Since 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.
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.
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?