Friday, 27 Feb 2009

The Day All Parents Dread

It finally happened. I’ve been sort of dreading it, and it might actually have been worse than I imagined.

That’s right, the dreaded TEMPER TANTRUM. Here’s the thing – I am generally pretty careful about maintaining a schedule for my kids. We’re home for nap pretty much every day (unless they’re at school), they go to bed at the same time, and so on. I always carry snacks and I don’t tackle known tantrum spots when I have both kids in tow. The one massive tantrum Bug had in the past (yes, just one) was pretty traumatic (for me), but it was just the two of us. I dragged, threatened and wheeled (in a shopping cart) my flailing, screeching 3 year old through a parking lot and wrestled him into his car seat. It was ugly, but I handled it.

This time, I wasn’t quite so lucky. When I went to pick up Bug from from his preschool class, I already had LadyBug in tow. I took one look at my little guy and knew something was off. It was confirmed when his teacher told me that Bug had skipped his nap that day. *Queue foreshadowing horror music here*

Every time I pick up the kids, I brace myself for the, “I don’t want to go home” argument. So far, I have always managed to head it off with promises of snacks in the car, special games at home, and hours of Wonderpets. Today my bribes were met with Bug’s casual, “Uhm.. no, thank you. I’m going to stay here and play.” The calm, polite demeanor didn’t fool me. I knew a storm was brewing. I have him a time warning and heard again, “No, thank you.”

The negotiating went on for 5 or so minutes, while LadyBug roamed around the room making herself at home with the older kids. I finally scooped him up and carried him over to the cubbies. And that’s when the dam broke. First he hit me and then he started screaming at the top of his lungs. I literally had to restrain him while putting on his jacket, convincing LadyBug to come over, putting on her jacket and gathering all of their gear.

A number of parents walked in and tried to ignore the scene in the hall. Of course, they had to step over my lunatic child to get into the classroom. I smiled apologetically and said, “We haven’t had a tantrum like this in awhile.”

Now here’s something I probably haven’t had a reason to mention on here. Bug weighs over 40 lbs. Although he’s only 3, he’s wearing 5T clothes and is very tall for his age. I honestly try to avoid carrying him as much as possible because he’s so ridiculously heavy. But he was screaming and causing a scene in his classroom and I was feeling like I was about to be referred for a SuperNanny episode. So I picked up my screaming, struggling son, two lunch bags and the kids snow gear and I was left without a hand for little LadyBug. This caused her to descend into tears, and rightly so. I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to manage getting a 20-month old across the street without holding her hand.

I managed to get both kids out of the building and into the fenced-in playground and then I was stuck. I put Bug down, where he sat on the cold, sandy ground. LadyBug and I pretended we were going to leave him. I threatened, I begged, I considered calling my husband to come home early. A number of smirking parents walked by with their happy, smiling kids. I’m sure they were counting their blessings that it wasn’t their child acting out. I just couldn’t figure out how to get my kids to the car without leaving one behind.

Finally, when I was about ready to start crying myself, one of Bug’s teachers came out and took his hand. He still refused to walk and I finally picked him back up, but he had, at least temporarily, stopped yelling. She walked over to LadyBug, picked up our bags and grabbed Lady by the hand. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but this woman saved me today. She walked us to the car, made sure I was ok and headed home. Were I not still wrestling Bug, I would have given her a hug.

Anyway, I forced Bug into his carseat and closed the door to his screams. LadyBug was strapped in and given the customary snack (Bug later accused me of “forgetting” to give him a snack). We drove home to Bugs’ sobbing and wailing. Now that I was no longer worried about crossing the street, I just ignored him. When he shouts in the car, I generally turn up the radio and start singing. It makes me feel better and it drives him crazy.

When I got home and saw my husband standing in the doorway, I parked the car and burst into tears. Hours later, I’m still upset by the whole thing. So, other parents… what would you have done to avoid the tantrum, get the kids to the car and get safely home?


One Response to “The Day All Parents Dread”

  1. YogaMom Says:

    I’ve been enjoying your blog, but never comment. My rule of thumb for times like this is take the immediate, pressing issue first. Always the kids. First I would have asked what was going on. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. If I can uncover the deeper issue I also get my three year old to talk about his feelings. I distract him right off, maybe by asking to see something in the room that he enjoyed doing that day. I try to save something that he really enjoys for times that these or I say something like since you’re having a tough day why don’t you pick something for a special snack. Or something along those lines. I try to help him acknowledge that he’s having a tough time and figure out things that might make him feel better. And I don’t worry about what other parents might be thinking. It just makes me stressed and I know that every single parent has been there before.

    In the parking lot I would have left all the stuff on the sidewalk, put the kids in the car, driven back to all the stuff and picked it up.