Do you remember that gag with the fake can of nuts and the cloth snake with a spring in it? "Hey, want a peanut? BOOIIINNGGG!"
That was a good one, huh?
And you know how it was really, really hard to get the stupid snake back into the container and close the lid because every time you'd have almost shoved the whole springy thing back in and maneuvered the lid into place it would shoot back out and the lid would fly off and you'd have to start over?
Because I am totally experiencing it again. Except instead of a fake can of nuts, it's a stroller, and instead of a springy snake, it's a screaming, flailing, totally freaking out two-year-old. "Hey, want a toddler? What? Why not?!"
Four times in the last week I've had to strap O into his stroller because he was having a fit. All of them have been the result of completely unreasonable reactions to mundane things like getting on a bus or dressing for school. I think it comes from his desire to control what he can (putting on pants, walking to the bus stop) and learning to be an independent being, and I understand all that. I also realize it's a phase that most kids go through, but wow, can it ever be unpleasant!
Sometimes I can head him off at the pass; when I know he's tired or if it's no big deal to let him do what he wants, then I'm happy to avoid a scene. But there are other times, like when he wants to eat lollipops at 7am or tries to throw himself into oncoming traffic, that I just can't give in. And when a little kid gets to the screaming, kicking, sobbing, shrieking stage, it's very, very difficult to do anything to stop it.
At home, you can let it pass. The kitchen floor will take a beating from stomping little feet, and I've learned to mentally block out the noise to a certain extent. But when you're out in public, things get more complicated. I've come up with a few steps to get through it:
What To Do When Your Small Child Freaks Out In Public
Step 1- Make calming noises and glance around to see who is looking (everyone.) Stroke child's hair soothingly but keep fingers away from biting mouth.
Step 2- Explain to the child why it is inappropriate to behave so badly for such a silly reason, ideally giving Back Story to all eavesdropping bystanders. "No, you can't take the 33 bus because we need the R68, and you are not allowed on your own because you are two. And it is unreasonable of you to demand that I repair your broken banana after you threw it on the floor because you didn't want it at first but now you do. Also, you are exhausted for having been up 4 times in the middle of the night, and I am trying to be patient but I too was up 4 times in the middle of night, and I still have to go home and cook dinner."
Step 3- Try to elicit sympathetic looks from those bystanders who haven't stuck their fingers in their ears from all the screaming.
Step 4- Apparently pretty much no one wants to listen to a screaming child, so you do what you can to remove yourself and the offending kid from the situation. As I've mentioned, the stroller is handy for quick getaway, but wow, do you ever look like a Terrible Parent when you are trying to strap down a screaming kid who is acting like the fabric on the seat is burning them and you are the devil who is making them sit in the evil, evil thing. Keep up the Sympathetic-Look-Eye-Contact, with an occasional So-Sorry-About-My-Crazy-Child-Smile.
Step 5- Run. (Yes, the child has to go with you.)
Step 6- Enlist significant other's help in opening bottle of wine.
OK, so it might not put me in the Parenting Hall of Fame, but it helps in a pinch. What do you do when your kid throws a tantrum?