A Very Public Meltdown

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tantrumSince the terrible twos have hit, I have felt pretty good about my ability in diffusing tantrums and meltdowns. While I sometimes complain or joke about how awful it is, inside I felt as if I had a good handle on it. I even kind of found a few of her fits humorous, although I would never laugh. I thought to myself the two aren’t so terrible. She was such a challenging infant that this is a breeze. As usual in life as soon as you think something like this, there will be a moment to prove you wrong. Today, was a very bad day. It started off innocently enough. In the morning, we read books in bed, we painted pictures & did a little house cleaning.


I tried putting Mai down for an early nap, but she was not sleepy. I was taking her to story time at a local museum today. A children’s author and illustrator was going to read some of his favorite stories and then show the kids how he did some of his illustrations. I thought this was right up my daughter’s alley as she loved books and has always enjoyed watching me draw, plus I try to let her interact with other children as often as possible. When we arrived at the museum, we were greeted with Hawaiin leis, sunglasses and juice boxes for the kids. There were rows of stools for all the children to sit on while they listened to an amusing tale about a jelly fish and his fish friend Peanut butter. Mai interacted with the other children and happily listened to the story and clapped at the colorful illustrations.

045 049 After the stories, the author pulled out an easel and engaged the children, asking them to give him a sea creature and an emotion to draw. The older children shouted out answers “happy trout”, hungry salmon”,”burping shark”. Mai pushed through the crowd to get closer to the action.

Inching closer to the action.

As she got to the front where all of the kids were sitting Indian style, she kept going. “Mai Mai wants to draw”. Uh Oh! Mommy jumped up and ran to get her. “No honey, he is drawing. You can sit with the other kids and watch.” “Mai Mai wants to draw too.”. “Mai, come on and sit down with mommy.” But, she kept pushing forward. I scooped her up and brought her to the front of the pack, where we sat down. She fought to get up and go to the easel. “Mai we will have to go home if you don’t sit down.” I whispered. She arched her back & wriggled out my arms, screaming. It was definitely time to go. As I gathered up her backpack and our spring jackets, she continued her frustrated display. We walked out of the room leaving a trail of yells and cries echoing over the voice of the author. Stares & glares were directed our way as I struggled to hold my frantic daughter in my arms as she yelled the words “Don’t take me”. I quickly left the building before the desk attendant had the opportunity to dial 911 and report a child abduction.

The scene in the parking lot was not much better. She continued to scream “don’t take me “while kicking her feet & trying to thrust herself out of my arms. It is amazing how freakishly strong your child is when they want to get away. While trying to load her in the car, her tiny little hands grabbed the edge of the door and she spread her body out wide to make it nearly impossible for me to get her into the car. I tried to calm her down with some toys that were in the backseat. I tried to calm her with soft words and then a few loud ones. The screaming and resistance would not end. I could not get her in the car seat. I sat in the backseat with my daughter writhing on my lap and closed the door. I let the tantrum run it’s course as I took long deep breaths in order to keep my composure. After a short while that felt rather long, she flipped the switch. She picked up the toy I presented her earlier and said “Mama look.” It was finally over.

When something like this happens, it makes you question your parenting. What am I doing wrong? Why did this happen? How should I have handled this? When all eyes are on you, you can’t help but feel judged. You are even judging yourself.

We both went down for a nap when we got home. When she woke up both our batteries were recharged and my lovely girl was back again. The rest of the evening was filled with living room picnics, more books and sheet forts. The horrors of the afternoon almost seemed a distant memory. Besides, how can I stay mad at this face?


Related topics:

http://mommytrainingwheels.com/2014/04/25/holy-tantrum-batman/ http://thirtydaysofhealing.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/im-a-child-and-you-cant-make-me/



  1. I would love to see the pictures! Haha, no seriously, that must have been a long, painful hours for you while waiting for the tantrum to decrease. I’m facing such a tantrum almost every week too, one day will be better (or worse) than the other. And yea, the bad news is, there’s likely nothing we can do in such situations. In case of your daughter, I think it’s even quite understandable that she thought, just like at home, that she’s allowed to take part in drawing. She just didn’t understand why she suddenly not allowed to draw (my humble opinion, don’t mean to sound like an expert). Och well, we shall miss these moments when they no longer share their tantrums with us, I guess… 😉

    1. Oh god, it was not hours. I would have been tantruming too if it was hours. Lol! From start to end, it was probably about a half hour. I know she did not understand. She has an easel at home. We draw all the time. It is not easy trying to rationalize this to a two year old. This was a rare breakdown for her. She has never done anything like this before. It scared me to tell you the truth. Ahhh! She is a happy girl today though.

