My previously “challenging” son and I were in the grocery store one day when he was about 4. He was generally high energy but it was even more when in stores full of colors, sounds, people, and big spaces. He would see the store as endless and that it would take forever to get through the aisles and he would run out of patience. He would have trouble standing still waiting in the checkout line and would get loud, argumentative and demanding. I was just starting to figure out that the typical way of parenting was not what he needed but I had not really figured out, yet, what was needed. I was used to getting judgmental looks, and worked hard to pretend to ignore them, but they still affected me and made me feel like a failure as a mom.

The grocery store on this particular day was no different. My son was pushing the cart, which helped him cope with the task at hand. Let me also say that he loved, and still loves, fast cars… so you can picture how this was going and what it was looking like. He was safe and there were not many people in the store, so I was going with it.

We turned down one aisle and an older couple was shopping there. The lady stopped to watch us. I braced myself for the judgement that was coming. She stopped me. “Oh no, here we go…” I thought to myself.

She said,

Do you know that all the great presidents started out like that? Don’t stress, you are doing a great job and he is going to be great!

I didn’t know what to say. It was the first time a stranger had given any sort of positive remark. I was shocked, nodded my head at her and chased after my son. It was only after I was home and the groceries were put away, did I process that incident. I just really couldn’t believe that someone, a stranger, saw what I knew to be true.

Eight years later, I still remember it so vividly. It was a turning point in my realization that I was on the right track. It turns out that the best thing about that moment was that she was right.  He has turned into the most incredible and unique almost-teen!


My colleague Vicki Parnell  and I are writing a series of joint blogs – check out her latest post called “Trusting my Instincts” here!