There’s No Crying at Old Navy!

posted by Momo Fali on June 30, 2014

If I hadn’t been there myself I wouldn’t have believed it. My son made a stranger cry today.

My 12 year old with special needs, who struggles desperately with decision making, had a melt-down in the patriotic shirt section of Old Navy today. We spent 15 minutes going back and forth between the shirts and the register because he couldn’t pick the one he liked. Because we’re trying to get him to focus on this much-needed skill I told him that he had to make a final decision and couldn’t change his mind again – it was that shirt or NO shirt.

Of course, by the time we got to the front of the store he had decided he wanted a different one. Again.

So I took the shirt back and told him he wasn’t getting anything and that’s when the melt-down began. He doesn’t throw traditional tantrums with kicking and screaming, but with tears and thoughtful manipulation. He stood in front of the check out line with sweet, silent tears then said, “Please, mom! I will sacrifice myself for that shirt!”


imagine those eyes, filled with tears

By the time we got in line, his face was red and splotchy and his shirt was dotted with tears. Did I mention the line was LONG. It looked like Black Friday and we were sandwiched between people in the front and back and the racks of impulse purchases on the sides. Well played, Old Navy. Well played.

My son continued his pleas and I continued to say that he was not getting a shirt, that he has to work on decision making because if he can’t make a choice about a t-shirt, how can I trust him to make big decisions later in life, to which he replied, “I WILL make big decisions! I will be a good driver and I won’t do drugs!”

Then I got tapped on my shoulder. I turned around to see the woman behind us crying. With heartfelt sympathy for the 12 year old she probably thought was 6, she said, “He’s making me so upset.”

I nodded and said, “I know. This is hard, but I’m trying to set a precedent here.”

Then my son looked at her with his sad, tear-filled eyes and said, “Sometimes kids have a hard life.”

As we neared the register we stood next to a bin full of miscellaneous things like dog antlers, plastic Slinkies, and Beanie Babies; to one of which my son became quite attached. Since he couldn’t get the shirt he asked if he could get the Beanie Baby instead. Because I’m the meanest mom ever, I said no. The woman behind us continued to cry.

And, wouldn’t you know, that lady who was moved to tears by my kids dramatic display ended up buying him the Beanie Baby? As she handed it to him she said, “Here you go. Now maybe your life won’t be so hard.”

Though in the end he got his way and that was not what I wanted, part of me was moved by her gesture and how she was touched by this little boy and his sadness.

But, really? Couldn’t she have bought him one of those shirts?


  • Arnebya

    Dammit! I’m crying just reading this, so I can only imagine how that woman felt. You little people getter, Adam! Ugh. I’m torn too between being thankful for her sweetness and the whole come on lady you’re undoing mah work.

    • Momo


  • Melisa

    OMG THANK YOU. I am so happy you wrote this up so I can bookmark it. Still laughing!!

  • Liz

    Well played Old Navy, well played indeed.

  • Piper

    Evidently it’s been a really long time since I’ve been in an Old Navy, because Beanie Babies? *mindblown*

    You’re the best mom ever. xo

  • tara

    Oh man, I would totally be upset that he got his way but also torn because how sweet.

    Decisions are so hard, though! Thank goodness for receipts.

  • Leigh Ann

    Dude, it’s a fine line to walk, interfering with someone else’s parenting. But sweet old lady! In Old Navy! Gah.

  • Kari

    Hack the next time I am at Old Navy, I am gonna start crying in line.
    Maybe someone will buy me my flip flops.
    They are expensive when you buy, like, 10.

    I wouldn’t have bought him the toy if I were behind him.
    I would have tried to hug him.
    Then I would be ” the creeper lady at the Old Navy”.
    Not that I have ever done that before.

  • Marlene Lakey

    I agree with Piper – you’re the best mom EVER !! What a great story – your son sounds adorable, altho you probably weren’t thinking that at the time.

  • Ann Loftus

    You’re a good mom. You were also kind to let that lady get your son the beany baby. Who knows what else was going on in her life to make her cry so much. Your story ending was very funny.

  • Shannon

    I love this story. So much.
    Maybe that lady needed to buy him that beanie baby. I’m glad you let her do it.

  • Tracey

    It must have been an awesome shirt. And now he won’t be patriotic on the 4th. WTG Momo. I mean, he SAID he wouldn’t do drugs; what more do you want?

  • Monica

    I bow down to you Momo: you are the mean mom I want to be!

    That lady behind you was suckered but GOOD.

    This post made me laugh and laugh and laugh and also think about how awesome the whole internet is that makes it possible for you to post and me to read.

  • Mona Darling

    I think interfering with someone else’s parenting is akin to interfering with their sex life. It’s all very personal and bystanders don’t know the backstory.

  • Bean

    I love that you let her buy it for him! He’ll remember that act of kindness (aside from her falling for manipulation)when he is older.

  • AlisonH

    Laughed and oh no lady don’t do that and loved Shannon’s comment and too funny. Sweet memories for the future.

  • TC

    These kids. They get to people, don’t they? Especially the ones who look younger than they are. Mine (PDD-NOS, too) is 13, too, and looks around 9, maybe. I get a lot of the “Oh, don’t make him say ‘thank you’ to me. He’s shy!” Grrrr. And yet, awwww.

    Love this story; love that soft-hearted interfering lady.

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