  2. Do you want the good news or the bad news? Bad first? The two year tantrums don’t stop,they just evolve. The ten year old door slam, the fifteen year old eye roll, etc. The good news? Shortly after they are all grown up and on their own, precious little grandchildren come along and turn two. These tantrums are much more fun though – you can sit back and smile while you watch your grown son or daughter deal with it.

    On a serious note, the time does pass much too quickly and there will be a time you will miss even these expressions of independence.

    1. I know each new stage has it’s challenges, but yesterday’s breakdown truly shocked me. I had never seen my daughter behave quite in this manner before. I guess I will just have to brace myself for future episodes and I remember my relationship with my mother as a tween and teen. My payback is coming for sure. Nothing makes your appreciate your mama more than becoming one yourself

  3. I’ve definitely learned that what works best for my kids is to intervene quickly, doing what you did. Remove them from the situation calmly but firmly, go somewhere private and let the storm blow over. Some big public meltdowns yes, but if I do this consistently, he moves through the tantrums more quickly. Once he’s calmed down, then we can talk about how he felt… “You really wanted to draw. It made you sad that you couldn’t. Shall we draw now?

    1. Thanks, this was my first of this kind of scene. I will be better equipped to handle it the next time. The funny thing is that evening after she napped, she didn’t want anything to do with drawing. Oh Mai! How I love her, though.

  4. First off, I can so relate with having had two go through the terrible twos only a year apart and trust me I really felt your pain reading this. I promise it does get better as they get a bit older being able to communicate better their frustrations, but we still have our moments with each of my girls from time to time. Hugs and just know you aren’t alone in the leafs on this and like you I can never stay annoyed for long looking at my girls adorable little faces 🙂

    1. Thank you, Janine. I can imagine having to do this with two that close together must have been tough. I look at my friends with more than one child and remind myself of that. Suck it up Kim, you only have one. Lol

  5. Oh man, you’re bringing back the memories for me. I found it so hard when they were at the age when they are to young to sit and pay attention for more then 5 minutes then act up…have to tend to the behavior whether it’s screaming, touching things they shouldn’t be or running away (while leaving your other child unattended in the stroller) It was never “fun” to leave the house especially when you only have 2 hands. I remember looking at the other kids and thinking “when will they actually sit and listen and BEHAVE!!! ” Lol. I thought the day would never come. But, it does come and will be here (for you) before you know it…then when you hear another child having a meltdown, you’ll feel sorry for the parent and know exactly what they’re going thru 🙂

  6. Oh how I wish I could say at 3 this is better. I took Dawson screaming (high pitched of course) out of a very crowded restaurant this morning. Luckily, this time, he walked instead of being a dead weight I have to drag.. That sounds horrible, but at 23 weeks pregnant with him being 42 lbs, there’s no other option! You are not alone. I tend to feel like I look like a fool if I try to reason with him or calm him down, so I just try to remove him from the situation quickly. This stage is tough but it too shall pass!

    Katie @ Being Dawson’s Mom

  7. Oh boy, these are so hard! You did the best thing possible. We had one with the 3 year old at a restaurant and I took him to the foyer where they had some chairs and closed doors, and we just sat there for 3 minutes until it ended, and went back to our lunch haha! I think the challenging child will always be so in varying ways.. I also think they’ll be such leaders when they’re grown 🙂

    1. She has been strong willed from day one. My husband and I always joke because so many of our friends have such quiet well behaved children, but we both agree that we like her spunk. She is quite the personality. I hope that does amount to a strong adult.

  8. I left that same building in the very same way about 3 weeks ago. Also spent time in the parking lot in much the same way. My daughter wanted to leave with the crayons from the craft room. Sigh! We haven’t been back. Giving the ladies at reception some time to forget us. 😉 I doubt anyone was judging you. We’ve all been there!

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