Hello Kitty has no mouth for a reason

By Gretchen

I was putting bagged groceries into the cart when my 4-year-old daughter ran up to me, sobbing. On that day, it was nothing new.

She cried about all sorts of things during that shopping trip. It was the end of a long, demanding week and nerves were frayed. Most of her sadness could be traced back to my emphatic and relentless use of the word no. On every aisle, there was something for sale that featured a famous white kitty cat with a bow perched jauntily on her massive noggin.

My daughter adores this adorable kitty to the point if they had a chain saw with the kitty’s face, she’d want it.

And then she’d promptly wipe out all the old growth forests west of the Mississippi.

I said no to everything kitty-related, reminding her of Christmas’ rapid approach. Be patient, I advised.

Once we got to the checkout, she seemed to settle down until she noticed a candy airplane. She wanted it even though there wasn’t an adorable feline pilot. The answer was still no, but I felt sorry for the constant dejection and directed her attention to a bag of little candies she could have. This wasn’t satisfactory, leading to more weary tears.

The clerk offered advice: “Hang in there! All kids have these bad days!” I agreed, telling her I have older kids and the behavior was familiar—but this girl o’ mine was a little more strong-willed than the others.

“An ornery one!” she smiled. I nodded my head.

A group of people, including a middle-aged woman, got in line behind us. I began to load the bags into the cart when my daughter ran to me. I asked what was wrong.

“I don’t like the people talking to me!” she sobbed.

“Who talked to you?”

The middle-aged woman piped up, “I told her she wasn’t being very nice.” My eyebrows shot up, over the top of my head, and down the back of my shirt.

I told my daughter almost the same words earlier when she persisted and persisted and persisted. But I know what to say and how to say it. I know she trusts me and my love for her even when she’s being difficult, even when her heart is broken by the prospect of never owning at kitty-cat splattered ice bucket.

When a stranger in a store tells you that you aren’t a nice girl and you are only barely 4, you escalate the tears and search for mama’s legs to hug. You wait for mama to cup your cheeks and look into your eyes. You visibly relax when she softly says that it’s okay. Let’s go home.

Suddenly, it’s okay to leave without kitties and airplanes because you are leaving with someone who loves you desperately and gets your quirks, your eccentricities, your random whims, you.

The village may mean well, but sometimes? Well, the village can be mean.

What’s wrong with a friendly Hello?

29 Responses to Hello Kitty has no mouth for a reason
  1. Dorci
    November 28, 2010 | 7:26 pm

    It would seem all sense of decency and respect has all but flown out the window anymore. What has gotten into people’s heads that criticism of anyone, including a little child, is the first response on someone’s mind?

  2. Bonnie
    November 28, 2010 | 8:04 pm

    I am a firm believer in speaking the truth. I am a firmer believer in kindness, especially to frustrated children. Poor little one. No fair that she was on the receiving end of a grown-up’s own frustration.

  3. Melissa Brotherton
    November 28, 2010 | 8:43 pm

    Oh my gosh! I am so glad that didn’t happen to me because I know that I would not be a good example to my daughter at that point. The nerve of some people!! Argh! I need to go wash something now to get rid of my frustration. Haha!

  4. amy
    November 28, 2010 | 10:21 pm

    You are a great mother. Lucky Bea.

  5. Stephanie
    November 28, 2010 | 10:40 pm

    Poor Bea. Even the strong willed ones (and you know I have one too) don’t deserve to be criticized by strangers. It has happened to Jules, and no matter how irritated we may be with each other at that moment, she’ll run to me and I’ll hold her close, and we know it’ll be okay.

  6. Joanne
    November 29, 2010 | 12:33 am

    Hello? Lady, YOU aren’t being a very nice adult. (Speaking to the woman in the store, not you.) I hope Bea gets lots of those Kitties for Christmas. I didn’t realize those were still popular.

  7. Jill
    November 29, 2010 | 11:57 am

    UGH. Horrible behavior from that adult. I smile at other people’s children. If they are misbehaving, I thank God that, for once, it is not mine… and move on. You never know what is happening in other peoples lives. I am sorry that happened to your sweet girl 🙁

  8. Brian
    November 29, 2010 | 12:05 pm

    This same thing happened to us at the store yesterday! I was already telling the boys (3 of them, all excited and having fun and playing) to calm down and be quiet. Then some lady had the nerve to say the same thing to them! At that point, I took offense at the nerve of the lady getting in our business. Not like I wasn’t trying to calm them myself. I looked at my wife and said (probably loud enough) ‘what is wrong with her???’. Geez people, calm down. Kids will be kids from time to time. I wish people would just leave the parenting to the parents. This lady had the coldest, stoned look on her face like she either hated children or ruled hers with an iron fist. Yeah…I’m sure her kids were just upstanding, well-behaved and proper children all the time, right….

  9. se7en
    November 29, 2010 | 3:45 pm

    Awww the poor darling!!! We dashed into a store at about five thirty one day and I had a seriously tired grubby wingey 2.5 year old with me… A grumpy shop assistant, who was absolutely never ever a kid, “kindly asked” what kind of mother I was to bring a child who obviously didn’t want to be there into the store… Unfortunately it was the end of a looonng day and she picked a bad day to speak-up… I ever so kindly replied that actually none of us wanted to be there… and we would be so much quicker running the errand we had to run if we weren’t standing around chatting!!!

  10. Mozi Esmés Mom
    December 5, 2010 | 7:27 am

    I had one of those days – but the old man behind us gave my daughter a fifty-cent piece instead of saying anything. She was totally fascinated and kept quiet long enough for us to get out of the store… 🙂

    Thinking back, it might seem like she was getting a reward for misbehavior, but at that point I was so grateful for anything that would keep her quiet I almost hugged the man!

  11. Monique
    December 12, 2010 | 7:09 pm

    This is one of my biggest problems when we are out and about. Some people can be so rude and my son is autistic, so we encounter it so much more. I don’t know when people thought it was acceptable to be mean to small children, a trend I am not fond of.

    I love when a random person comes up smiling and compliments us and our child. I have had a few who have even blessed us with a little gift, I remember an elderly man one day while grocery shopping on a stressful day. My son was doing the usual toddler in a store whining, and this nice old man came up to us and told me he was glad to see a parent being nice to their child and to see such a polite toddler, and pushed something into my hand, telling me to buy something special for the little boy. I thanked him very much and he went on his way, when I looked in my hand he had given us $5. I was amazed at the kindness that noones looks or comments affected me for the rest of the trip.

    It warmed my heart to know some people still have hearts full of love instead of spiked tounges.

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