Dec 8, 2008


Sometimes I really think I need adult supervision.

I went to Target to pick up a prescription and decided to just get the few grocery items that I needed right there and then. Stupid decision, it turns out, since every other person in the state of Indiana had the exact same thought at the exact same time.

But I regress.

At the checkout line...oh, first let me explain that my Target has a very strict policy against opening any more than two of the eighty-five lanes they have to make the checkout process all the more enjoyable....there was a young woman in front of me with her small children. The little girls looked to be about two (there were two of them...twins?), and her little boy looked to be about four or five.

I should probably preface my remarks by explaining that I'm not exactly "kid friendly". Now I don't mean that I'm not friendly to kids or that I would ever do anything to hurt one of them, but I just don't ever have the opportunity to be around them or learn what the hell is going on in their little heads half the time. Kids perplex me. I have no idea what they need or want or are saying, and I swear they appear more as alien life forms to me than they do little people.

So the little boy in front of me decides at that very moment in time to have what can only be described as a full-on nuclear MELT DOWN. I'm not sure what precipitated this, nor am I exactly positive as to what he seemed to be screaming about (see above), but I do know that his hollering was loud enough to set off smoke alarms and rattle windows. It was...erm...uh...rather unpleasant.

Considering that there were hundreds of people in the store and at least 90% of them were waiting in line to get the hell out of there, I did what any normal adult without children would do....I looked around and made sure that they knew that I had nothing to do with whatever the hell the kid was going through. Face after horrified face just stood there staring at this kid and a few people even shot the mom a look that could have melted glass.

Don't ask me what happened next, because I'm not too sure I could explain it if I had to.

I sat down.

I sat down right on the floor in front of this little kid.

On the floor.

In Target.

I must have shocked the yell right out of the kid, because he stopped in mid bloody scream and looked at me like I was nuts. And then he did something amazing. He walked right over to where I was sitting and sat down right next to me.

Turns out his name was Ethan. And Ethan, as it would happen, was just generally pissed off at the world. His mom wouldn't give him a cookie and then they went to the toy aisle and he didn't even get to press the foot on the (I have no idea what the hell he said here..but I figured it had to do with something electronic.) He told me all about his day, including the fact that he woke up with his tummy hurting and then he didn't get to have the right kind of cereal and then his mom made him put his little coat on and they had been "doing stuff" all damn day long. And he was tired. And he was hungry. And he wanted somebody, somewhere to pay attention to him.

So Ethan and I talked about the general state of the world, came to the conclusion that Santa Claus would come to visit him even if he acted bad, and that Notre Dame has no business being in a bowl game. We named the reindeer (OK, so I made up most of the names...I'm sure there's a Pete and a Larry out there somewhere), and then Ethan told me all about his cat named Blue. (Or was it Boo?)

The line finally moved forward (damn you, Granger housewife and all your gift receipts), so Ethan and I got up off the floor, dusted ourselves off, and held hands while his mom paid for the three items she needed.

I may never solve world peace, and I might never find the cure to cancer, but I'm pretty sure that sitting on the floor in Target was the exact right thing to do at that moment in time. That kid made me feel like no matter what the hell is going on in the world..if somebody someplace just sits down for a minute to hear what you have to say, everything suddenly gets much better.

Merry Christmas, Ethan. Don't hit your little sisters, tell mom you need a little more nap time, and remember the big nutty lady that sat down with you in Target.


  1. Oh my heaven.

    As a mother of two (way past meltdown age, thankfully) I must say "Thank you." I hope the mother was appreciative of your intervention. I would have been!

  2. What a great story! I am not really a kid (or dog) fan, but I attract them like I am coated in candy. Sounds like the mother didn't thank you or anything, but I'm sure the other customers were blessing you.

  3. Ethan's mother is probably getting the Canonization papers signed right now for you to become Saint Spinster Stitcher by the Pope! As a mom of a boy I can tell you she probably thanks you a million times over.

