Taming of the Tantrums

Strolling through the aisles of a store recently, I heard the start of a giant fit coming on. A toddler wanted out of her cart. Those pesky toddlers can be persistent. Boy, the memories flooded back. My quiet shopping experience had become stained by the piercing shrieks and then constant screams of this little girl who wanted nothing more than to be out of her cart. I snuck a few glances to see if her mom was “stuck,” meaning could she even get out of the store. She quieted when her mother held her. Then she started up again–she wanted down, and she repeated that for a very long time. This fit went on for a good ten minutes. It was loud. The mother made no effort to make a beeline for the door.

All I could think was two things: 1) Why doesn’t she run out of the store and save herself? I would have had it by now. When you run out of cookies, get thee to a door. 2) I have been there and I am so glad I am done with that!

Six years ago…

One morning I took my kids, two and a half years and six weeks old, to a craft store to buy some Halloween stuff to make with my son. I knew what I wanted. It would be a quick trip. This was one of the first outings alone with my kids, and it was a doozy.

I picked up the things I wanted and my son pointed out what he wanted. I told him no. That’s where I lost all control. He went into full fit mode: volume turned up, body convulsing out of control. I was in a bit of a pickle. This craft store had tiny carts and the carrier my daughter was in did not fit in a cart. I had carried her in and walked my son in. I was stuck in the store with a toddler in a full-blown tantrum. All I could do was gently hold him down in the aisle and wait it out.

At first I laughed. I’d wait this beast out. Well, I waited. And waited. People stared. My daughter slept. I still couldn’t pick up my son at all. Two older ladies came by. “I’ll bet you’re two and a half,” one said to my son. I laughed. She nailed it. God bless her. She understood. She offered to take my son out in a cart. That made him scream more because he thought I was giving him to this stranger, which at that point I felt like doing.

I thanked them but waited another minute and my son calmed down long enough for me to grab him in a football hold and loop my other arm through my daughter’s carrier. I ran for the door and through the parking lot, my son kicking me and biting me the whole way. While I tried to strap him in his car seat, he kicked me in the face, pulled my hair, and grabbed at my face with what felt like sharp claws. I can’t even mention the words that were going through my head and I’m pretty sure I cried the whole way home. I didn’t go back to that store for months.

I have been fortunate these past six years. That was the worst public display and nothing else has compared, but it scarred me for life.

Looking back to that day, when I realized I couldn’t escape my stupidity, I should have bought the silly wooden pumpkin that he wanted. I saw that fit coming and I could have said, “Sure, you can pay me back.” It wouldn’t have spoiled him. But it would have saved my sanity and helped me avoid a few battle scars. Had it not been there, that fit would have played out somewhere else, but maybe I would have been able to make a run for it. Regardless, I learned early on, it’s always better to shop without kids.

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