Because I grew up in the 1980s, I was definitely subjected to many uncomfortable interactions with strangers. I'm not referring to stranger danger, although that was prevalent in that decade. I mean forced hugs and kisses. Honestly, that also sounds bad, but let me explain. When my mother or grandmother spent time with their adult friends, I would often hear this sentence: "Give so-and-so a hug goodbye." I don't recall feeling weird, but it was definitely not a choice.
I have a strong core memory of dreading going to church, for many reasons, but I always tried to avoid shaking our Reverend's hand. My grandmother always made me do it, and when I tell you this man had the grip of a professional boxer, believe it. I guess God likes a strong handshake. I'm willing to bet someone from my mother's generation made one woman's child uncomfortable in a bizarre exchange out in the world. A woman took to TikTok to share this story and boy does it sound familiar.
Please respect everyone's boundaries, even children.
Alysse Gilbert, who goes by @alysse.gilbert on TikTok, is a stay-at-home mom with two kids. One is a toddler, and the other is definitely under the age of one. I have to imagine getting them both into a car and then into a shopping cart is quite the ordeal. It can't be easy.
She also doesn't have time for any tomfoolery or hullabaloo while shopping. This includes any unwanted interactions with strangers who couldn't identify a boundary if they were standing on a football field.
In an emotionally charged TikTok, Alysse describes an incident she had at Trader Joe's. I don't want to make a broad generalization about the customers who frequent Trader Joe's, but I am going to go out on a limb and say a great deal of them are financially comfortable and might have a bit of privilege. Said privilege could explain what happened to Alysse.
After taking a beat to gather herself, Alysse told her story in an effort to get the opinions of other moms. Like many women, Alysse isn't trusting her gut in this scenario. We've all been there.
Picture this, Alysse has her baby strapped to her chest while her toddler is in the cart. Logistically, she's doing great. The toddler is almost two and according to Alysse, is a "very vocal two year-old." I love that and I hope it continues well into adulthood.
Things start off pretty fine. A woman in the store compliments Alysse's daughter by saying she's "so cute," which is always better than an adult man saying she's beautiful. Alysse politely thanks this woman, and everyone moves on. If only it ended there.
They run into the woman in the next aisle, but Alysse has her back partially turned to the cart and this woman. Suddenly out of the corner of her eye, Alysse sees movement but didn't think anything of it until she heard her daughter say, "I don't like her." This of course causes Alysse to turn fully around in order to assess the situation.
On the outside what the woman is doing seems innocuous, but that isn't the point. She was pretending to tickle Alysse's daughter and despite what one person said in the comments about not actually touching her, this wasn't OK. Alysse's child was uncomfortable and voiced this feeling pretty clearly.
Alysse didn't say anything but did move their cart away from the woman. That didn't stop her because she proceeded to pretend tickle Alysse's daughter again. "Don't touch me," said Alysse's daughter. "That's not very nice sweetie," says the woman to a child.
By this point Alysse was pretty done and I was done right along with her. "You're clearly making her uncomfortable," said Alysse to this total stranger "because she doesn't know you." The lady responded by laughing, which is wild.
Everyone in the comments section was in full agreement with Alysse. She absolutely did the right thing. My theory about this behavior is, it's all rooted in rejection.
Some folks have such a strong fear of being rejected or hurting someone else's feelings that they will either force their children to do something they don't want to do or in this case, will tell a parent her daughter is unkind. We can't bend ourselves or our children around the uncomfortable feelings of others. Those feelings are their responsibility.