  4. That is a GREAT story, especially this time of year. Kudos to you, for spending that little bit of time with Ethan to find out what he really needed.

  5. that's the spirit saint spinster
    i love it
    smiles and happy holidays
    thanks for sharing

  6. That is the sweetest damn thing I ever did hear.

  7. Saint Spinster Sister, You are awesome!!! Only you, and I mean only you, cuz I know you so well, would actually sit down in the middle of this Super Target, and touch the heart of a little Guy named Ethan!
    And to all you girls out there, I promise you, this is the REAL Coni that I know and love!

  8. Aww that was awesome! Santa's definitely coming for you! Ethan probably won't remember you for long - 5 year olds have notoriously short attention spans - but I'm sure his mother will.

  9. a mother of a boy smack dab in the nuclear meltdown age...I applaud you for your patience! Thank you from all of the other moms out there!

  10. Hi Coni,


    You made that little boys day and helped out his mother who I am sure was at her wits end. :-)

    Even with the best of intentions and preparations I've been there. Not often thank goodness but it does happen. :-)

    Thank you for thinking of him and yes, you do have the Christmas Spirit!!!

    Windy Meadow

  11. Seeing a long post from you, I got my popcorn and tissues (tissues for laughing too hard or fixing a sniff or three) and sat down for a damn good story. Good for you - from a mom who's kids like to think they are past the melt down stage (but still have them)

  12. Awesome post, Coni. You made that little boy's day and you helped out a frazzled mama (even though she may not have thanked you, I'm sure she appreciated a frazzled mama who's been there, trust me, we're thankful when someone makes the screaming stop).

    You may not think that little boy will remember you, but you'd be surprised to learn what kinds of things kids that age do remember. Don't be surprised if he recognizes you if your paths cross again someday. :-)

  13. This is it...hands favorite post of this holiday season! Thank you for sharing it.

  14. What a wonderful post ! I'm a big Chicken Soup for the Soul book reader and this would fit right in
    one of their books.

  15. What a great thing to have done! I am sure his mom thought an angel was sent to her!

  16. Coni, you brought tears to my eyes and a gladness in my heart. Being the mother of 4 "Ethan's" - at one time or another during their lives - I would have kissed your toes...What an utterly unselfish, wonderful woman you are. Your Mama and Daddy are so proud....
    Thank YOU for being the woman you are!

  17. LOVE IT....what a great story...I too have three "Ethans"...I have been inspired to try this with my meltdown, I'm hitting the floor, getting the opinions on the table and working on solutions..........

  18. That is just great - as the mother of a child who has an occasional meltdown in the store despite my very best efforts - I know I would be most grateful for what you did.

    And you know what else? I think you know a little bit more about those alien life forms than you are letting on... I'm just saying. :)

  19. You are fantastic...and you did exactly the right thing!

    I think you do have empathy with children, and like you said...all he needed was someone to listen to him and take him seriously!


    Edy in NYC

  20. As the mother of a 4 year old boy - God Bless You! You have definitely opened my eyes that the next time my son is on the edge of a meltdown (or in the middle of one) that maybe a little one-on-one is all that is needed!


  21. You are a blessing! You aren't quite as oblivious to children as you might think -- you knew exactly what Ethan needed at exactly that moment and you gave it to him. I promise you that neither he nor his mother will ever forget you.

  22. Very way cool idea of you! I'm sure Ethan's mom appreciated it even more than Ethan did...even if she did not acknowledge the moment!

  23. Wow. You have the gift.
    I must admit that, though I have a child, kids tend to scare me too. I never know what they want from me either.

  24. Wonderful story Coni! As a mother of two children, who are now teenagers, I remember those shopping meltdowns!

    I would have loved having an intervention by you.....

  25. I love this story. As a mother with 2 small children, I know exactly what that feels like and that mother must have thought you were an angel sent straight from heaven to help her. I wish you would follow me around on my errands! :)