Wednesday, July 15, 2009

power struggle

Hello world! I'm still here...but feeling swamped and sunk thanks to this little pair:

a certain toddler's tantrums (new Read Your Way Through post coming soon)

How can a child be so loveable and melt-your-heart-sweet one moment and then so utterly rotten the next? I mean, he can literally turn on a dime! Take today, for example. We had a nice brunch out with a friend. J climbed into the booster seat of his own accord and then proceeded to sit still while I buckled him in. He colored before his food came, he drank his milk without blowing bubbles, and ate his meal without throwing anything on the floor. Of course, he used his shirt as a napkin and interrupted us constantly, but, hey, I can deal. At one point, he even stopped my friend mid-sentence and said sweetly, "Am I being patient?"

Yes, yes he WAS.

That is, until moments later when we went into Target for 4 things. Just 4 desperately-needed things. A quick errand for Mama and then it was on to the park. But, no. The patient toddler was suddenly replaced by the angry, LOUD toddler. The toddler who hits his mama as she races down the aisle for the 4 things on her list. The toddler who, at odd random intervals, removes a shoe or a sock and hurls them out of the cart and into the aisles or on top of the shelves of diapers that his mama is scouring while trying to figure out unit price in her head amidst the screaming of said toddler. The toddler whose behavior elicits one of three reactions among the other shoppers:

The first, and any mother's favorite: sympathetic smiles. These are from parents or grandparents or just kind people who can see that I am hurrying on my way and doing my best to remain calm despite my embarrassment.

The second: glares or eye-rolling. These people would probably like to stop me and say, "Maybe you should leave and come back another time when he is either calm or you can come without him." I do not get that option. It's totally unfair. Leaving Target during a temper tantrum doesn't reprimand or correct J's behavior. It just inconveniences me. And I'm already inconvenienced by having to deal with a tantrum while buying diapers and other items to care for the child who is throwing the tantrum!

The third and worst reaction: snickering. Yes, snickering! I've not experienced that one until today. I didn't know it was possible to pause in your shopping, observe a child hitting, kicking, screaming, and then audibly snicker and giggle. Did they think J's behavior was funny? Were they laughing at me, stuck in this crappy situation? "The nerve!", as my mom would say. Well, I shot that guy a glare, but then decided not to look at any of the other shoppers on the way to the checkout in case they were smirking too.

The other thing bogging me down lately is the hectic and completely opposite work schedule that C and I have. Let me tell ya, doing the Toddler Stop Drop and Roll day after day gets old. But, I hate to complain because it is what it is and it is what we chose. We are lucky--and we tell ourselves this often--that we each get quality time with J. We made smart decisions to make this lifestyle work for us. We have very accomodating jobs. Nevertheless, I guess I'm going through a little phase where I either want what I don't have or I want what isn't possible.

And, sometimes that's enough to make me want to have a tantrum. Thanks for bearing with me.


Cheryl said...

Hey. I am right there with you on the toddler front. It's so hard! Although the shoe throwing is a new one! Did I tell you that Eleanor likes to pee on the floor when she is having a time out? Oh yeah, lots of fun there. Hopefully soon enough they'll be out of this phase, although then they won't have any more baby left :( and I like that little bit they still have. boo.

Congrats he is eating out well though. We never used to take Eleanor out (also good money saver) until recently and except for one fun incident (haha) it's went well.

We'll be back in Cbus in 3 weeks (back in the US in 2!). So excited. When we get settled, we have to get us all together :) xx

Beth said...

Wow! I take back every moment I slumped over in exasperation! Ava's meltdowns cannot compare - hopefully this isn't something to come as we get deeper into being 2.

Our last trip to Target (what is it about Target?), she did not want to ride in the cart. Fine. We had been to 3 stores already. But not being in the cart meant that thought she could crawl on the floor and bark and pant like a puppy. This earned her a trip into the cart and the screaming began. Fortunately the screaming stopped while I sang Froggy Went a Courtin' over and over.

Oh the joys of toddlers!

Stacy said...

You did the best you could... it's great that the meal out went well. We don't attempt eating out so much (my son is 2). My kid despises shopping, so it's really tough to get groceries or run errands with him.

Don't worry about the glares. Those snickering and eye-rolling people can just move on. Your kid's tantrum isn't hurting them. And what those people think of you and your kid doesn't matter.

I read this yesterday and it helps a lot to understand where my kid is at developmentally. It doesn't relate specifically to your post, but the section on self-control might be of interest:

One thing I am trying lately is to plan errands around JT's best times. Like right after a nap- go for a short errand and praise him for the good behavior. Then get out quickly before it turns ugly! Hopefully it can be a basis for understanding what's expected.

terpgirl23 said...

What...not my angel J? Oh girl, I can totally visualize this whole experience you just described. Only I would probably be home crying, instead of being smart like you and writing it all out.

I know this is not particulary helpful at the moment, but he is doing what he is supposed to do - test you. And test you again. And then test you some more. Sometimes we are up for the challenge, but often it's just exhausting. But, I have seen you in action Momma and you are amazing. Now "amazing momma" does not equal "tantrum-free child". It just means you handle them well. People are idiots. Try not to pay too much attention to them.

katie said...

Hey mamas,

Thanks for the support, suggestions and condolences (Ha!).

Wouldn't you know we've had just a wonderful day together today.

Stacy--I'll check out the link you sent. I really appreciate it!

Jenni said...

Oh, I'm with you, mama! Mine is having major screaming fits in unlikely locations and for ridiculous reasons. My "favorite" is the morning he took one look at me and said, "No blue shirt, Mama!" and proceeded to try and claw it off of me! And had a fit for 10 minutes. But in public it's definitely worse. Keep your chin up!

katie said...

Wow, Jenni, that's hilarious (sorry!). And the perfect example of how random and sometimes seemingly-unprovoked these tantrums can be. It's like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde kind of thing.

Poor kiddos. Somewhere inside they are really grappling with conflicting feelings and boundaries and limits, I guess.

Thanks again, everyone, for sharing your "horror stories" too!

Amanda said...

So sorry for your toddler tantrums! I know I have yet to experience them, but I know there is already a level of self consciousness for David and I when we take Eliza out, especially when I go out by myself. I've already had one trip where I turned around once I got to the parking lot because I couldn't get E to stop crying. I am sure I won't always have the option to give up and turn around. I think it sounds like you handled the situation great...forget the rude folks who stared!

Erin said...

I know exactly what you mean. Only mine are 2 and 4, and going to the grocery store or Wal-Mart (we don't have Target up here in Canada) is like taking a trip into HELL! I can usually laugh about it later, but when I'm in the middle of it, I want to have a tantrum myself. Of course when I do get a bit riled up, raise my voice or force wee ones to be strapped into the cart, I get a very loud, "Bad Mummy!" shouted at me repeatedly. Sigh.

Keep at it. I know our little lovelies will turn out to be wonderful, kind, patient grown-ups as a result!