Yesterday I shared this story on my Facebook page after an interesting encounter I had. The post had a lot of positive discussion and engagement, so I decided to include it here on the blog as well.


Can you help or will you walk away? This is the question I asked myself today in the Walgreens parking lot. I heard a man’s voice bellow “What are you doing to that child? I’m calling the police! I don’t like how you’re handling her!” He was an older man in his 60s, driving past a woman in her 50s who was trying to get a child into a car seat who was throwing a temper tantrum. I hadn’t seen what was going on until I heard his voice. He was clearly trying to get the woman to stop struggling with the child, concerned about abuse.

She looked desperate, not angry. She said to him that she was trying to get her granddaughter into her car seat. Now I could hear the little girl screaming angrily and the man was giving the woman the stare down. I don’t know what he saw, but I bet it was something similar to what I’ve been through with my kids throwing temper tantrums when they were younger – a power struggle. I waited a moment to see what would happen. She stuck her head back in the car and was pleading with the child. The man was glaring at her with his phone to his ear. Holy smokes, this situation needed some compassion and help, not threatening and screaming.


I walked over and smiled and said “How can I help?” The woman fearfully explained that the other man was calling the police and she’s scared and just trying to get her granddaughter to calm down.”Did you hit her?” I asked. No, she said, but I threw her shoe in the front seat because she was hitting me with it. I responded calmly and reassuringly, “I’ve been through this before with my kids when they were little. I’ll stay with you, we’ll figure this out.”

At first when I tried talking to the little girl she screamed at me. “Don’t talk to me, don’t look at me, get away from here.” I nicely encouraged Grandma to take a deep breath and take a little break. Within just a minute or so I was able to earn the little girl’s trust, get her to happily jump into her car seat all on her own, buckle her own straps and let ME help her get her shoes back on. We talked about how much she loves her grandma and her grandma loves her. She wiped away her tears and gave me a high five. And grandma? At this point she had tears spilling out of her eyes and I gave her a hug. The man in the car was gone. I hope he saw the situation had deescalated and everything was going to be okay.

There was a very good chance that grandma could have screamed at me to get away and mind my own business. In which case I still would have watched and waited to make sure that little girl was okay. But I had it on my heart that I could at least try to help and I’m so glad I did because I know it made a difference. I’m not sharing this to brag or get praise – but to hopefully help inspire someone else to reach out with a smile in a similar situation. Because most parents or grandparents in that situation feel humiliated, powerless and afraid someone will call the cops. Many of us have been there. We can be on the other side, too.

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