Toddler Mistakes Stranger for Mom at the Grocery Store & the Whole Thing Turns Ugly

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little girl in grocery store shopping cart
MNStudio/iStock.com

All parents have been in the grocery store when their kid just won't. stand. still. It can be embarrassing as you try to chase down your little one while pushing a loaded cart full of food. Well, for one mom, her little one innocently had some extra energy and started goofing around while they were waiting in line to pay. But she made the mistake of confusing a stranger's legs with mom's and momentarily hugged them before realizing. The mom laughed, chuckling at her daughter's harmless mistake, but the stranger didn't smile back or think it was funny. Instead, it got ugly. 

  • Although her 2-year-old rarely needs to be disciplined, the mom described a moment when her own parenting judgement was called into question.

    According to her post on Reddit, the anonymous mom explained that she and her 2-year-old daughter were at the grocery store check-out line when her daughter started to act up a bit as they waited. "I often get compliments on how well behaved she is and her calm temperament, but make no mistake, she is still a toddler, so we have our moments," she wrote. 

    Ahead of the mom were two other female customers, one of whom was only feet away from her and her daughter. "My kid is acting up a little and trying to run off from me in the line," the mom shared. Giggling as mom took her hand, the girl accidentally dropped her toy on the ground. She went to pick it up and when she got up, "she is very close to lady #2, and in that split second she thought she was me and hugs her legs from behind, her head landing between her legs, right under her butt," she wrote.

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  • The mom immediately got her daughter's attention to realize her mistake and thought that was that.

    reddit post

    "I quickly called out my daughter's name to help her realize Whoa, that ain't mommy," she wrote. "The look on her face when she realized that she was hugging a stranger was priceless and a funny honest mistake."

    Mom admits that she laughed a bit as she "herds" her daughter back, but apparently not everyone thought it was funny. 

    "This lady turns around and she is pissed ... she was giving my daughter a look as if she was a 40-year-old slimeball who just grabbed her ass," the mom wrote. "I get not all people like kids and I respect that, but I thought she was going to hit my kid with the look she had on her face."

    After seeing the scowl on the woman's face, who she guesses was around 25 years old, the mom started to laugh nervously. Things were definitely uncomfortable between the two. "Normally I'm a pushover and very easy and quick to apologize for anything and everything, but the fact that she seemed so offended by a kid accidentally hugging her, it almost wanted to make me see red," she wrote. " I just smiled and raised my eyebrows as to ask if there was a problem here."

    The tense exchanging of looks only went on for about 15 seconds "but (expletive) that time lasted forever," she continued. "Lady #1 then turns around and is now just staring at me and my daughter as well, shaking her head a bit in disapproval. That gets me thinking, wow, did I just make a parenting (expletive) up that I should have apologized for instead of laughing at this woman and her reaction? So was I the (expletive) in all of this?

    "Normally I would apologize at the drop of a hat, but the way this lady looked at my daughter with such hatred really just pissed me off badly," she continued. "What do you guys think? Did mama bear mode get the best of me?"

  • Many people thought the mom should have apologized immediately.


    They argued that not everyone likes to be touched and that the stranger was not wrong for being annoyed.

  • One person wrote that it was the mom's responsibility to teach her daughter to be aware of her surroundings.

    Reddit thread

    "Your kid, your responsibility," someone else agreed. "Strangers didn’t sign up to deal with other people’s children, let alone be physically grabbed by them, so you should have apologized ... It isn’t your toddler’s fault for being a toddler. It’s yours for not taking ownership over the situation or understanding why a stranger would be annoyed about it," the person added.

    And another person agreed that the mom had been unfair. "She was waiting for an apology and you laughed in her face," the person commented. "It feels like you withheld your apology because this woman didn't find it cute that your daughter invaded her personal space and that's really unfair to her."

  • But not everyone agrees. Some people thought the stranger had overreacted.


    Come on, kids are kids! It was a harmless mistake and no one got hurt ... right?

  • One person thought the mom should cut herself some slack. "No one knows how to react." 

    Reddit thread

    Another person agreed it was awkward, but really no harm, no foul. "It was 15 seconds it was an awkward situation," the person wrote. "Your kid made an honest mistake. The other woman was surprised and uncomfortable. You thought was funny at first but when you saw their reaction you got uncomfortable you fumbled and it got awkward. It was a social whoopsie and no ones fault."

    And a third person thought the stranger needed to "calm down."  "Are people seriously so soft that a small child is threatening to them?" the person wrote. "Like if it were me, I'd have laughed it off, no apology necessary, because it's just a kid that made a mistake in trying to identify a much taller human. Have none of you been the kid in this situation before? These things happen. Calm down."

    In the end, the mom admitted that the situation was weird and that she reacted poorly. "I agree that I could have been the better person and used this as a growing tool. I don't do well in confrontation and usually fold, but this was a case that I just didn't know wtf to do honestly," she wrote.

    "I have never felt anger like that, but I guess it was just a maternal instinct. If she would have turned around and glared and eased up when she realized it was a kid who was really embarrassed, I would have dropped that "I'm so sorry" like quarters in Vegas, but that look like she wanted to do damage just really made me nervous. It wasn't a normal reaction, I swear."

    "Lessons have been learned," she added.

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