Madalyn never, ever threw temper tantrums. When JZ was born and he was so completely opposite of her I figured I would have to pay it back in spades and it appears I am going to be correct. Today we were witness to what I would call an F4 tantrum. Gary England actually broke in on a nearby radio broadcast and advised us to take cover in a closet. There was flailing; there was screaming. And JZ didn’t behave so well, either.
It all started when we attempted to take the kids to the Medieval Faire today. When I say “attempted” what I mean is “entered the park, stood around while Robert ate fair(e) food, dropped 20 bucks on pony & camel rides and then beat a hasty retreat before someone called CPS on us.” The temperature was nice and cool but it’s springtime in Oklahoma, which means one thing — unholy and unrelenting wind. Since the greenery covering most of the park area has not yet sprouted the ground is covered with dried grass — which was constantly being blown into one’s eyes, hair, food, etc. There was also lots of dirt blowing around, which adhered nicely to our posessions, clothes and everything else. We parental units were not having the best time to begin with and then…..it happened.
On our way from the pony/camel area to the playground I bought a bottle of Coke. John-Zachary wanted a drink. I first tried to redirect his attention to Robert’s Sprite but he (JZ) wasn’t having it. He was starting to wind up and looked like he was getting ready to blow so I made the quick decision to allow him a drink of Coke. However, the mode of transportation from bottle to mouth that I attempted to initiate was not to his exacting standards. I wanted to hold the bottle for him; he wanted to hold it himself. When he realized that I wasn’t going to just whip the cap off an entire 20-oz. bottle of artificially colored, processed- and refined-sugar-based liquid and let him have at it, the full meltdown was in effect.
JZ elected to use the standard temper tantrum form (always a good idea to stick to the basics when unsure). He flung himself on the ground, screaming his tiny lungs out to let the world know what an unacceptable mother he’d had the misfortune to be saddled with. He even threw in a few reps of violent kicking to emphasize his point. Oh yes, it was the complete package. I tried picking him up a couple times, upon which he employed the patented back-arching-and-screaming-louder technique that has been a favorite of toddlers for millenia. I also offered him a drink (bribery? distraction? whatever!) two or three times, which only served to remind him how TOTALLY UNFAIR I was being about the whole bottle-holding thing and made him scream even louder.
Being….well, me, I decided the best recourse was to grab my camera and snap a few pictures — a memento, if you will, of this hallmark time in all of our lives. To wit:
I’m thinking of having these blown up and made into Christmas cards this year. Or possibly a nice, big banner to hang at his 18th birthday party.
So here is this boy (of COURSE it’s a boy…do girls ever do stuff like this?) lying, prostrate, in the dirt and dried grass, wailing like a fire engine, and, all the while passersby are gawking, or making comments, or sometimes looking sympathetic. And there we stand, trying to ignore him, and snickering. Yes, I admit it; we were snickering. But looking the other direction while we were doing it, I want to point out. Because, heaven forbid, we wouldn’t want to Hurt His Self Esteem by laughing at him — even when he is being completely ridiculous rolling around in the muck in the middle of a Renaissance festival.
Soon after the pictures were snapped we decided to change our tack. Us standing there smacked a little too much of allowing him to hold us hostage, so I picked him up bodily and strapped him in the stroller and then we headed toward the playground. On the way, a passing faire worker commented, “Naptime!” as we went screaming by. Why, THANK YOU, helpful medieval faire worker! You maketh leather mugs AND dispenseth child-rearing advice. Prithee comest over here and biteth me, thou big dink.
Anyway, by the time we’d gotten into the play area, JZ had wound down a bit. In a move that is guaranteed to earn me a place in the annals of wimpy parenting, I got out a screw-on sucky cap, put it on the bottle, and gave it to him. Because the BEST way to handle a child who is over-tired and on the verge of meltdown is to add sugar and caffeine. I’m pretty sure that’s what they said in that parenting class, anyway. I’m not totally sure because I was busy making up a crack pipe for him.
So it’s all over now and I’d score it this way: John-Zachary — 2, Parents — 1. One point for him because he got to hold the soda himself, in the end, and another because he did manage to flummox us for the first few minutes until we decided we weren’t going to stand there any longer. Then one point to us because, after all, we didn’t give in and hand him the bottle WHILE he was throwing the fit, so we kind of did get our point across. What the little sucker doesn’t know is he’s had his soda allotment for, oh, the next year or so. Mama was a little weak today but, back on our home turf, away from the disorienting scent of incense and dromedaries, I run the show. We just won’t leave the house for the next two years or so. That’ll show him.