and her, no. I think what she did was wrong as one grown up to another.

      • SKL says:

        I agree it was wrong, and I would never dream of doing such a thing. I always tell kids that they have to listen to their parents (and teachers). Even my dad will respect me and my sister as the parents while cringing over our apparent hardassery. But some people are clueless about these things, I think.

      • Joy says:

        Some people are clueless about a LOT of things.

  7. vixytwix says:

    Oh dear. What an awkward situation. What she did was definitely step over the line. I would have politely refused but I can imagine the shock you must have felt. I had a similar situation once. Two young children in my trolley at the checkout, standing in line, tired, cranky, wanting lollies. A lady I knew walked up to the trolley and threw in a family size block of chocolate and smirked then walked away. It was her typical sense of humour but at that time, completely unwelcome. She did not have children. I could have thrown the chocolate at her.

  8. mssc54 says:

    Looking at the comments, I can definately see a difference in the chromosonal “I’m in charge” thing here.

    With all the things a child can get caught up in, receiving a token gift from a well intentioned person that he sees reguarly is hardly worth getting upset about. If this isolated incident is something that will make this woman feel like she contributed (in a positive, virtually harmless way) then you could merely use “the incident” as a teaching lesson.

    My goodness I can’t understand all the BACK OFF LADY attitudes.

    • Joy says:

      Michael. I’m a little surprised at you. “What it” you had a hard time with P and he was naughty the whole time you were shopping. He wanted something in every isle and he whined and carried on how mean you were and you never let him get anything and you were just fed up and some “well meaning person” felt like you were a big meanie and decided to reward him with a pack of gum? After everything you went through with him. This person just gave P the idea that you were a great big meanie and bought him a pack of gun and then he gives you the old “ha, ha, ha” eye thinking he got what he wanted.

      This woman KNEW Laura told him no gum this time. She is his mother. The mother bear. You are the father and what you say should go and if they misbehave somewhere they need to pay the consequences or the next time they go shopping the same thing is going to happen.

      You’re so protective of your kids that I can’t understand the side you’re taking. You also spend so much time with your kids that I thought you’d “get” this.

      • mssc54 says:

        I DO get this. Our kids are our kids. No one else is responsible for them but us. Period.

        That also means that I will not let another person interfere with our style of discipline, etc.

        But you are bring in some “what ifs” that clearly weren’t in play. Josh wasn’t misbehaving. If a person can see a child is misbehaving and then tries the end-around the parental control that is an entirely different scenario. But that is not what happened.

        Simply use this as a teaching moment. Or if it is really that big of a deal then speak privately with the generous, kind-hearted woman and tell her that in the future you would prefer she just give you the cash. 🙂

        • SKL says:

          I’m not sure whether I’m reading Laura’s story right or not. I also did not get the impression that Josh was misbehaving. It sounded to me like he was doing a lot of “wishful thinking” and his mom was trying to reinforce the concept that we don’t always get what we want, etc. (and I have certainly been there).

          Michael, suppose you were trying to convince you child to swim from point A to point B because you knew he could and he was just a little timid. A nice lady comes along and hands him a floatie. What do you do/say? Why, you probably would say “thanks” in some way or other, but you’d be biting your tongue because the lesson you were trying to teach had gotten lost. That’s kind of how I took this incident. I just wish adults would be more considerate of what parents are trying to do with their kids before sticking their noses in. We have such limited time with them, each opportunity is precious.

        • Joy says:

          Yes, maybe you are both right and “misbehaving” isn’t the right word but asking for everything in sight isn’t “good behavior.”

    • vixytwix says:

      It’s got nothing to do with being in charge. It is about clear, consistent messages for our children. This one: no means no. No doubt, the gift was a well-intentioned, kind act. Who doesn’t want to make a child happy? That lady just simply should have asked if it was OK first because he was not her child.

  9. Joseph says:

    It sounds like she was ignorant of the underlying issue. I don’t think she purposefully wanted or intended to undermine the parental authority or diminish the issue. She was probably just innocently being generous oblivious to the ramifications. Does this aide have children herself? Sometimes those without children don’t comprehend what the complexity of what appear to be ‘simple’ issues such as “no.”

    Now if it was your spouse or one of the grandparents doing that, that would be obviously in the wrong.

  10. Joy says:

    This story is starting to remind me of what Jason used to be like when he was little. He was one of those kids who wanted something in every isle of the store. If we went to the swappers meet, he’d want the first thing he saw as he entered the gate. I’d tell him yes and he’d put a matchbox in the cart and in the next isle he wanted something more so he’d go put the matchbox car back and get “whatever” and it went on and on. He used to irritate me so much sometimes. I’d tell him to “please stop asking for things” and “if you ask me for one more thing I’m going to scream” so to me, if someone saw this “poor little boy” in the checkout line and his mom didn’t let him get anything so “I’ll buy him a pack of gum” would have about been the nail in the coffin because I did let my kids get treats almost all the time. I was pretty lenient with them that way so “if” I said no, there was a good reason.

    • Laura says:

      This is the one that hits the spot… This is how Josh was acting that day. Whenever we go into this particular store – and it’s worse at this one than at any other, by the way – he gets a HORRIBLE case of the CanIGets. Can I get this? Can I get that? Can you get me this, that AND the other thing???

      We’d been shopping for a good forty-five minutes. I’d let him help choose several items – from snack foods to fruits and veggies – that the family would share, and that he would have exclusively for him (for lunches, his snack cabinet, whatever). So by the time we got to the candy gauntlet at the checkout, and he was asking CanIGet for damn near every piece of candy on the shelf, I was at the NO point.

      I get that the woman was just trying to be nice. I get that it’s just a one-off, and that it wasn’t that big of a deal, which is why I think I didn’t say anything. BUT, the over-arching issue still remains… what gave her the idea, AFTER hearing that I’d said no to everything on that shelf, that it was ok for her to then go ahead and say yes?

      Josh wasn’t “misbehaving” – throwing tantrums, screaming, whatever – but he was being extremely persistent. And when he’s like that, it gets to be a power struggle very quickly and easily if I don’t monitor the situation. And when she came in and bought him that candy, I lost the “game”. Right then and there.

  11. joanharvest says:

    I am a hard ass when it comes to saying no. If I say no it is going to be no. I know I would have said “Sorry but I have already said no to my child for good reason. Maybe next time, thanks anyway.” My granddaughter (2 1/2) and I go grocery shopping almost every day after her nap. It gets us out of the house and we usually do something fun either before or after the shopping. I have never bought her anything ever in the grocery store so she has never asked for anything. I wish I had done this with my kids who were big beggars in the grocery store. This time around I pormised myself I would do certain things differently and this is one of them.

  12. Nikki says:

    I think that woman should have been respectful to you, Laura. She clearly knew you had said no. Maybe he was that great day, maybe not. Maybe, he had a tooth ache and you didn’t want him to have a gum, or candy. Maybe, he didn’t eat his lunch. Regardless of YOUR reasons, the woman should have respected that.

    I’m not sure what I would have done. Maybe kept quiet, and then I would have spoke to B afterwards. Maybe I would have said, thank you but not today. With a smile. She had good intentions, and that’s great of her. What she should have done was, ask you if it were okay.

  13. Laura says:

    Thanks, everyone. I really appreciate your input on this.

    Looking back, I really should have said something… either to the woman, to cut off the gum-buying, or to Josh afterward. And I should have taken the gum from him. I chalk it up to being worn down!!

    NEXT time, I’ll be alert for the usurpers! I’m ready for it when we’re around family, and certain friends. I guess I just never expected it from a near-stranger in the store!

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