Not so very long ago, I was shopping at The Grove, a large outdoor shopping complex here in Los Angeles. I don't remember what I bought or what stores I went into but I recall that I kept seeing this young mother and her daughter, who was probably about four. I just kept running into them -- you know what I mean? It just happens. It's one of those things.
The first time I saw them, the mother was holding her daughter's hand on her left and holding her cell phone up to her ear on the right. They were heading into Anthropologie and I noticed them right away because the little girl had on these really cute, bright Converse sneakers. Converse sneakers are especially adorable in miniature sizes, I think. And the little girl also looked particularly pouty, as if mom had dragged her against her will to the shops that day. Which I'm sure was the case.
I saw them again as I was heading toward the Mac store. They were sitting by The Grove's central fountain, where many people gather to sit for a spell. The mother was putting the sneakers back onto the little girl's feet. She was throwing an absolute fit about it. I gathered from eavesdropping that basically, the little girl did not want to wear her shoes anymore because she'd wanted to wear her Uggs that day. But mom explained she didn't have her Uggs anymore -- she had ruined them in some kind of mud-related disaster and mom had thrown them away.
I sensed this was not going to end well and I felt myself getting angry. I am not a mother myself, of course, and I have a very low threshold for this stuff. I start to plan in my head what I would do in such a situation but just get increasingly annoyed by the entire thing... Anyway, I went to buy some makeup sponges or something -- I really do not remember.
But I saw them one more time. Well, twice, in fact. About a half hour later in Nordstom. First in the bathroom, where the little girl was standing in a corner, waiting for her mom, who was using a bathroom stall. She was in her socks. She was cradling a doll and seemed in much higher spirits than the last two times I'd seen her. She ran back and forth a bit - she liked that she could slide on the floor in her socks. She smiled at me now, sort of proud, as if she recognized me and recognized that I knew she'd won her shoe battle.
And yet it wasn't even over yet. Because not long after the socks-in-the-bathroom tragedy, (I mean, really? GROSS, right?) I saw them in the shoe department. Buying a small pair of Uggs.
I don't know who annoyed me more this day. The bratty child who wanted to wear Uggs in 85 degree weather and clearly had the upper hand in her relationship with mom. Or the mom, who, I felt, was failing all over the place... Should she have brought her precocious child to The Grove that day? Dragged her from store to store? Let her run around in socks when she decided she hated her shoes? Bought her a brand new pair?
I realize that, first off, I do not know every single detail of their story. I can only recount to you what I observed, overheard, and surmised. And I know it is far easier for me to judge a parent when I do not have any children myself. So I guess that is why I'm sharing the entire thing with all of you. I would love to hear (well, read) what you think about all this psychology.
Of course, it may also just be as simple as "if the shoe fits...."